As you know, beer isn’t just for cooking… it’s also for drinking! Duh. And every region of the world claims their beer is the best. And you know what? We agree. Beer is good. It’s delicious. And it makes us drunk. And we like our beer how we like our women — freezing cold. No, wait, we meant to say "with variety." So in an effort to give all the exciting regional beers shine, we’re packing our bags and going on a beer tour. First stop? New York!
Great NYC Bars
Brooklyn’s Beer Table might be one of the most coveted beer bars in all of New York. An affordable bar that has a huge list of beer (25 bottled beers that change DAILY) within the New York City limits? Unheard of!
The uber-expensive Gramercy Tavern (one of the finest restaurants in all of New York) might not be able to beat Beer Table’s prices, but its huge and varied list of draft and bottled beers and ciders is something to witnessed first hand. Yes, an $8 pint is too expensive (especially when it’s paired with a $50 entree) but Gramercy Tavern earns points for having the balls to pair a truly fine-dining experience with some truly kick-ass beers.
Resto, another fine-dining establishment, has a similar loving relationship with beer. But they’ve gone one step farther than Gramercy Tavern and offer Monday Night Beer Dinners. For a fixed price of $75, you’ll get a 3 course meal paired with the perfect beer. That’s like Disneyland for food and drink aficionados.
Great NYC Microbrews
The king of New York City microbrews is the almighty Brooklyn Brewery. The ubiquitous-in-NYC Brooklyn Brewery makes a wide range of beers, from the popular Brooklyn Lager to Belgium-style Brooklyner Weisse to Russian-style extra dark Black Chocolate Stout. The beers are great and the brewery is open to the public on Friday nights (head to their website for more info). Brooklyn Brewery’s main attraction, the Lager, is available in several big cities outside of New York but their seasonal brews and "Brewmasters Reserve" line are only served inside the city limits.
McSorley’s Old Ale House, possibly the most famous bar in New York City, makes their own delicious dark ale called, oddly enough, McSorely’s Ale. The actual McSorely’s Old Ale House is often too crowded with drunken tourists to enjoy but thankfully many of the surrounding bars have McSorely’s on tap. You can also buy McSorely’s Ale bottled nationwide but it’s a far inferior product to the original.
The Heartland Brewery is a chain of NYC brewpubs that serves their own wide range of beers and ales. The beers are great and you can get a taster’s menu (as well as the gigantic-sized, 3-liter Beer Goddess) Just make sure to skip the food — it’s nowhere near as tasty as the beer.
There are a few more NYC microbreweries, such as the Chelsea Brewing Company and Sixpoint Craft Ales but if you have to move just outside to open up the plethora of great microbrews available in New York State
New York State Microbrews
The Utica, NY-based Saranac Brewery is a tri-state favorite, with the Pale Ale being the most popular the large microbrewery makes.
But if you want to experience the best of New York State’s microbrews, you have to go small… like Albany, NY’s Evans Ale. You can only get Evan’s Ale, an award-winning brown ale, at the Albany Pump House restaurant. The brewer, George de Piro, was a former homebrew fanatic from Brooklyn who took his passion for beer from his home to a restaurant in New York State’s capitol city.
Long Island is also a good source for great microbrews. Patchouge, NY alone has Brick House Brewery and Blue Point Brewing Company. The Brick House Brewery & Restaurant has been around sine 1914 (that’s some old beer!) and the Blue Point Brewing Company, though not quite as old as The Brick House, has an award-winning selection of beers, including the 2006 World Beer Cup Gold Award-winning Toasted Lager.
Bay Shore, NY (also on Long Island) is home to the Great South Bay Brewery which makes the Massive Indian Pale Ale, which has received an A+ from the beer snobs on Beer Advocate. That’s no small feat.
And we must never forget the Southampton Ales & Lagers brewery because the rich, snooty old people who live in Southampton would disapprove of being forgotten.
Moving upstate, the Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, NY, might be one of the most cherished and most award-winning breweries in the state. Ommegang’s Belgium-style beers have won numerous awards with its cave-aged Hennepin having taken home a coveted Gold Medal from the great American Beer Festival. If you’re serious about splashing new and unique beer flavors over your palate, these micromicrobrews are the way to go. And we let’s not forget about the Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Pleasantville, NY, with their Captain’s Reserve Imperial Indian Pale Ale being a favorite of many a beer drinker in the region.