Beer­ca­tion: Man­hat­tan, New York

A des­ti­na­tion on ev­ery trav­eler’s bucket list, Man­hat­tan is of­ten over­looked as a top des­ti­na­tion for beer. But ask Man­hat­tan bar own­ers, and they’ll tell a dif­fer­ent story. “The beer scene in New York is huge. It’s mas­sive now,” says Pa­trick Don­agher, ba

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Contents - By Cat Wolin­ski

IN THE EARLY 2000S of Man­hat­tan’s post-mil­len­nium beer move­ment, “there weren’t many beer bars,” says Don­agher, a fourth-gen­er­a­tion bar owner who im­mi­grated from Ire­land in 2002 and has opened four beer bars since 2012. “I re­mem­ber one time we had six Can­til­lons on tap for two weeks. Now, I can’t even have it on for two hours. No­body knew about sour beer back then. I couldn’t sell it. I ended up sell­ing growlers of Can­til­lon. We [had] a lam­bic fes­ti­val, and no­body came.”

Beer in the Big Ap­ple to­day looks a bit dif­fer­ent. “The sheer num­ber of bars that fo­cus just on craft and take care of their draft lines has ex­po­nen­tially in­creased,” says Mary Izett, au­thor of Speed Brewing: Tech­niques and Recipes for Fast-fer­ment­ing Beers, Ciders, Meads, and More, who is also sec­re­tary of the New York City Brew­ers Guild, past pres­i­dent of both the New York City Home­brew­ers Guild and Malted Bar­ley Ap­pre­ci­a­tion So­ci­ety, and cur­rent co-host of the Her­itage Ra­dio Net­work’s Fuh­mentabou­dit! pod­cast. “We used to do pub crawls and have places on the list that had only a few bot­tles of craft. To­day, those op­tions have ex­ploded. A pub crawl would take you five days or mul­ti­ple weeks at this point!”

This ex­plo­sion hasn’t ex­actly sup­ported brew­ery open­ings. Though Man­hat­tan had mul­ti­ple hey­days of brew­eries, first in the mid-to-late 1800s and then again in the 1980s and 1990s, to­day, is­sues such as zon­ing laws, real es­tate costs, and avail­abil­ity of space make open­ing a brew­ery pro­hib­i­tive at best. How­ever, where brew­eries on the is­land it­self may be lack­ing, ac­cess to amaz­ing beer—both lo­cally pro­duced in the outer bor­oughs and around the coun­try and the world— has sky­rock­eted in re­cent years.

“Man­hat­tan is a true tes­ta­ment to the health of the beer in­dus­try in New York City,” says Zach Mack, Man­hat­tan bar owner and beer writer. “We may not be pro­duc­ing our own [beer], but the fact that we’re will­ing to throw beer lines up in sup­port of lo­cally made stuff—and that beer ac­tu­ally flows and keeps peo­ple com­ing back— shows that we’re as cu­ri­ous a beer cul­ture as you can find in any of the five bor­oughs and any other part of the state.”

Mack, who owns the five-year-old Al­pha­bet City Beer Co. and a brand new sea­sonal bar, Gov­er­nors Is­land Beer Co., sees Man­hat­tan’s po­si­tion as a strength.

“The idea that [beer] has to be brewed on this is­land is novel more than it is prac­ti­cal,” says Mack. “What you get in Man­hat­tan is a much broader pic­ture of the five-bor­ough beer scene in gen­eral. That adds ben­e­fit in that we get to pick and choose our fa­vorites and of­fer that for peo­ple who may be from out of town or [are] ca­sual beer fans who want to drink lo­cally.”

When push comes to shove, he says, “We’re New York­ers. Ex­pec­ta­tions are the high­est, and the mar­gin for er­ror is the low­est. You have to know what you’re do­ing.”

Lower Man­hat­tan: Fi­nan­cial Dis­trict

If you’re spend­ing the day vis­it­ing the Statue of Lib­erty and El­lis Is­land or per­haps the World Trade Cen­ter, you’ll doubt­less be thirsty for a few brews af­ter the climb. Tread­well Park re­cently opened a new lo­ca­tion down­town (see Up­per East Side for its orig­i­nal digs).

Nearby, less than a five-minute stroll from Trin­ity Church, Clin­ton Hall of­fers a spa­cious, lively at­mos­phere with reg­u­larly ro­tat­ing taps paired with burg­ers, brats, and other beer-pair­ing fare in ei­ther in­door or out­door com­mu­nal seat­ing, the lat­ter equipped with games such as Man­hat­tan-sized mini golf as well as heat­ing lamps in win­ter.

Or, head to Stone Street to see where the lo­cal fi­nance crowd lets off steam af­ter work on Wall Street. Ulysses’ Folk House has a de­pend­able lineup of de­cent brews, and pub grub spans both the Ir­ish and Greek her­itages of its im­mi­grant own­ers.

Lower Man­hat­tan: East Vil­lage, The Bow­ery, Lower East Side

You could eas­ily spend your day and evening in the East Vil­lage and still have more to see (and drink). Pro­le­tariat is the star here, shin­ing in its dimly lit en­vi­rons with a space and menu that are equally nar­row, ob­scu­rity be­ing the key to its ap­peal. For happy hour, head to Up­state for beer and oys­ters or belly up to d.b.a. for beer and bour­bon at one of NYC’S orig­i­nal beer bars—it cel­e­brated its twen­ti­eth an­niver­sary in Oc­to­ber 2017. Good Beer is a good pit stop for beer, cider, and growlers to go. Fools Gold makes for a great meet­ing place, thanks to its lo­ca­tion on Hous­ton Street and a lengthy draft menu.

On the east side of Tomp­kins Square Park, bea­con to a for­merly beer-bar­ren Al­pha­bet City is the epony­mous Al­pha­bet City Beer Co. (also known as ABC Beer Co.), a laid-back bar and shop hy­brid that leans more to­ward the for­mer. Where other bars fo­cus solely on the es­o­teric, Owner Zach Mack de­scribes his as a “con­verter bar,” of­fer­ing care­fully se­lected beer and cheese pair­ings in a ca­sual at­mos­phere.

Barely a block away, Zum Sch­nei­der is a lively, tra­di­tion­ally Ger­man-run joint cel­e­brat­ing life with good food, good beer, and a good crowd—plus, “their par­ties are epic,” says Mack.

On the Bow­ery is one of Man­hat­tan’s few op­er­at­ing brew­eries, the Mu­nich-based Paulaner. Past the fa­mous Lom­bardi’s, serv­ing pizza since 1905, as well as the New Mu­seum, is the speakeasy-es­que One Mile House, fea­tur­ing Pro­hi­bi­tion-era styling and thirty drafts. Randolph Beer NOLITA, a gas­tropub with a friendly menu, sec­tions beers by Light, Hop, Malt, Rich, and Funk.

The Lower East Side is ma­jorly packed with col­lege drink­ing dives, but it’s worth a walk through to soak in the cul­ture. Af­ter stop­ping for falafel, dumplings, or dol­lar pizza, make a stop at Top Hops Beer Shop for an ed­u­ca­tional beer ex­pe­ri­ence or bot­tles to go, sourced from around the world.

Hope­fully com­ing soon to a space near As­tor Place is Torch & Crown, a brew­ery-in-plan­ning that sets its sights on craft­ing hops-for­ward ales in the heart of Man­hat­tan.

Lower Man­hat­tan: West Vil­lage, Green­wich Vil­lage

Blind Tiger is an oft-men­tioned must, and for very good rea­son. Beer events of the best cal­iber hap­pen fre­quently here (and have been since the dawn of Man­hat­tan craft beer). But don’t just go for the street cred—it can get un­com­fort­ably packed on week­nights. For a tamer taste of one of New York’s most im­por­tant beer bars, go

for lunch when you can grab a seat by the win­dow or stone fire­place.

Rel­a­tive new­comer Up­right Brew House is mak­ing a name for it­self with a fo­cus on lo­cal brews cu­rated by owner and Up­right Cof­fee owner turned craft-beer geek, Daniel Neu­mann.

No­mad and Mid­town East

Times Square is a sight­see­ing must, but that doesn’t mean you have to drink like a tourist. In­stead, head to The Gin­ger Man, a Man­hat­tan in­sti­tu­tion that’s man­aged to pre­serve its Old School vibe while adding in New School brews. Head here be­fore happy hour to avoid the onslaught of nine-to-fivers and to take full ad­van­tage of the spa­cious in­te­rior arm­chair-clad back room with ex­pe­ri­enced servers pulling their weight in liq­uid at the gleam­ing cop­per wall of sixty taps.

An­other long-stand­ing craft-beer bar with two Mid­town lo­ca­tions is Rat­tle N’ Hum, known for its wide se­lec­tion and cask ales. If a nineties brew­pub vibe is what you’re af­ter, Heart­land Brew­ery has sev­eral lo­ca­tions here as well.

In the small neigh­bor­hood “north of Madi­son,” beer-minded folk will want to turn their at­ten­tion to The Can­ni­bal Beer & Butcher, where meat, sea­sonal veg­gies, and beers—300 of them—pack the wooden shelves and re­frig­er­a­tors to the brim. The neigh­bor­ing Can­ni­bal Liquor House nar­rows the fo­cus to burg­ers, cock­tails, and bar food. Ei­ther will please the car­niv­o­rous. A word to the wise: be sure to check the price list should you de­cide to pair your meats and cheeses with a nice bomber of sour ale.

Mid­town East is also packed with bars, but many skew young and rowdy; for a nice meal in a warm en­vi­ron­ment with plenty of beers, try Draught 55, where se­lec­tions sur­pass thirty on draft and cask, and forty in bot­tles.

Mid­town West, Chelsea, Flat­iron

Highly rec­om­mended, lean­ing slightly to­ward up­scale but a fa­vorite among ca­sual craft seek­ers, is Hay­maker Bar and Kitchen, where the ex­cep­tional se­lec­tion is known to draw crowds, be they bor­ough-hop­pers or groups await­ing (or avoid­ing) a trip to Penn Sta­tion or Madi­son Square Gar­den.

In Hell’s Kitchen, As Is is an­other el­e­vated pub adored among in­dus­try mem­bers as much for its bar de­sign and en­vi­ron­ment as its beer list.

Near the Flat­iron Build­ing, Eataly’s Bir­re­ria is a lovely rooftop beer gar­den open to the el­e­ments in sum­mer and com­fort­ably cov­ered (and heated) in cooler months. Af­ter a stroll through the im­pres­sive and hec­tic food mar­ket down­stairs,

take the el­e­va­tor up for sa­vory Ital­ian snacks (fried mush­rooms, beer-bat­tered fried cheese) or en­trees, and en­joy a beer made on site or one from the eclec­tic beer list (in­clud­ing Eataly’s brewer part­ners, Dog­fish and Bal­adin).

Should your drink­ing in­ter­ests over­lap with vin­tage video games, Chelsea is your best bet for a Bar­cade visit.

New to the beer scene, in Hud­son Yards, Death Ave re­cently opened a brew­ery in its Greek-in­spired restau­rant; tours are avail­able upon re­quest.

Up­per West Side

The best place for beer hunt­ing in the Up­per West Side is Am­s­ter­dam Av­enue, run­ning south-north along the length of Cen­tral Park and be­yond through Up­per Man­hat­tan. If Lin­coln Cen­ter or the Amer­i­can Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory is on your agenda, walk a few short blocks to Ge­orge Kee­ley, a craft-fo­cused pub that re­cently cel­e­brated its fif­teenth an­niver­sary. For a worth­while lowbrow break, Dive Bar is pop­u­lar among lo­cals, whether they’re there for the craft or not. The liq­uid fo­cuses on first-wave brews (An­chor, Al­la­gash, Left Hand), along with Mil­len­nial fa­vorites such as Brook­lyn’s Grimm Ar­ti­sanal Ales and Threes Brewing.

Up­per East Side

The Up­per East Side has brag­ging rights for the bulk of Man­hat­tan’s brewing his­tory. Ge­orge Ehret’s Hell Gate Brew­ery oc­cu­pied a mas­sive space here in the late 1800s, with Rup­pert open­ing right around the cor­ner. To­day, the af­flu­ent neigh­bor­hood is home to a grow­ing num­ber of beer bars.

At the very top is the re­cently opened The Rochard, which had its soft open­ing in the fall of 2017. Earl’s Beer and Cheese, a quirky joint serv­ing good ‘n’ greasy cheese- and pork-themed dishes, also of­fers mostly lo­cal craft brews. The bar it­self is ab­surdly tiny, but the space in back begs for a re­laxed af­ter­noon munch­ing on grilled cheese, sip­ping pints, and per­haps dab­bling in a game of Jenga.

Bon­durants is ideal for bar-style brunch or for watch­ing a game on flat screens TVS clev­erly hid­den be­hind the chalk­board beer menus; beers will im­press, be they lo­cal or the lat­est from Hill Farm­stead.

The Pony Bar is one of the early craft-beer bars in Man­hat­tan, hav­ing sur­vived through sev­eral lo­ca­tions. Along with your pint, try one of their fa­mously spicy pick­le­back shots. Nearby, Tread­well Park Up­per East Side prom­ises pub fare and a solid list of twenty craft drafts, cask beer, and cock­tails, along with ar­cade games, pop­corn, and cot­ton candy for dessert. Ask for Anne Be­cerra, cer­ti­fied cicerone and craft-beer writer and ed­u­ca­tor, who runs the beer pro­gram there. Bot­tom­ing out the Up­per East Side crawl is The Jef­frey Craft Beer & Bites, where “bites” refers to a va­ri­ety of bar snacks, sand­wiches, and North Fork oys­ters.

Up­per Man­hat­tan and Har­lem

Home to a rich culi­nary cul­ture, Har­lem and Up­per Man­hat­tan of­fer a day’s worth of eat­ing and drink­ing ex­plo­ration on their own. Beer has cer­tainly be­come a part of this, with three brew­ers call­ing the area home: Har­lem Brewing Com­pany, helmed by owner/brewer of nearly two decades, Ce­leste Beatty; Dy­ck­man Beer Co., started by Juan J. Camilo in 2012; and Ju­lian’s Har­lem Blue, es­tab­lished in 2014 by CEO, Ju­lian Ri­ley. While none have brick-and­mor­tar lo­ca­tions yet, their beers can be found at lo­cal bars and su­per­mar­kets.

On Fred­er­ick Dou­glass Boule­vard are a few beer-drink­ing des­ti­na­tions: Bier In­ter­na­tional, loved as much for its beer as its truf­fle fries; Har­lem Tav­ern, of­fer­ing am­ple pa­tio seat­ing; and Hop House Har­lem, a newer bar that pairs hip hop and sleek New York-themed de­sign with lo­cal brews and up­scale Ital­ian pub fare.

At Bier­strasse, a Ger­man-themed beer gar­den lo­cated un­der the 12th Av­enue viaduct over­look­ing the Hud­son River, tra­di­tional Bavar­ian brews take the taps while a small bot­tle and can se­lec­tion high­lights lo­cal brews for Har­lem and the Bronx, as well as larger na­tional brands.

Left » As Is, in Mid­town West, is a fa­vorite among beer geeks and in­dus­try mem­bers alike; Right, top » Lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional beer se­lec­tions, but no bath­tub gin, are on tap at newly opened The Rochard in the Up­per East Side; Right, bot­tom » Top Hops...

Above » Zach Mack pauses a mo­ment to take pride in his bustling beer bar and re­tail shop, Al­pha­bet City Beer Co., in Al­pha­bet City.

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