Monday, December 8, 2008

Paul, Old and Wise

Paul turned the grand old age of 30 on Sunday, and in an effort to drown his sorrows I planned a tour of eight of the best beer bars in New York over the weekend.

Yep, I really am the best wife a boy (or at least Paul the homebrewer) could ask for.

The beer odyssey, as Paul called it, was split between two nights. We hit four bars on Friday and another four on Saturday. Half were old favorites, half we knew by legend only.

So here's the itinerary and reviews, with help from Paul.

The stops on Friday:

1. Burp Castle. A small bar in the East Village specializing in Belgian beers. The bar is dedicated to the monastic tradition of beer, complete with murals of monks and beer barrels on the wall. I especially like the image of monks on a raft, drinking it up while a ship sank in the background. I also like my Lindemans Framboise-- yummy raspberry beer.

2. Blind Tiger Ale House. A bar in the West Village with a large selection of mostly American, English and Irish beers. It's a no frills type of place to enjoy a quality beer-- substance over style here (although the working fireplace is a nice touch).

3. The Ginger Man. Located not far from the Empire State Building is the largest bar (by New York standards) I'd ever been to in Manhattan. The large number of bottles and few draft selections cater to the young urban professionals. Anyone from Columbus would call it the rich man's Brothers. Paul was especially pleased to find one of his favorite beer here: Elysian's Avatar. It's brewed in Seattle, and that's the only place he'd ever drank it.

4. The Brazen Head. We ended the night in Brooklyn, at this average neighborhood bar (though not our neighborhood. Your average taps, with a higher than average number of people drinking cans of PBR. Paul calls that the beer of hipsters.

Stops on Saturday:

1. Spuyten Duyvil. We began Saturday night in Williamsburg, another of Brooklyn's hipster havens. This place is known also known for it's Belgian's, and also for being kind of hard to find. The only "sign" was the small label on the bar's mailbox. Paul says the bar was like being in an indie rocker's basement. But I guess that's high praise, because it was his favorite bar of the weekend that we had never before visited. Another plus: the gluhwein, or spiced wine that's served warm in a coffee mug.

2. Barcade. Consistently a favorite, we frequent this Williamsburg bar equally for the excellent selection of draft beers as well as for the arcade games that line the walls of the former industrial space. Paul says the bar has an amazing selection of beers from the tri-state area (meaning New York, New Jersey and Connecticut). Also an amazing selection of games: Tetris, Frogger, Marble Madness, Crystal Castle, and Outrun to name a few.

3. Heartland Brewery. We first went to this Times Square restaurant/bar/brewery on our honeymoon, and Paul fell in love (with the beer, not with me). The old standby.

4. Pacific Standard. At the stroke of midnight we celebrated Paul's birthday at this, our favorite bar not only in Brooklyn but in all of New York. We briefly considered ordering Miller High Life ("The Champagne of Beers") to celebrate the occasion, but instead opted for a couple of pints from their large selection of mostly West Coast beers. Paul says it makes him want to become a Hollywood liberal.

Sorry- no pictures of beer for the blog. You know what that looks like anyway, right? But I did snap one photo in a subway station Saturday night that proves that although Paul may be 30, he hasn't quite succumbed to old age (or maybe even adulthood!) yet.


  1. Happy Birthday Paul! Ya old fogie! ;)

    We got your Christmas card a couple days ago. Thanks! It's dressing up the pantry cabinet in our kitchen. In fact we do have a Christmas tree -- found a fake one pretty cheap (shocking) last year, so I had to get it. Just more ammunition for Joe to add to his arsenal for "why Gail is a suburban princess", haha. Really though, it's a must... brings some sense of home to this place.

  2. Sounds fun! What a great birthday present! Phil and I are going to Jamaica (we think -- we're looking at different places) for his 30th, but we're planning to go in February, after his birthday. Not sure what we're going to do for the actual big day. I think he's in denial that he's turning 30.

    I love Belgian beers, by the way. Hoegaarden is my absolutely favorite beer in the world. It's hard to find around here.

    See you soon!



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