We’re not quite sure how we’ve managed to miss the other two New York Craft Beer Week celebrations but suffice it to say we will not be missing them again. To kick things off we headed to Hell’s Kitchen/Midtown West to test out some watering holes and brews that don’t see much playing time in our normal rotation. The overall verdict? Go west, young man, go west.
Stop 1: The Pony Bar; 45th Street & 10th Ave
- The Beer: Ithaca Beer Company, Super Friends SFTO Wine Barrel; ABV 8%
- The Verdict: Being the most un-timid of souls we started the day strong with this ale that was conditioned in red wine barrels. It had a lighter amber color with medium body and a slightly bitter start. This one continued all over the flavor spectrum with notes of sour that turned to sweet with hints of caramel playing back up. The beer finished with a slightly smoky, tannic taste which we assume to be the influence of the vino. Overall, this brewmasters’ collaboration is a good sipping beer with a complex taste profile that should satisfy oenophiles and hop heads alike.
As for the venue, while the location is more out of the way than usual, The Pony Bar makes it more than worth your while. This is a beer-drinkers’ bar with a regularly rotating draught menu that includes some slightly more obscure styles (they had two cask ales when we stopped in). Menus with tasting notes, knowledgeable staff and functional decor (there are benches and stools: pick one) make this an eminently enjoyable place to quaff a brew or two.
Stop 2: Delta Grill; 48th Street & 9th Ave
- The Beer: Abita Beer, Pecan Harvest Ale; ABV 5%
- The Verdict: This seasonal offering from the Louisiana brewer is on the lighter-bodied side as far as ales go, which is quite the accomplishment considering the pecan-flavored thunder that it brings. Seriously, this beer is like drinking a carbonated bowl of pecans, which is good if you’re into that kind of thing but could get a little too nutty if you’re looking for more complexity or even subtlety. necessarily a bad thing. With a decent finish, Abita Pecan is good for making your palate pause and think about all the things it’s done before you continue your beery journey.
We’ve never been to New Orleans (or greater Louisiana for that matter) but we hope it’s like the Delta Grill. This easygoing bar (editor’s note: it was also three in the afternoon) is drenched in N’awlins kitsch but is totally redeemed by a breezy, open front and a great draught beer selection. Posted happy hour specials that included Abita and hurricanes also made us ponder when we could return for a little southern hospitality.
Stop 3: Shorty’s; 42nd Street & 9th Ave
- The Beer: Brewery Ommegang, Abbey Ale; ABV 8.5%
- The Verdict: A perennial heavy hitter with Belgians up to here, subtlety is not Ommegang’s strong suit. All doubt was erased when our Abbey Ales came in goblets and we readied ourselves for a full on taste bud smackdown. This classic brew hits you with a malty, sweet taste with caramel and even notes of brown sugar. A full mouth feel and long finish make this one a definite sipper. As with most of the beers we tried this one was delicious but anything over two glasses will fill you up and seriously affect your ability to stay vertical.
Shorty’s gets the “hidden gem” award for this crawl. An unabashedly Philadelphia bar, this small space cranks out great beer and great food. We didn’t sample everything but we strongly recommend making the trip solely for the roast pork sandwich with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone. The ingredients are mixed together to ensure you get a bit of everything in every bite; the results are in-f**king-credible. We seriously contemplated getting hoagies to go, but alas, there was more beer to be had.
Stop 4: The Long Room; 44th Street between 5th Ave & Broadway
- The Beer: Blue Point Brewing Company, Rastafa Rye; ABV 7.5%
- The Verdict: Blue Point is a beer we normally drink when it’s around but don’t actively seek out. This may change after trying the Rastafa Rye. A full bodied, malty, hoppy rye this potable keeps you on your toes with citrus and floral notes as it lingers. A long, balanced finish makes this beer a thoroughly enjoyable sipper. We had a second just to check for consistency and let’s just say we stopped taking tasting notes after that.
The Long Room was a great place to throw back a couple on a Saturday afternoon but our friendly barkeep, Kieran, informed us that it was a corporate zoo on weeknights. We highly suggest sneaking in on the weekend to marvel at all the marble, stained glass and wood work. Irish accents and a good pour help add to the ambiance.