Category Archives: beer buying

I’m falling, far as I can go

In a lot of ways I’m going to miss 2014. The previous year ended on such a sour note for me that 2014 was bound to be better, based on the balance of nature. 2014 still had its ups and downs, but just like before we made it through the good and the bad. As in previous years, I’m going to stick to what I know, baseball, beer, food and music. Here is 2014 as it mattered to me.

Just A Bit Outside
Madison Bumgarner! Wow, what else can you say. The surly lefty carried the SF Giants on his back to a World Series win. I love the guy, but know that he’s gonna have it rough in 2015 with all those innings logged this year. The Kansas City Royals making it to within an out of tying the series was incredibly impressive as well. Baseball, really needed that and obviously so did the KC fans. It gave a lot of hope to just about any team. A few smart moves and your team could end up in the same spot. That’s probably my favorite thing about baseball now, the parity and quality of competition. Just about every team, bar a few exceptions, have a chance to compete.  The Yankees season was just frustrating all around. Injuries and old age really caught up with the team this year. Quote from last year “This team badly needs a youth infusion”. The same sentiment rings true again. They are moving in the right direction, but still have so many questions about their injuries, age and depth. I hope they have a few more moves in store for this offseason, because the team as it looks now, is not a playoff team. And as KC showed, just getting in is half the battle some times. Anything can happen in the postseason now a days.IMG_5986

Last thing about baseball. I cannot remember what it’s like to watch a Yankee game without good old #2 in the lineup. I cannot believe it’s been 20 years since the Yanks had a shortstop different from Derek Jeter. I was fortunate to see him play one of his very first games in 1996 and one of his last in 2014. The guy was a competitor, a class act and a winner. We should be so lucky to see a player like that in our lifetime. He will be missed, by both myself and baseball fans around the world. Best of luck to the man in whatever he decides to do in the future.

 

The Foamy Stuff
I enjoyed so many great beers this year. There was the amazing Bruery event at Gingerman in September that featured so many beers I never thought I’d try. As for other beers I’ve enjoyed, the new Brooklyn brewery, Other Half did not disappoint one bit. They make tons of hoppy and floral beers, Green Diamonds and Southernhopalistic amongst the best. They have a cool little tasting room as well. Worth a visit if you can make it. Transmitter in LIC is also making some really fantastic saison and farmhouse beers, some with really funky sour notes to them. You can try just about anything of theirs and it will be solid.

My favorite new beer bar in NYC, is the conveniently located Bondurants in the Upper East Side. They have a fantastic selection, with a good amount of quality beers on draft, plus really solid food and friendly, knowledgable staff. It’s a great looking bar too, with old wood finish and an awesome copper bar. Other new favorites include the Jeffrey and Fools Gold. Both solid spots with great selections. Lots of great new places opened this year, one of the more anticipated being the Bronx Brewery’s spot in Hunters Point. Surprisingly a quick 20 minute subway ride from the UES.

In My Belly
It was yet another great year for eating out and food. I tried a bunch of new spots in 2014. Amongst my favorite was the fantastic thin crust pizza and rabbit meatballs at Marta. The Roman-style pizza was inventive and delicious, with toppings like a sunny side egg, tripe, goat sausage and zucchini flowers. Lots of other good stuff on the menu as well. Another of my favorite new places tried was Bar Primi, in the old Peels location on the Bowery. Really solid garlic linguini, kicked up with 4 cloves of the stuff. Really solid. Easily one of my favorite dishes tried all year. Alidoro makes probably my favorite sandwiches in the city. So good. IMG_6173

Another of my favorite new places was Mimi Cheng’s dumplings in the East Village. They are doing some cool stuff with dumplings, aside from traditional versions. They had a buffalo chicken dumpling earlier in the fall, plus a Thanksgiving dumpling. Their homemade sauce is also pretty great, so good, I think they should sell it on it’s own. It would become a hot condiment, much like hot honey or sriracha. Speaking of which, Mokbar in Chelsea market is doing some really cool and inventive stuff with Korean-style ramen and kimchi. Their lunch special bibimbap topped with seasonal vegetables, spicy dressing and pork, was one of the best I’ve ever had. Can’t wait to get back there and try more stuff from the menu.

In One Ear
Like last year, I’m going to start with some of the records that I think are good, but just missed on something. First off, is the SBTRKT album. I was expecting so much from this album, maybe unrealistically so. The previous album was a revelation, mixing many electronic, dance, dub and hiphop elements, plus combining an array of talented quest vocalists. The first few singles showed so much promise too. However this record really falters on so many levels. The songs seem incomplete and as if they were written for the vocalists involved, instead of bringing them in as almost another instrument. That’s what made the first album so special. There was a cohesive vibe and the vocalists all blended into the formula so well. A few other records that I was expecting a lot more from include the Gaslight Anthem, Ariel Pink, Antlers and iceage records. The Gaslight album just fell short in memorable hooks and stories. A fine album, but that’s all. The Ariel Pink just didn’t seem to take his songwriting to the next level as I expected. The Antlers, maybe got a little too much into making a certain kind of record. A couple great songs, but a lot of boring fluff too. The iceage album is just sloppy. I don’t mind the change in direction, they just didn’t fulfill it. The production is just bad, with much of the album sounding terrible, despite some really inventive songwriting. All you hear is vocals, when the instrumentation was begging to be let out.

Finally, on to the best! The Horrors delivered what I think might be their best record yet. They’ve  developed from an art-house punk project into one of the most important UK acts around. Luminous takes their sound and just makes it groovier and picking up the pace. The low end really shines through on this album. There are some sick grooves amongst the droney psychedelia, shoegaze and krautrock stylization. It’s an album that could be listened to going on a long run or paired with a bottle of vodka and hallucinogens. It’s wacked out and trippy, but also very rhythmic and machinelike at times. They made a love ballad and huge Soundgarden type riffs(Mine and Yours) all on the same album. They have perfected their formula and are once again my album of the year.

My second favorite album of the year is Tampa post-punk outfit Merchandise’s After the End. I jokingly told a young colleague of mine that they sounds like The Smiths meet The Wedding Present meets Talk Talk. He obviously looked at me and had no clue what I was talking about. Bare with me though. It’s a fantastic record that wouldn’t have sounded out of place being played to death in an early 90’s college dorm. It’s got that angst ridden influence of 80’s Brit-pop yet totally American spirit that many of my generation grew up on. Just a fantastic album that combines so much of what I loved in music growing up, yet feels fresh and original. MerchandiseCloud Nothings Here and Nowhere Else is just an amazing piece of abrasive, fast paced rock and roll with lyrics that explore mental illness, heartbreak and growing up. It’s a punk rock record for 2014. The guitars are loud and edgy, the drumming is propulsive and maybe some of the best I’ve heard all year. Fantastic album from these kids. 8 songs in 28 minutes. Fuck Yeah! Cheatahs self-titled album is much of what I loved about indie(er..college) rock in the 90’s. Sprawlling guitars, hushed vocals, heavy rhythmsection and some stare at the floor shoegaze. I’m a sucker for that shit, everyone knows that. This album hits on all those notes. They were also the loudest band I saw all year….proportionately speaking of course. We Were Promised Jetpacks third album is the realization of years of hard work. Unraveling sees the young Scots leave behind some of the campy, pubescent, nerd punk they were so known for and sees a mature, thoughtful and driven band. They are louder, tighter and more developed. Structurally, they have more in common with bands like Snow Patrol and Coldplay(the good kind), then they do with what they sounded like before. The songs are a little darker and grander then they’ve ever been before. Huge leap by these guys. Live too, they destroy now.  

The rest of the top ten is a mix of old and new. The Eagulls, made a dark post-punk album that just kicks you in the face. It’s measured, aggresive and angular, with tons of feedback and swirling noise. Toronto’s Death From Above 1979 delivered their 2nd proper studio album, a mere 10 years after their first. It seems like they did not skip a beat, with deep groves, explosive beats and snarky vocals. They developed their craft over the years and sound much more cohesive and accomplished than ever before. Pains of Being Pure At Heart make heart on your sleeve power pop. They’ve gotten really, really good at it. Gone are the days of the back-room indie twee, this IMG_6260band has a full and dynamic sound. They scored a Hershey’s commercial for crying out loud. It makes me happy everytime I see it.  Spoon’s 19th record, well not really it’s only their 8th, but seems like they’ve been around forever huh? Another fantastic album, this one a bit more Elvis Costello than the last record, which I thought was a bit mellow. This is a bunch of methodically crafted songs of jangly pop infused with Southern soul. Excellent as always. Jungle, came through with one of the best debut records in recent memory. They had a ton of hype around them and it was pulsating when they played their first live show in the US last March. I don’t think anyone thought they’d look like they do, which I actually really loved about it. They made a really soulful and groovy record that would make disciples of TV on the Radio and Ratatat proud.

From there, a bunch of great albums from old mainstays, TV On The Radio, Interpol, Kevin Drew, Jesse Ware, Kele Okerke, Wild Beasts, Twilight Sad, Caribou, The Drums, Aurelio Valle and more, plus Nenah Cherry came back with a phenomenal new album produced by Fourtet, her first in some time. Run the Jewels made the hip hop album of the year and let us hear something from Zach De La Rocha for the first time in ages. The Jazz June returned with their fist album in some ten years. New stuff from upstarts and new acts Ryan Hemsworth, Movement, Ume, Little Daylight,  Perfume Genius, Alvvays, FKA Twigs, War on Drugs, Phantogram, The Young, Single Mothers, and Bass Drum of Death. Additionally, there were some really solid EP’s and singles from Operators, featuring Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade, plus a solid EP from No Devotion, featuring old friend Geoff from Thursday, plus the remaining members of Lostprophets. Additionally, old pal Walter Schreifels popped up on Vanishing Life, a melodic hardcore band he fronts. And finally, Les Sins the dancey side project of Chaz Bundick, the mastermind behind Toro y Moi.

Listening Pile: The Horrors– In and Out of Sight – My favorite song on the album,  this trippy sounscape of swirling guitars and funky bassline is just so incredibly awesome. The video is weird. Looks like some sort of loopy clip. Maybe fan made. Don’t know.

Cheers,

-fred

Couldn’t explain it, I wouldn’t even try

She is so lovely, she makes me feel high
So, the annual Draft Magazine 100 best beer bars in America list hit last week. I’ve seen lots and lots of chatter about the local New York bars. I’m sure there’s been plenty written about all the regions hits and misses. For the most part, they hit the nail right on the head, but I’m honestly dumbfounded by their inclusion of LES beer shop, Top Hops. It’s a nice place, for sure, but it’s not even technically a beer bar. Go figure.

Anyhows, we’re pretty lucky to have so many great beer spots here in NY, including the Blind Tiger, Spuyten Duyvil, Bierkraft and Rattle n Hum, all listed by Draft Mag. However, they leave out the amazing and time honored Gingerman, as well as Jimmy’s No. 43, Pony Bars, DBA and many, many other staples of the NYC craft beer community. See, I told ya. New Yorkers are really, really lucky to have so many great joints to grab a pint at.

Listening Pile: Wild Nothing – Only Heather
It took me a while, maybe even a couple extra weeks in January to decide that the 2nd album from Wild Nothing was my favorite album of 2012. Full of dreamy melodies, touches of synth and oddly sounding like Fleetwood Mac on occasion, this record was the perfect sophomore album for Jack Tatum’s Wild Nothing project. The production, song writing and delicate instrumentation of this album truly shows how this guy has perfected his craft. The song above is my 2nd favorite on the album after the title track, Nocturne. Have a listen, as it easily soundtracks this gloomy day in NYC.

Cheers,
-fred

you know it in the nightime…


Caught A Rising Star
By random chance last night, I got to visit the new Soho beer spot, Houston Hall. It’s a huge 5,000 sq foot space with lots of tables and space for many, many people opened by the same folks that own the Heartland Brewery locations. It’s got the whole looks like an old car garage vibe to it. Lots of exposed brick, concrete floors, exposed metal and brick work. The place looks good.

Now on to the good stuff, the food and beer. Well, seems like they have all their beers hand crafted just for them by the Greenpoint Beer Works. So, at least you know they are making quality stuff. Seems like each beer was named after the specific brewer that designed that style beer for them. I had the Jeffrey IPA, which wasn’t bad. Nice citrus tones and a little bit of bitterness. I did not sample the food, but looks like it had a good amount of bar food. My friends sampled the wings and came back with positive impressions.

Be interesting to see what happens to this space. It looks good and had a good vibe, but it was opening night. There were still a lot of kinks to work out. The crowd and vibe wants to make you think you’re in Williamsburg, but I can see that changing very, very quickly seeing the neighborhood it’s in.

Listening Pile: Diiv – Doused
Another one of my favorite songs of 2012. Great debut album from the Brooklyn four piece. Really well-crafted lo-fi nugaze from the Captured Tracks folks that have unleashed a flurry of great bands recently. I really, really loved this record. Give it a spin.

You park the car out in the open, you can walk inside


Now, if you want to hear some music like the boys are playing
This is great news indeed. The guys that run the Amsterdam Ale house on the UWS have just opened up The 3rd Avenue Ale House. Located at the old Brother Jimmy spot on 92nd and 3rd Ave, this is prime real estate and delivers yet another quality craft beer spot in the Upper East Side. If you know of the reputation that the Amsterdam Ale has, then you know to expect quality craft beer and some tasty bar food.

I believe I counted 32 draft taps the other day and a hand-pumped cask tap too. They were soft launched and will still not be fully operational for a bit, but as of Sunday night, it looked like the front room was open for business with some sort of food being served, plenty of beers flowing and football on the TV’s. I’m sure this will turn into a local hangout for me, seeing as I live a block and a half away.

Listening Pile: Rolling Stones – Carol
Just read this awesome excerpt from Stanley Booth’s book, True Adventures of the Rolling Stones. Wow, great stuff. Makes me want to go pick up the rest of the book. Here’s the account of them playing at MSG. Crazy to think some 50 years later they are gonna play the Garden, again. Think about that for a second. What band from today could you possibly see still playing 50 years from now?

Cheers,
-fred

http://youtu.be/iZq4cLd348w

I know of people who are getting old


Instead I mumble randomly
So if today is really supposed to be the end of the world, what are we drinking and what are we listening to? Looks like there’s a whole bunch of activity around Stone’s 12.12.12 Vertical Epic release, with both Blind Tiger and Alewife having vertical tastings. There’s also the Westy 12 brick packs on sale today. Crazy good stuff! Maybe the Man of Steel will come save the day.

Listening Pile: The Knife – Silent Shout
Just read something about them posting details about their new album, including an album teaser. Yeah, weird, that’s apparently a thing bands do now. Album teaser videos. OK…

Anyhows, thought this would be the perfect soundtrack for the end of the world. It’s visceral, pounding beats and airy synth keyboards make for a panic induced head rush. Sorta like drinking too much Westy 12 or Stone’s Vertical epic. I saw them live back around the time this song was huge for them. They were impressive.

Cheers,
-fred
http://youtu.be/MJZUtB1O1Yg

lend me your ears…


I Get By, With A Little Help From My Friends
Wow, amazing stuff being done by the Long Island Craft Beer scene to help out brother in need, Barrier Brewing. They’ve had a ton of bad luck fall on them lately with Sandy causing upwards of $100,000 in damages. But luckily, they have a lot of friends helping them get back on their feet with some fundraisers, a collaboration with Ommegang. And now this. Huge collaboration with Strong Island’s finest craftbeersman, including Blue Point, Spider Bite, Greenport and more. Great stuff that truly shows, Craft Beer People Are Good People. Best of luck to the Barrer guys in getting their facilities back up and making awesome beer.

Listening Pile: Beatles – With A Little Help From My Friends
Friends, can’t live without them…that’s it. It’s really tough to live without friends.

We’re Drinking At Doyle’s

During my trip to Boston last weekend, I got the chance to check out not one, but two of the local craft breweries, Sam Adams and Harpoon. They were the two biggest, which was OK in my book, though I would have love to have visited some others like Ipswitch, Night Shift, Notch or Clown Shoes, but those I guess might not be open for tours or located a little outside the area where we stayed. Not every brewery has a tasting room. Though I will say, we did get to try a ton of local beers during our adventure, including some amazing beers from Jack’s Abbey, Pretty Things and Mystic Brewery. We didn’t get to try all the top Craft Beer bars, but we did hit some awesome places including Meadhall, which aside from having an awesome selection, also had great food. Try the meatloaf, trust me. We also hit, Sunset Grill which had a really great selection, including some Dogfish 120 minute, which well, marked the end of our Saturday night.

Dressed and Buttoned Up
First stop after Fenway and Boston Beer Works on Saturday, was lunch. Yup, good ole boring lunch at one of the café’s near Sam Adams. Not much happened there in terms of beer. We were still working off the previous night’s toils. So, we ended up doing a quick tasting at the Sam Adam’s tasting room, where they served us their Whitewater IPA and Summer Seasonal. Not a whole lot going on, but very friendly staff, that must have said they are the greatest brewery on the planet of Earth, about 40 times during our brief chat. Team loyalty, gotta love it. They kicked us out of the tasting room as they had a tour come through. So, we got tickets(which are free) for a later tour.With about an hour and half to kill, we took the free shuttle to Doyle’s. We had quite the amusing driver, who mentioned how Doyle’s, aside from having the best lobster roll and clam chowder, was actually the first beer to carry Sam Adams, anywhere. Yup, the first in the world, to carry Jim Koch’s Boston Lager. Pretty cool. It’s a local townie bar, with a fun atmosphere. My buddy used to hang out there all

the time when he went to law school in Boston. I even remember him talking about it, so figured, why not make the short trip. Despite me proudly wearing my Yankee shirt, I only received two comments on it. That was sorta surprising. Needless to say, fun little local spot and they had a great special, where you’d get a Sam Adams glass with a purchase of any of their beers. Sign me up.So, after Doyle’s we quickly hurried back to jump on the tour. They start you off the way many brewery tours start, they did a run down of the basic ingredients in beer; water, malt, hops and yeast. They let you taste some of their barley, smell the hops. Then they take you over to the big brewing and tanks, talk about the process, the fermenting, the styles they create there, etc… I guess most of their initial test and small batches come from this brewery location, but they have another two cranking out the bulk of their beer.

 

And Between Nineteen, Nineteen, Forty

From there, you end up in a tasting room. Where they talk about the styles you’re about to taste, their flagship beer, the Boston Lager, then the Summer Seasonal and the closer, the Latitude 48 IPA. They also talked about their fancy little glass that Jim said we must all have after a trip to Germany and seeing how each beer has it’s own distinct glass. So, that’s it. Quick and straight on to the drinking of the beer. There wasn’t a whole lot going on and not all that much tasting, but definitely cool to get the tour around one of the staples of the American Craft beer movement.

We got to Harpoon Brewery after hitting Yankee Lobster Company just down the street. If you’re making the visit, definitely stop by there for some food before you head over. They had a fantastic lobster roll that was actually reasonably priced. They have a few beers and wine available too if your heart desires. So, now with full stomachs, we made our way over to Harpoon ready to drink some beverages. We waited about 20 minutes in the tasting room/gift shop. This was the perfect tactic to get us to buy stuff. They had really cool stuff, lots and lot of stuff that just made sense to buy. T-shirts, tasting glasses, hats, towels, etc… All at a great price point too.

Big difference here vs. Sam Adams is, you start drinking beer the moment you start the tour. They rocked some IPA right at the beginning as you stand around and here about the history, ingredients and what’s in the big tanks you are looking at. 2nd stop on the tour, they let you taste some IPA straight outta the fermenting tanks. That was pretty neat. Had a very cask type feel, with no carbonation and almost at room temperature. They then showed us their kegging and bottling lines. Even showed us where all the kegs are stored once filled. They claimed about 90% of all Harpoon beers you’ve had on draft come straight from that fridge. I thought that was pretty cool.

From there, we went back to the tasting room, where they talk about a couple of the different styles of beer they brew, you know, while actually letting you sample them. Then, they let you hang out in the tasting room, letting you sample any beer you want to try. Me, being a big fan of their Leviathan series, I pretty much went for all of those, including the Great Scott, Imperial IPA and Red Squared. Very, very good stuff. So good, my cousins even got some growlers to make the ride home with us. All and all, an awesome experience and definitely one of the best brewery tours I’ve ever had. Highly recommended if you find yourself in Boston.

Listening Pile:
Promise Ring – Why Did We Ever Meet
Awesome song, probably my favorite from their album Nothing Feels Good. I was never a big fan, but a bunch of my friends liked them while we were growing up. We walked past the Paradise on our way to the Sunset Grill when I thought I heard them playing. I asked someone smoking outside and he’s like yup, Promise Ring is playing here tonight. We grabbed a couple beers at the front bar, then on my way to the bathroom, I realize, I could just walk straight into the show. So, happy little accident and I end up checking out the Promise Ring, while they played this song. Alright!

Cheers,
-fre
d

Don’t Forget The Chowdah

So, last weekend I made my way up to Boston for some baseball, beer and food. All in all, I had a great time, enjoyed some really tasty beers, breweries, a couple awesome meals, got to hang out with a couple of my cousins and snuck into a Promise Ring show. Here’s a quick scoop on some of the first night of our trip, a game between the Red Sox and Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

You’re so pretty when you’re unfaithful to me
We kicked off our trip from the Upper East Side of Manhattan a little before noon on Friday. The gps told us we’d get to our hotel near Fenway a little past 3pm. That didn’t happen. It took us almost six hours to get to our hotel. Traffic was just unbelievable. I probably could have biked faster through Connecticut than we moved in the car. I-95 was pretty much a parking lot for most of the ride through. Not sure what was going on, but it took forever. To top it off, we kept seeing signs for construction ahead, but hardly saw any construction at all. It turned into an infuriating joke by the time we left the state and made it to Mass.

By the time we got to the hotel, we only had about an hour to make it to Fenway before the game. We didn’t have tickets, but after seeing a ticket vending shop with outrageous prices, we found a scalper with 3 seats on the right field line for $60 a pop. They turned out to be pretty great seats. About 10 rows back from Pesky Pole. Walking around the park and down Landsdowne road, you really get the beauty and intimacy of the park. It is tiny by baseball stadium standards. I felt like you could fit the whole thing inside the current Yankee monstrosity. It had lots and lots of personality, seats that face the outfield and not home. The bleachers were right on top of the outfield and bullpens. The dimensions seemed unreal seeing them that close. And the Green Monster, looks a lot bigger on TV. I instantly thought, wow, that thing is tiny. Despite being in the outfield, I felt incredibly close to all the action. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of the closeness you feel at Spring Training games. The PA announcements were low, letting you take in the sounds of the game. The music was really solid(mixing in Pixies, the Cure, Dropkick Murphys, the Battles, New Order and Neil Diamond, all in one day)

Being a fan of the Yankees, it was nice seeing the Blue Jays tag Josh Becket for a few runs early in the game. I assume it doesn’t happen very often, but it seemed like the Jays fans were in full effect. There were lots of them, and they were loud and making their presence known. After taking an early lead, it’s almost like the crowd gave up on the game and just took in the sights. And there were plenty of sites. There’s a great sense of community in that stadium. You could tell those fans appreciate what they have, a great stadium with a mostly winning team. They didn’t have it all on this night, but hey, they could have it worse. They could endure endless losing and be Pirates or Royals fans, or they could have a stadium like they do in Tampa or Oakland. The place was great and I was glad to finally check out a game there.

In terms of food and beer, there were a ton of option. Of course I had to have a Fenway Frank. It’s not baseball without a wiener right? As for the sudsy stuff, there were a good amount of options for craft beer drinkers. My favorite thing was the Green Monsta IPA from Wachusetts Brewery. It had a highly visible and recognizable tap handle, making it easy to spot amongst the other beers on hand. It was also pretty good, nice and hoppy, citrusy, tasty. Walking around, we found a few more crafts, though a lot of it from nearby Harpoon and Sam Adams. I did spot some cans of Narragansett too.

Just at the end of Yawkey way was Boston Beer Works. That’s where we made our way to after the game. Lots of craft on hand there, plus some tasty food. Don’t think they make their own beer, think it’s contracted out to someone else. They had a couple Hefewezen’s and Summer Ales, plus a Nut Brown and Amber we tasted. Nothing special, but good enough to wash down with a bunch of appetizers from their menu. Check it out if you’re in the area.

Listening Pile:
The Pixies – Bone Machine
The first song off one of my favorite albums of all-time and one of the most influential pieces of work from the late 80’s. It also has some of the most demented and maniacal lyrics ever. And let us not forget where the Pixies are from, good ole Boston, just like Sam Adams, Red Sox and Marky Mark.

Some thoughts on Peter Luger, Good Bar Seal and more…

You Knew It All Along
Last week I made my way over to Peter Lugers in Brooklyn. I know, I know. Having lived in New York for over ten years, how could I call myself a real New Yorker never having visited this meaty heaven. To be honest, I don’t really have a good reason. It just never happened. I have had birthday and holiday parties I’ve been invited to there, (one, even by family members!?!) I’ve been invited for work dinners. I even once had a girlfriend that was taking me for my birthday(we broke up about a week before…damn you crazy eyes). So yeah, somehow managed to never make it over.

So, last week, I finally got the chance. A couple colleagues of mine made it a point to take me and I’m really happy they did it. It was fucking awesome. Plain and simple. As soon as I walked in I was greeted by a surly old-school bartender who made the strongest Old Fashioned I’ve ever had. I mean, I know there was bitters in there, but it seemed like it was all Makers to be honest. I actually had no problem with this. I figured, if I’m eating that much meat, gotta wash it down with some manly bourbon.

We kicked off the food with the Luger’s Sizzling Bacon, Extra Thick by the Slice. Yup, literally. That’s what it’s called. It’s delicious. We made the mistake of ordering two large pieces for the four of us. Big mistake as we almost strangled each other for the last bite. Only thing going through my head was, “damn, that’s some good freakin bacon.” Next we rocked some Jumbo Shrimp cocktail. When they say jumbo, they mean jumbo. These things were the size of small lobsters. Old school horseradish style cocktail sauce added a little kick to it too.

Then, there was the steak. Big, ole juicy steak. We got the steak for four, which by my picture, you see could actually feed eight. I mean, it was like a whole freaking cow. But god damn, was that some great steak. Juicy, cooked medium rare, you know to make sure you get the best flavor. There were sides, I’m sure of it, but I honestly cannot remember what they could have possibly been. Maybe French fried potatoes and creamed spinach. I dunno, maybe. Who knows. They went down great with the steak.

All in all, it was a great meal and something I cannot believe I’ve missed out on this long in my life as a New Yorker, hell, as a meat eater. I’m sorry Pete. I really am sorry it took so long to get acquainted with you. I’ll be back soon.

A Deal Worth Making
So, a couple weeks ago I came across this Thrillist deal, Good Beer Seal Passport, which let me have either a flight or 16oz beer at any of the 23 participating Good Beer Seal locations. I was a little skeptical at first, sounded like too good of a deal. I gotta tell you though, it’s one hell of a deal.

There’s really no catch. I got the passport for $30 and have used it 7 times already. If I’d gone to any of these bars and bought one pint at regular price ($5-7), I would have already paid twice what I paid for the passport. Each one of the bars had been great about the deal too, sometimes they only let you have certain beers or don’t do flights. So long as you tip nicely, no one seems to mind giving you the deal.

Job well done by the Good Beer Seal Folks, especially considering the partner was Thrillist, who can make certain experiences less than desirable. We hit up a few of the bars with our friends over at Beer Union who are actually trying to make it to every single one of the Good Seal Bars during the month of July. We made it to about 6 or 7 with them and had a blast doing it.

Listening Pile: White Rabbits – Temporary
I like this song a lot. I like the band, really liked their last record in fact. Yet, for some reason, this song really resonates with me. Not entirely sure why, but could have something to do with the fact that it totally sounds like a song that could be off a criminally underrated Fireside album, Get Shot. Come on, you see it. You know what I’m talking about. Yeah, get in the groove. OH, and White Rabbits are from Brooklyn, so thought it kinda made sense for the post. Right?

First Look: Growler Station, Jin Ramen, Lin-sanity and more…

Growling
Made my way over to the Growler Station in the West Village a couple times now. It strikes me as a little odd that you can’t actually drink beer in the place unless it’s a brewery or tasting event. You are expected to fill those growlers of yours based on descriptions(which they actually do quite well, with lots of big screens and an upcoming ipad app w/ recommendations and sortable by style). You can fill your 64 or 32 ounce growlers, or pick up one of their Beasts, a 32-ounce recyclable soda bottle, with one of 20+ craft brew options. They told me the beast has all air pulled out and can stay fresh in your fridge for up to 3 months. I was skeptical, but heard from a couple friends they tried it a week later it tasted ok.

The selection was impressive, a lot of local stuff, as well as regional American and International craft beers. Bottles were a little more limited, but with a name like Growler Station, you’d come to expect them pushing the stuff on draft a bit more. There was also a fridge with some artisanal cheese, I believe I even saw some recommendations for pairings. I was a little surprised to see the prices. I don’t think I saw any 64 oz growler fill for less than $11.99 and some going for as much as $49.99. I’ve always had a problem with paying a lot for a growler, because in my opinion is just doesn’t stay fresh and true to the brewers intention. Either way, if you’re gonna get it, drink it fast. That stuff doesn’t keep well once oxygen hits it. The place had a lot of good stuff on tap and from what I’ve read, this is the first of a chain hitting other US markets.

Angelhair of Harlem
On Sunday evening, I made my way up to Harlem to try out Jin Ramen. Conveniently right off the 125th St 1 train stop, it’s a quick trip to the neighborhood. The last few years, I’ve been big on Ramen, eating at a various places across the city. I have a local place near my apartment, Naruto Ramen, that I consider my go to, but I always like to venture out to try something new. I came across this review from J.Kenji Lopez-Alt on Serious Eats and he always is on the money.

They greeted me as I walked in the door and sat me down right at the bar, where I had a front row view to the kitchen. The staff was super friendly and talked me through everything I ordered. Started off with the Nankotsu Kara Age, which is fried chicken cartilage. It was delicious, having almost a calamari type consistency to it. I then had the Shio Ramen, a combo chicken/pork broth. It was good, a little lighter than I usually get. The handmade noodles were thin, but well-cooked and seasoned, as was the pork. The egg, which is one of my favorite parts, was perfectly cooked after being soaked in soy sauce overnight.

Overall, a great new spot that I will visit again. Very friendly staff, they greet everyone as they walk in and out, which is always nice to see. The menu will continue to expand and feature more items, including gyoza, which is a personal fave. Not much in terms of beer, but they had a couple different selections of sake, plum wine and Sapporo. If you’re in the hood, check it out. Definitely worthy of a visit.

Lin-Sanity
I am checking out my first game at the renovated Garden tonight. This is first time in close to 20 years, since the Finals run of Ewing, Starks and Oak, there’s this much excitement in the Garden. I love it as a Knicks fan. I’m not sure people see this for the real story that it is. We’ve already seen one over-zealous editor at ESPN get fired for a bonehead headline. And there was the hilarious, but completely boorish sketch on SNL last weekend. As this wonderful article on Salon.com points out. The kid transcends race. I think the real story here is that of an underdog, a kid that was never given a shot, surfing on his brother’s couch, almost getting cut by his third team this year, then stepping up out of nowhere and doing the great things he did.

I think more people that don’t know a thing about basketball, can relate to this and aspire to do the same thing some day. It’s a story about perseverance in a time when this country needs it. If Jeremy Lin can do what he’s doing, why can’t anyone chase after their dreams in life. It’s a sentiment that truly does transcend race, basketball and sports. It’s a attribute of his life that touched us all. So, I say good for him. Hopefully Coach D’Antoni can figure out how to make this team put it all together and give the Bulls, Heat and Celtics a run for their money in the playoffs this year. Knicks fans could use it. Talk about some tortured fans.

Listening Pile:
Memoryhouse – The Kids Were Wrong
Memoryhouse formed some five years ago in Southern Ontario, Canada as a sort of art/music collaboration. Their new album is named after the effect when you zoom and pan out of still images to give them a sense of movement. I think that’s awesome. The song above rocks a bit more than the rest of the album, a dreamy, hazy lo-fi indie-pop album. The one thing about this album I really like are all the tiny little flourishes that ad a wonderful nuance to the songs.

Cheers,

-fred