New York, NY: Cheers and Beers at Blind Tiger [Post-Grad Boozin’]

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.

Manhattan, NY: Harpoon Leftovers at Rattle N Hum [Post-Grad Boozin’]

Let me apologize for the pictures I’ll post today from my last trip to NYC since it seems most bars there have their mood-lighting set to “Rape”. Rattle N Hum was the worst offender of the places we went to that day. Cave-like appearance at like 4 in the afternoon, lit mostly by tealight candles. Kinda a shame considering how beautiful of a day it was, but the dark is great for boozin’, not so great for taking pics. Also, being hammered by this point in the day didn’t help the photography, either. I digress.

After JD’s graduation and receiving his Masters Degree from Columbia, celebration was in order. We had several rounds of drinks and eats at a couple of bars of his parents choosing, but after that is was time to get to the real drinking. Rattle N Hum was our first stop, and we took advantage of the previous night’s Harpoon Tap Takeover while we were there.

First two beers were the Harpoon Leviathan Barleywine 2010 and 2011 versions. Both were “just OK” and didn’t really stand out for the style for me. We realized at this point that if we wanted to try the number of beers we planned on having there and still make it to any of our other destinations that day we were going to have to switch to flights. No biggie. We ordered two:

  • Brewery Ommegang – Zuur
  • Founders Brewing Company – Double Trouble
  • Harpoon Brewery – Leviathan Imperial IPA
  • Harpoon Brewery – Leviathan Quad
  • Harpoon Brewery – Rodney’s Solera
  • Rogue Ales – Chipotle Ale
  • Rogue Ales – John John Dead Guy Ale
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – Kellerweis Hefeweizen

Honestly, other than the Double Trouble which I’ve had before, none of these beers knocked it out of the park for me. Most were good or better, some were terrible (Zuur, Chipotle). Next time I go to Rattle N Hum will be for a tap-takeover I am really looking forward to (like the Cigar City one a couple of weeks ago, or their upcoming Founders night).

As for Rattle N Hum itself, it didn’t completely blow me away either. It’s one of those bars that are too small for waiter-service but they have it anyway, and you really just want to go to the bar to grab drinks but you get hounded by waitresses instead. Maybe things are different on a event night. I’ll let you know when and if I make it to one.

New York, NY: Late-Night Blurriness with Dogfish Head at Eataly [Post-Grad Boozin’]

The last foggy stop of the night was Eataly. Well, it was supposed to be the roof-top beer garden Birreria, but they were too busy to let us up there and took our names and number instead. Or we were just visibly drunk and they didn’t want us up there. I’m going to go with the former.

Right around the corner was the beer section of the Market. Not surprisingly there was a fair selection of Dogfish Head beers, some easy to get a hold of, some rather difficult. The one that stood out the most was Urkcontinent, the DFH /Google collaboration beer that hit DFH’s brewpub last fall but hasn’t made it to bottles until recently. After purchasing it, we asked if there was a place where we could crack it open and we were told we could grab some glasses and shop around, but tables were for eating guests. Totally fine with us.

We “found” some wine glasses and a table in the market by La Pizza and started pouring. This beer was fantastic. The past couple of new DFH beers I’ve tried have been kinda let downs (ta henket, Tweason’ale), and this one completely blew my mind. the coffee and chocolate notes are outstanding. I’ll admit that at this point I was three sheets to the wind, but we still all collectively enjoyed this beer. Definitely picking one of these up when it hits the Capital Region.

We still had some time to kill so we grabbed another two bottles from the fridge: Black & Blue and Sah’tea. We drank these and bullshitted and chatted with guests and shopped. It was an amazing time, probably better than actually making it up to Birreria. I picked up some pasta, some of “the stinkiest, nastiest, smelliest, feetiest” cheeses they had available, along with some aged prosciutto and some dessert to go. In my drunken stupor, NONE of this made it home on the train with me, which is a huge disappointment.

So Eataly was a great time. But I didn’t really get to experience Eataly since we kinda took an unconventional approach to enjoying our time there. I will be back (with Elise in tow next time) to enjoy all of the delicious beer and Italian food to the fullest.