For just over a month from mid-December I went through a bit of a craft beer drought.
Firstly, I was aboard a cruise that had a single choice of beer, Mahou from Spain. This is far from craft beer. It is a pretty standard European lager. I won’t lie, they were part of the all-inclusive package and they were always ice cold. I had a lot of them. By the pool, in the casino and with every meal (ok not breakfast).
After a week crossing the Atlantic and reaching the Caribbean I was hopeful that I might find something different. I mean I found craft beer in Cambodia, surely islands full of American tourists must have some. Well if they do I didn’t find it. Each island had their own beer that was a pretty faithful copy of Corona or Heineken. Again, it was hot, I was at the beach and they were cheap and cold. I had a few of them.
Once we docked in the Dominican Republic, I hoped again for something crafty. Once more I was out of luck. I consumed many Presidente while I was there, but I was stinging for some different styles. Luckily for me I was bound for the US.
I knew I was going to be ok when a bar at a quick airport stopover in Miami had a spectacular West Coast IPA on tap. All was right in my beer world again. I was eager to see what New York had since my last visit.
The last time I was in New York I was not quite as versed in beer as I am now, so I wasn’t actively seeking it out as much as I would now. It was also my first time there and I was in full tourist mode, so beer tasting gave way to sight-seeing. This time I had done some research beforehand and was ready for all that NYC had to offer (well as much as I could in the few days I had).
Last year when I was in Spain for my honeymoon I met a couple of guys from Other Half Brewing. I got to try a couple of their beers and really liked them. So, while in town I made it a priority to head over to Brooklyn and check out their brewery. It’s a pretty humble brewery and tap room in a bit of an industrial area, but they have some great beers. Mostly they do IPAs and they do them pretty well too. The hops are the champions here with each beer usually showcasing one in particular. They are strong beers too but they certainly don’t taste like it. Well worth a look. Get there early though, it fills up quick.
There are so many great places to get good beer. Honestly, they don’t need to be specific craft beer places. Most bars have a pretty good selection too. The places that are all about craft beer are awesome. You’ll get variety, some good recommendations and usually a good feed too.
I’ve reviewed the places I went on my Global Beer Quest page, but there are a couple of standouts. Blind Tiger was the one place I did get to 4 years ago (I enjoyed my first Black IPA there) and I was happy to see it’s still going strong. It has a huge range of draught and bottled beers and staff that are keen to make suggestions. A new place for this visit was Milk and Hops. What I love about this place is not only the range of beers, especially local NY beers, but they have an abundance of cheeses and other deli treats to try with your beers. Being a meat, cheese and beer man I was in heaven.
A quick day trip to Boston to visit a friend also yielded a sneaky brewery visit. Harpoon Brewery opened in 1987 and has become a popular US craft brewery. Uniquely it is owned by the employees of the brewery, inspiring dedication to quality. The tour was different from others I have done. Yes, we heard the history, tasted malted grain, smelt hops and heard about the process, but there were just a few more details. This made it really interesting for a beer nerd like me. We even got to taste beer before it had been filtered, side by side with it’s filtered, ready for sale counterpart. They have a great variety of beers to try and the tour, at only $5, is one of the cheapest I’ve been on.
So the US has great craft beer. I not revealing anything new there. But in New York you can get it every couple of blocks. A visit there is well worth adding to your own Global Beer Quest.