Ah, another Draft Mag Top 100 list, another reminder to do more traveling outside the East Coast. Didn’t make much headway this year, as some of the bars I’ve hit in past (Bier Markt, Sunset Tap and Grill) are off this year’s list, so while I have hit four new places since last year, I’m only up to nine total.
I’m hoping to add ChurchKey to this list next month, Monk’s Cafe during Philly Beer Week, and surely Torst is in my sights later this year. How many of America’s Best Beer Bars have you been to?
EDIT: For clarity, I just want to reiterate, this is not my top list of bars, this is a personal recollection of the places I’ve visited that were featured on Draft Mag’s America’s Best Beer Bars for 2014. Please click through the link at the top or bottom of this post to see their full list.
Blind Tiger was a little smaller than Rattle N Hum, but packed just as many people that day. The windows were open, the sun was shining in, the energy was great, staff was attentive and the beer conversation was lengthy.
First thing to do was grab a beer. Pretty Things is not something you see on tap regularly (at all) in Upstate NY. The first time I’ve had their stuff was at last year’s American Craft Beer Festival in Boston, followed by Belgium Comes to Cooperstown later that summer. I picked up a couple of bottles at Table and Vine on the way back from Armsby Abby’s StoutFest but haven’t gotten around to cracking them open yet. Here was the line up for this stop:
Pretty Things Beer – Fluffy White Rabbits
Left Hand Brewing Company – Black Jack Porter
Brooklyn Brewery – Black Chocolate Stout (2004-2005 vintage)
Pretty Things did it’s damn thing, like usual. As always, it’s deserves the hype, and I’ll probably go home and crack open one of my bottles of this tonight. The LH Black Jack Porter didn’t do much for me, but it didn’t matter since before I could even finish drinking it JD came back around with this gem: A 2004-2005 Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout.
Now, I’m a big fan of Black Chocolate Stout so I was very much looking forward to drinking this version that was aged for damn near close to a decade. But then I noticed something on the bottle: It was bottled in Utica, NY. I found that interesting so I had to do a little research. Turns out when Brooklyn Brewery was going through their growing pains in the middle of the last decade, they outsourced some of their brewing to F.X. Matt Brewing Company. This was… distressing. There aren’t a lot of beers that come out of F.X. Matt (who bottle all of the Saranac beers) that I give a flying fuck about. That’s not to say they don’t do good beer, but they definitely don’t do any beers that are going to floor me. We cracked open the bottle, split it between the three of us and were hit with an extremely unexpected (and unwanted) nose. It was a soy bomb. GROSS. Soy everywhere from the nose to taste to the finish and every other aspect of the beer. It was disgusting and extremely disappointing. I finished it, but immediately went back to the Black Jack.
Beyond the soy bomb, Blind Tiger was fucking awesome. We ended up seated at a table next to the fireplace and chatted with two guys for a couple of hours who were from visiting NYC from the UK about the difference between American Craft Beer and Europe’s Real Ale (among other topics) while they sipped on the last Heady Topper in the house. This is exactly the kind of experience that should happen in the craft beer community every day and I’m looking forward to hitting up Blind Tiger again.