Well we should start at the start, because the start is always a great place to start. My three week sojourn to United States of America started in New York (via a 14 hour plane trip is LAX and a five hour hop across the US to JFK).
Why New York? Many reasons, because it is the city that never sleeps, because everyone’s your friend in New York city, because I’m told if you can make it there, well you can make it anywhere, oh and of course it’s where my brother and sister in law are currently residing and since one of the purposes of the trip was to visit them New York was where we needed to be.
My brother had been banging on about his favourite bar for a while, so obviously this was going to be the first place we would rest our weary legs and stomachs and order up a few beers.
Why were our legs and stomachs in need of a rest? Well we had had lunch (our first lunch in the US) at the legendary Katz Deli. This is the most famous deli in NYC and is a brilliant introduction to all things American, it’s crowded, full of bewildered tourists and noisy New Yorkers (the standard way to order food in New York seems to be to stand somewhere near the counter and yell your order at the person behind the counter, who may or may not acknowledge your existence, or may or may not shout back something likely rude back at you.)
But at the end of this yelling you will be presented with the world’s largest portion of whatever you have ordered. In the instance of Katz Deli this will be a sandwich where the pastrami is about six times the width of the bread.
From here we started one of our many walks (I should mention that my travelling companion for the US adventure is my long suffering girlfriend Jordan, if I say we, I mean myself and Jord, if I mention Jord, well then I mean Jordan, my girlfriend, not the basketballer, or the big breasted model, or the middle eastern country) . We walked through the East Village, and SoHo, some university square and finally to the Village and into everyone’s favourite bar – Blind Tiger.
As an introduction to US beer bars you could do a lot worse that Blind Tiger – with about 30 odd beers on tap you are not short of choice. We arrived on a Wednesday afternoon and the place was teeming with people, it seemed we had stumbled upon the Brooklyn Brewery showcase.
So this is how it came to pass that Brooklyner Weisse was my first US beer– It was a cloudy darkish yellow colour, Smelt agricultural as good Hefeweizens should. It was not particularly gassy on the sip, and was a little unusual as it had a slight lemony aftertaste that I can only assume was coming from the yeast – All in all quite nice, although the tartness was a little off putting – Schooner
Next up was the Cookie Jar Porter also from Brooklyn Brewery – This beer was almost black with a thin brown head. It smelled of Christmas pudding, with definite rum and raisin overtones. It was not a hoppy beer, but rather it was malty, and spicy, with hints of cinnamon. It was a fantastic beer that was perfect for the cold afternoon that it was – Definitely a Pint
Alas we could not stay at Blind Tiger (although fear not I would reckon for another round later in the week). All that Brooklyn Brewery beer was good preparation for our impending journey – which was to Brooklyn.
Under the watchful eyes of Andre (my Brother) and Cat (his wife, my sister in law) we managed to successfully navigate out way through the Subway system (Jord didn’t even get stuck in any gates) and off to Brooklyn.
After all that work it was time for another brew. So we popped into a bar called Cyprus Avenue – which wasn’t great but they did have a brew called 6 Point Sweet Action on tap. It was an orangey coloured beer with a very wispy looking head (not a great sign given this was meant to be a cream ale). There was little carbonation, almost no smell, and little flavour short of a hoppy kick in the aftertaste – Not a bad beer, but really not that great either – Schooner.
There was another bar next door called Black Sheep so after this one brew we headed in there for our next beer, and our first encounter with the American delicacy of sliders – for you Aussie’s a slider is basically a tiny tiny hamburger, or as American are prone to call them sandwiches, they come in groups of 3 or 5 which makes you wonder why they don’t just make on regular sized burger. Like all American food comes with a side of chips.
Beer wise I choose to stay local and went with the 6 point Righteous Rye this poured a dark golden colour with a little more maltiness than the previous Sweet Action. But like many a US beer the defining characteristic was the hops – a big smack in the head – I would have liked more of the malt less of the hops, but hey that’s just me – I give it a Schooner.
We will leave that night there, although the drinking did continue I ventured outside the state of NY with my next choice (which was a mistake, but more of that in later posts). Rather we need to fast forward a couple of days and back onto the big island of Manhattan, and to another fantastic beer bar – Taproom 307
They may have had 40 beers on tap, but somehow I managed to choice another beer from 6 Point – this time the Brownstone , which was an American Brown ale, and the best of the 6 point beers that I had. It was dark brown, and slightly cloudy with an off white head that fades away quickly. Quite refreshing with great malt flavours coming through and then a hoppy bitterness. – Pint
Fast forward another couple of days and it is raining, hard, and we need to find somewhere close to our hotel to eat. We stubble upon a hipster sanctuary – Brinkley’s Pub and Kitchen
Here I order up Empire Cream Ale. This is a interesting beer for the simple fact it has a nitrogen head, what’s
that? Well it’s what Guinness and Kilkenny have. This is different though, because after the head settles you are left with a light golden clear colour. It also has almost no gas in the sip either. The front of the sip is relatively dull, but with an interesting aftertaste which is both hop bitter but with a creamy almost sweet tinge
It was unlike any beer you could get in Australia, definitely Pint worthy, in fact I enjoyed it so much a ordered another, sat back and watched the big group of hipsters in the corner live out their terribly exciting lives, which seemed to consist of hugging each other, squealing loudly, wearing bandanas, having stupid haircuts and wispy beards. Their lives were in fact so exciting that they felt the need to take photos of almost every second of it.
So here is what I learnt – There are some very good beers that are made in New York, US beer bars have a bigger range than anything in Australia and Hipsters the world over are annoying little shits.
Brooklyner Weisse – Schooner
Brooklyn Brewery Cookie Jar Porter – Pint
6 point Wweet action – Schooner
6 point Righteous Rye – Schooner
6 Point Brownstone – Pint
Empire Cream Ale – Pint
Long Bow Youtube Clip – New York City by They might be giants – which I had stuck in my head for the first three days I spent in New York City.