Liam Deegan

A Taste of Gotham

In Fermented Thought on January 2, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Here’s a quick recap and review of beers from my recent trip to New York.

On my 1 a.m. walk from Penn Station to the apartment I decided that showing up empty handed would be of no benefit to my host, nor to myself as I was getting increasingly thirsty and looking forward to trying beers from breweries that Louisiana and Rhode Island do not get due to distribution.  Seeing as it was past 1 a.m. the only location that I could come up with was a 24-hour deli around the corner from my destination.  Right off the corner of 14th and 3rd was a deli that really surprised me with their beer selection.  A full refrigerated aisle dedicated to beer was what waited inside, and after walking past the 24 ounce cans of Budweiser and single cans of Sparks I was greeted by a pretty good craft selection and walked out with a 6-pack of Troegs Hopback Amber.  On a funny side note, at the register I noticed an odd fruit flavored beer from Magic Hat, that would have been a bummer to find later.  I switched it for a Blue Point toasted lager and left with 5 Troegs and the one Blue Point.

The Troegs Hopback Amber is my new favorite session type beer.  It is one of those great balanced beers, but not shy with either malt or hops.  Has a great floral hop aroma, with some citrus.  The harmonic flavor of both the spicy pine and caramel malt makes for a very delicious beer.

The Blue Point Toasted Lager was great as well, nice biscuit and bready malt flavors and a crisp beer.  Great for dinner if you don’t want to overwhelm your palate.

The next adventure brought me to Lil’ Frankie’s for dinner, where it was a wine night to go with the incredible bruschetta (those tomatoes can’t be beat), and proscuitto pizza.  Before dinner however I had a beer while waiting in the crowded Lower East Side restaurant.  I had the beer brewed by Sixpoint in Brooklyn specifically for the restaurant, Lil’ Frankie’s Pale ale.  It was nice and mild, a good beer before a meal.  Some hop pine flavors were dominant enough to give it a nice flavor and the astringency prepped me for a big meal.  The Chianti with dinner was a Colli Senesi, which disappeared quickly.  After dinner I was convinced into trying espresso.  As I’ve said before, coffee is not my thing.  Caffeine keeps me up and staying up late is not a problem I have, getting to sleep is.  The bitterness of coffee is also way too much, even with sugar and milk.  However, I love the smell of coffee, coffee beers and just the idea of coffee in general, as it is a prime example of communal consumption.  I must say, I am now hooked on espresso, it was delicious.

Dba was the next stop.  It has the same owners as the one in New Orleans, and it is very similar in appearance and vibe.  Too full to go straight to beer, some Jameson was in order. The beer list is just as great here and I was excited to see J.W. Lee’s Harvest vintage 2006 among the bottles.  After a short wait to get a bottle from the basement, it was sitting in front of me and gave off a nose of raisins, and sweet dark fruit.  It was pretty sweet and vinous and was a very good drink, but I decided it would be best sipped from a snifter or wine glass in proper barleywine fashion and not in a bar as just one of many drinks in a night.  However, when the temperature is in the 20’s, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the warmth for the rest of the night.

Later, the Blue and Gold Tavern, a pretty deep dive of a bar was the next stop.  Odd pictures and ornaments lined the walls holding up the low ceiling.  The cheap drinks were served by a surly bartender with the frame of a bouncer, who apparently added that to her job description after seeing her shout for IDs of immediately entering patrons with no hesitation of 86ing the lads coming in before me at the slightest hint of back talk.  The Blue and Gold lager, as we found out, shared something with 2009 as the New Year approached: better out, than in.

Now at this point in the night, the name of the last place escapes me.  We went to what I recall as an organic Mexican food place where straggling frat boys ended their night obnoxiously,  and nachos were ordered along with Anchor Steam for me and Pacificos for my brother.  If you go to this place (you may recognize it by the splatter of glow-in the -dark paint on the bathroom door in the back room which is my only means of identifying it), make sure you make any specific order modifications (like “no sour cream”) loud enough so the weary one man server/bartender/burrito roller can hear you, and make sure you keep your jacket close by.  Apparently one of the aforementioned members of the Westchester invasion was a victim of pea coat theft.  I’m sure he had a back-up supply of Axe body spray at home, so not to worry.

The next day, an evening bite was provided by Peasant in the Nolita neighborhood.  This somewhat hidden, rustic below ground bar is lined with tea light candles and bare wood tables with a small bar towards the back.  They have great simple dishes (a custom panini, salads, fish and plenty of wine).  I had a Forst, a light Italian made lager with a bit of a malt breadiness that worked very well with a tuna and white bean salad and parmesan breadsticks.

Later in the night, hunger hit again and the allure of Artichoke just around the corner from where I was staying was too much to resist.  Down from the corner of 2nd and 14th, Artichoke is a miniscule pizza place that is known for Spinach and Artichoke dip topped pizzas, 32oz. foam cup Budweisers and long lines.  I try to go to Artichoke at least twice when I go to New York, even if I’m only in town for the day, and since it’s open til 5:30 a.m. on weekends, that late night slice is made a little bit more accessible.  A stop at the deli up the street and I had some Goose Island Honker’s Ale, an English bitter that had some bready malt with some fruit and spice notes, and it was enough to wash down the generous slices from Artichoke.

I left New York satisfied by my (over)consumption, yet still hungry and thirsty for my next visit, as this city has endless experiences to be had.  My final adventure was being humbled yet again by the complexities of the subway system and surprisingly got out from Penn Station on New Year’s Eve alive.  New York is delicious, diverse and expensive. It is a city like New Orleans that you just can’t stay away from for too long.  Thanks for having me.  Cheers!

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