I recently took a trip to New York City, the Big Apple, for the first time. It was a great trip to a great city. I saw a lot of sights, and here are the beer related ones.
It is nice to walk the High Line, an old elevated railway on the west side of Manhattan that has been converted into an artsy walking park. You can get off the High Line and visit the Chelsea Brewing Company on Pier 59, with nice views of the Hudson River. I tried a sampler of the beers they had on tap. It being a brewpub, some of the regular lineup was out. I tried the Checker Cab Blonde Ale (a solid and very drinkable blonde ale, my favorite of their beers), the Witcraft Belgian Ale (a yeast bomb if you like yeast bombs), the Hop Angel IPA (good hop flavor, but a little thin - a GABF bronze medal winner), the Sunset Red Ale (a malt bomb, enjoyable, lots of malted grain and sweet potato - a GABF gold medal winner), the Blueberry Wheat, and the Black Hole XXX Stout (winner of a gold and bronzes at the GABF, with good coffee flavors, and more dry than sweet, which I like in a stout). While there were some nice bits, overall their food and beer were both somewhat on the mediocre side.
If you visit the Empire State Building, you can also stop in and visit the very large Heartland Brewery. This brewpub has several locations in NYC. I tried a sampler of their main line-up which included Indian River Light, Cornhusker Lager, Harvest Wheat Beer, Red Rooster Ale, Indiana Pale Ale, Farmer John's Oatmeal Stout, Empire Premium Beer, Buffalo Bock, and Cherry Blossom IPA. The standout beers to me were the Red Rooster Ale, a real nice and drinkable malty beer, and the Indiana Pale Ale, a tasty hop forward American style pale ale. The Empire Premium was a pretty good lager, and light years better than the Indian River and Cornhusker. The staff were very friendly and we had a great time chatting with them.
Very close to the Empire State Building is Rattle n' Hum Bar, a small, dark and cozy pub-style beer bar with a really great selection of beers. It is definitely worth a visit. I tried a sampler of mostly New York beers; Kelso Pilsner, Bronx Pale Ale, Brooklyn Blast! (an imperial style IPA), and Greenport Harbor Brewing Company Black Duck Porter. There wasn't a bad filly in the bunch. I also tried a Weyerbacher Old Heathen served from a cask. My wife tried the Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA and a Troegs Nugget Nectar. Seek out the Nugget Nectar if you have never had it, or check my review on here, it is delicious.
Nestled between the Port Authority and Times Square is the New York Beer Company (we also tried to go to the New York Beer Authority, located on the Port Authority block, but it was so packed, we moved on to here). It is a quite large place with a really nice selection of beer, especially New York area beers. They have an interesting Beer Ticker, where several beers prices fluctuate based on how much they are being ordered. The prices go up or down about every 15 minutes based on their current market demand inside the bar. On Friday nights, you can try the special Friday Night Flight (for those fans of ESPN's Friday Night Fights). This is a specially priced sampler, which on the night I visited consisted of a Harpoon Rye IPA, a Greenport Harbor Spring Turning Rye Saison, a Magic Hat Elder Betty, and a Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner. I also tried the Jonas Bronck's Pelham Bay IPA (brewed in the Bronx and more of an English-style IPA) and a Southern Tier Hop Sun. I think this place is worth a visit.
My empty Friday Night Flight:
About halfway between the Empire State Building and the New York Public Library at Bryant Park/Grand Central Terminal, is The Ginger Man. This is also a pub-style bar, larger than Rattle n' Hum, but much smaller than Heartland, the New York Beer Company and the New York Beer Authority. They also have a great selection of beers. They have a proprietary beer, The Ginger Man Ale, and I am not sure who brews it. Does anyone know? It is a very ginger infused ale. I also tried the Peak Organic Brewery Summer Session pale ale, an awesome and very hop forward American pale ale. The Uinta Hop Notch IPA lived up to its name, and the Sierra Nevada Hoptimium was deeply flavored with both hops and malt. I should also mention that Templeton Rye from Carroll County, Iowa is now available at The Ginger Man.
Most of these places have tasting flights available (although they state on the menu they reserve the right to not do flights if too busy) so you can really try a lot of great beers. I can't wait to get back to NYC some time and try some more of the great beer bars that the city has to offer.
I should also mention, if you visit Katz's Deli, on the Lower East Side at Houston and Ludlow Streets, you can try their proprietary beer, Katz's Ale, contract brewed by the Brooklyn Brewery and only available at Katz's. It is a nice dark lager/brown ale that goes well with the food.