Category Archives: beer reviews

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( 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.



turning dust into diamonds

Tampa was everything I wanted it to be. It was sunny, warm and incredibly eventful. We were a bit delayed getting out of NYC with the snow storm. There’s nothing like waiting for hours on a tarmac, only to have the plane de-iced and taking off a few hours late. We made it though. image-3
It’s where you’re going
Now on to the good stuff, the food, sun, baseball and beer. We arrived in Tampa about 1pm and after checking in at our hotel, it was only natural to head over to Cigar City and have a few beers, scope out the scene for the next day and most importantly, pick up some tokens for the beer lines. It was a fantastic afternoon, we grabbed a few flights of beer, trying just about everything on tap. The obvious favorites were the old standards, Jai Alai and Maduro Brown, as well as the Cubano imperial sweet stout, the Josh Brengle double IPA and the exceptional Dos Costas Oeste, a farmhouse ale aged on grapefruit wood.

From there, it was all about soaking in some sun and making friends. We made friends from the brewery, that hooked us up with some brews. We also made friends with some great folks we spent time with the next day. On the advice of some our new friends, we made our way down to Ybor City to grab dinner at Columbia, the oldest restaurant in Tampa. Really cool, really old school, down to the classic turn of the century architecture, design and staff. It was a treat. We sampled a bunch of tapas style appetizers and got the paella to share for dinner. It was good. We had to roll ourselves out the door.

We strolled around Ybor City for a bit, scoping out all the cool little cigar shops, bars and restaurants. We made stops at two places, Ybor City Wine Bar, a cute spot with a knowledgeable staff, that also had great craft beer in bottles and King Corona, a cigar shop with great beers on tap. Both spots were unexpected but a hell of a treat and a good way to close out the evening. We decided to turn in early to prepare us for the marathon that would be Hunahpu Day and the Yankees game.

Like I know what’s coming
Upon waking up, we grabbed some quick snacks and coffee and started making our way to Cigar City. We met a great guy from Chicago on the ride down. He would share some beers with us later in the day. Upon arriving, we found ourselves on a massive line, that somehow moved pretty quickly. Took about 35 minutes from the time we got online at 8:15 am, until we were in the festival area. They started pouring beers at 9am, but we were sharing with people we met online already. Thank goodness for coffee cups.

If you get to Hunahpu Day early, you know you will spend a good amount of time online and that’s exactly what we did. Basically jumping on the beers lines as soon as we walked in. We sampled a few homebrews and some bottles I had while we waited. Our first spot got us a good amount of beers, two per person. We sampled the fresh Hunahpu, Three Floyds Czech Booty Camp Pils, Intuition Ale Works I-10 IPA and the wholly unexpected, but awesome mead B. Nektar Zombie Killer Cherry Cyser. Oddly, maybe it was the best thing I would try all day. We had lot of other beers from Founders, Three Floyds Zombie Dust and Michiana Power Pale Ale, Bruery Autumn Maple, Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout, Terrapin Moo Hoo and more. All amazing beers.
I follow you, like a stray
We quickly grabbed some food and water and started sobering up so we could head to the Yankee game. Steinbrenner Field is about a 20 minute walk down the highway from Cigar City. So, we made our way over and sadly missed the first two innings and Derek Jeter’s first appearance of the season. No worries. We made it in time to see the highlight of the day, Mariano Rivera’s first spring appearance. This was also the day he announced this would be his last year, with retirement coming at season’s end. The applause while Metallica’s Enter Sandman played was rousing. It was as if it were an October game. The fans truly showed Mo that they were going to miss him. It was beautiful. The Yanks went down to the Braves that day, but seeing Mo was the highlight. The thing I love about Spring Training is the access you get to the players. You are so close to the action, to the players. I was maybe 20 feet away from Mo while he was warming up to go in. That was awesome and maybe the highlight of a day with many.

Listening Pile: Shout Out Louds – W.I.Y.F. (Dust into Diamonds)
Love this band. I have since their debut, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff. They’ve consistently put out great albums, but this one is maybe the best since their debut. This song in particular is just beautiful. Give it a listen, it’s a gem of dreamy, indie pop with Adam Olenius’ Smithesque vocals.


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.

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.

it’s eating me up

The Will Is Strong
A good burger is always hard to find. Kenji over at Serious Eats was just talking about the Double Double at McD’s. Personally, I’m all for the cheap burgers from places like Shake Shack, Corner Bistro,or hell even Five Guys if the mood calls for it. To be honest, I really hate when they try to jazz it up with fancy, schmancy toppings or cuts of meat. I get it, people want to make it gourmet. But really, should burgers be gourmet or should they be tasty, simple and above all, cheap? Though if you are in Williamsburg, get the Dumont Burger. You decide. I’ll stick with my cheap pattie and use the extra bills to get a cold beer.

I’ve Made My Bed
Strange I haven’t commented on this yet since we’re full force into the holiday season. With that, it brings that whole period of time where we switch over from drinking harvest, pumpkins and fall seasonals to Winter, spiced and holiday seasonal ales. A few favorites that I think everyone should be drinking are the Sierra Nevada Celebration, an awesome and very drinkable dry hopped ale. The Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, always one of my favorites. Deliciously chocolate and malty in flavor. I did a whole tasting last year, so check out my thoughts from that.

Listening Pile: Atoms For Peace – Default
You all know I’m a super duper huge Thom Yorke fan. I love his solo album, The Eraser. I was really lucky and working for the label that would eventually put it out and got to listen to it in its infant stages. At the time I didn’t even know it was his solo album. I thought it was the new Radiohead the first listen through. Fast forward a few years and he put together a band to play those songs and that side-project eventually started creating new jams. The group, comprised of Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich, Chili Peppers Flea, drummer Joey Waronker, and percussionist Mauro Refosco, recorded the album following their tour in 2010.

Recently, the group, now dubbed Atoms For Peace, have begun to let out the details surrounding their debut studio album. Said album, Amok a highly anticipated nine-track effort is set for February 26th release through XL Recordings. The tracklist includes the previously revealed “Default”, included below. The album artwork was designed by longtime Radiohead collaborator Stanley Donwood, and recalls the fantastic artwork for he did for The Eraser.


it doesn’t hurt to try

Keeping It Cool
We had a fun time at the NYC Craft Beer Festival’s Winter Edition on Saturday evening. Lots of good beers and food had. Some of my favorites included the always awesome Firestone Wookey Jack, Founder Breakfast Stout as well as some impressive beers in the Connoisseurs lounge, like the Bruery’s Autumn Maple, Brooklyn Black Ops, Founders Bolt Cutter and Ommegang Duvel Rustica, though there were many, many more that were excellent. Those are the ones that come back to my fuzzy memory.

One of the best parts of the festival was the seminars that featured food and cheese pairings. The cheese pairing led by a delightful guy from Murray’s Cheese shop was one of the highlights. One of the best things he said is that it’s really up to you and your tastes to pair up something that goes well together. The food pairing seminar with Chef Stephen Durley and Hayley Jensen from Taproom #307 was great too. They had this awesome bacon brownie with imperial stout spicy chocolate frosting, that was fantastic.

All in all, a fun evening with some great beers and tasty treats. Looking forward to the next festival in the Spring.

Listening Pile: Quicksand – Shovel/Landmine Spring
Someone pointed me to this video this morning. I was at this concert and if you look hard enough, you’ll see a certain thirsty reveler enjoying himself at this concert. It was a fun time and I’m really excited to see one of my favorite bands again, as they play twice more in NYC next month. Cannot wait. Enjoy the songs!

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!


You can be the bun. I can be the burger.

She was raised out in Brooklyn
Made my way over to the Mile End in Noho a couple times since its opening two weeks ago. This is the sister location to the one in Boreum Hill. It’s best known for its amazing bagels(flown in from Montreal, proper), poutine and roast beef sandwiches. I’d never been to the location in Brooklyn, because, well it’s in Brooklyn and we all know my disposition for going to Brooklyn. Since this location opened, I’ve been, twice. It’s that freaking good. Twice. I even brought my workmates with me the second time. They all loved it too.

I got the smoked meat deluxe package, which came with a sandwich, fries, coleslaw and a pickle. And not just any pickle, but quite possibly one of the best pickles I’ve ever had. Sandwich was just ready to explode it had so much meat in it. Tasty, juicy and just perfectly seasoned. Just enough bread, with the right amount of spicy mustard dabbed on. Fries were delicious and just crisped to the right spot. Even the coleslaw, which I usually hate, was delicious. It was a little pricey, about $18, but totally hit the spot. I know, I know, purest will say that there are places that are better. But to be honest, I lived a block away from Katz’s for 6 years and never, ever wanted to go in there. Not once. Those sandwiches which are so big you can’t eat it all in one sitting, not for me.

This was impressive and just the perfect amount of food and seriously tasty to boot. Overall, a great new spot that I will visit again and again, especially to try the Grandpa sandwich and the poutine. Incredibly friendly staff, they even gave me some meat scraps for Lulu(yeah, that’s a plus). Nice looking location, but no seats, which I thought was a little weird. The menu is expansive and has lots and lots to try. If you’re in the hood, check it out. Definitely worthy of a visit or two, or even three.

Make me an offer that I can’t refuse
Last week, I hit up the new St. Marks spot, Proletariat. It’s pretty cool that it’s located at the back of a cupcake shop. It had been billed as a place with rare, new and notable beers. It didn’t disappoint. They had 12 beers on tap, 30+ in bottles, and a couple of beer cocktails, Edward Forty Hands and Brooklyn Squall. I tried both and they were fantastic. One made with Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout. I had a couple different beers, most notably the Mikkeller Room 603, Carton’s amazing Boat Beer, which I could drink all day long. Also was able to try a fantastic brown ale from White Birch, the Tavern Ale and the Hofstetten Kubelbier.

It’s a great spot. Tiny and cozy, with only 10 seats total. The beer board is this awesome copper board with magnetic letters spelling out the draft list. The night I was there, it was packed to the gills with probably about 25 people in the cramped beer little heaven. But it was worth it, great beers, great cocktails and hey, if you get hungry, head up to the front and grab some cupcakes. The only warning, for those shoddy people that don’t drink beer, this establishment, only serves beer and the beer cocktails. If your company needs a cocktail, take them to Death and Company, the owners other location, which makes sick cocktails and is quite possibly one of the best date spots in all of this lovely city. Our buddy Chris does a much better write up at his site, BrewYork, NY. So just read that to get the full scoop.

Listening Pile:
Body Language – Sandwiches.
I mean, come on, does this one need an explanation. It’s a hot dance jam, by a fantastic up and coming Brooklyn band. It’s also about doing it, but you know, they used sandwich metaphors and all. Sneaky.

This Week’s Links, Plus First Impressions: Birreria

A Night of Stars
Finally made my way over to Birreria at Eataly a few weeks back. Should have mentioned it or written a post about it, but alas, time slipped away. I was thoroughly pleased with the experience. The food was good. I enjoyed a fantastic pork shoulder with a side of potatoes, a yummy simple arugula salad and some fried shitake mushrooms. I had one of the house beers, the Wanda, a casked chestnut mild ale. Followed it up with a Del Borgo Reale Anniversary, a delicious and crisp, Italian IPA. Good stuff! Cool atmosphere, staring at the stars through the closed roof. I went in the middle of winter, but I bet it’d be a great place to sit around and sip on beer with a cheese plate on a warm Spring night. Check it out if you can. Lots of beers, a couple housed ones on cask, lots on tap and bottles, plus tons of wine and lots of Italian, but German inspired fare.

My Future Looks Bright
With Spring Training just about ten days away, it’s great to see that the Yanks have a couple prospects on all the top lists. This one from ESPN has ManBan pretty high. There were all those comps to Johan Santana last year in Spring Training. Pretty awesome to see kids lower in the minors make the list as well, that bodes well for the short and long term of the team. Hopefully guys like ManBan and Dellin Betances contribute this year or next, then those other kids come help out a few years down the line, when some of our aging veterans need to be put out to pasture. Though, everything I’ve read and seen about Dellin Betances, makes me start to think of Daniel Cabrera. Truly one of the most frustrating pitchers to watch in recent memory. He’re hoping he’s more AJ Burnett(the good years) rather than Cabrera.

Pliny The Sixer
Picked up a four pack of the newly release Sixpoint Resin yesterday, Resin has been labeled as a “double IPA,” but you know how those crazy cats at Sixpoint’s operate. Nothering ever fits neatly into a particular style.  From what I’ve heard it’s a hop-bomb with a sweet citrusy taste. Makes sense, from the description, it’s supposed to have double the hops of normal DIPA’s, with resin secreted from the glands of the hop cone. Resin will also have the distinction of being the first craft beer available in a 12-ounce “redbull” type can and will be available for a limited time, if you can find it. Don’t fear, two more canned arrivals coming soon, The Harbinger, a canned Saison and Apollo, a summer wheat.

Half Full
The British government seems to think Britain’s binge-drinking problem could be as simple as mandating laws to water down alcoholic drinks. Sounds like a horrible idea. Seems like a problem as old as time. Ask the US how that whole Prohibition thing panned out. Leave it alone and tax more, that’s what they’ll probably do anyhows.

Listening Pile:
Twilight Sad – Another Bed
Great new video from a song on their stellar new album, No One Can Ever Know. While the video is disturbing in that, “wait a second, those are pretty good looking corpses” kinda way, the song is pretty awesome and the video is very well executed. Also, keep in mind, he has a wedding ring on. So, next time you make small chit chat with that hipster video clerk you think is kinda cute, just remember this video. But, I digress. The song is awesome, the record is as well. They play Bowery Ballroom at the end of the month. I’ll be there, sad at the fact that the  best beer I’ll be able to get will be a Sierra Nevada.

First Impressions: Top Hops

Merchants and Advocates of Great Beer

Wanted to put out some quick thoughts on Top Hops, the new beer bar/store in the LES. It’s obvious once you walk into the place that they are still ironing out their set up and look of the store. There’s a lot of open, unused space in the front, bare walls and some empty space in the fridges. They were also still adding beers into their system while I was there.  The bar is set up on one side and features a huge amount of taps, I counted what seemed like 2 dozen, including stuff from NY State breweries like Ommegang, Captain Lawrence, Defiant and Greenport Harbor. There was also some stuff from Bear Republic, Stone and Stillwater on tap during my visit.  The strange thing was, they also had Budweiser on tap. The bartender even mentioned people coming in and getting growlers of it. That seemed odd to me, but hey, whatever floats your boat, right?

You walk into the back and that’s where all the beer is stored, cold. There was no beer at room temperature, which seemed very odd to me. I couldn’t quite tell what the order was either, but they had a small amount of imports, mostly seemed like Belgian, Danish and British from what I saw. I’ve seen in places, they are looking to have over 800 types of beer, with a mix of imports and domestic craft and a few macro beers.  Seems like you can buy a beer in-store and drink it, while paying a cappage fee. They also do growler fills, both 32 and 64 ounce sizes from what they told me.

They mentioned to me to not mind the look of the place. They still don’t know what they are doing with the extra space. However, they did mention doing brewery nights, food pairing sessions and other beer enthusiast type events.  Seems like they are off to a good start. I believe they said they stay open til midnight on Friday and Saturdays, 11 the other days of the week.  So if you’re in the hood trying out one of the many great restaurants or seeing a gig at the Bowery Ballroom, it’s a great spot to stop by and pick up something for the rest of your night or sample something on hand.

Listening Pile:

Spoon – Merchant of Soul

Great song from a great band. Tops Hops motto is merchants and advocates of great beer, which is sprawled across everything in the place. Made me think of this song for some reason.