Taking Beers For Granted

Over the course of the past year, I’ve relocated from the Capital Region to New York City. This has come with many benefits; a better-paying job, for one, and the various and sundry cultural opportunities that come from being in one of the largest cities in the world (most of which I have come to ignore and/or take for granted). I’ve found, however, that this move has led to a real gap in my consumption of beer.

I find myself missing a great deal about drinking Upstate, to be honest with you. I find that there was a lot of really good beer-type things happening in the Capital Region that I was taking for granted. To wit:

  • Brewpubs. It sounds ridiculous, but I have yet to find a good brewpub that I’m enamored of in this area. In the Capital Region, there are two tremendous brewpub/restaurants that were absolute mainstays for me: Brown’s Brewing Company (on the waterfront in Troy) and the Albany Pump Station (in Albany’s Quackenbush Square). Brewpubs are a wonderful place – you’ll find a great selection of beer there, obviously, but also great food. In New York City, the best we have is Heartland Brewery, a chain of brewpubs scattered around Manhattan. These are nice enough, but these pale in comparison to the magnificence of the Capital Region’s brewpubs. Even the late, somewhat-lamented Van Dyck (in historic, downtown Schenectady) was a better brewpub than Heartland has been…
  • Beer Bars. Mahar’s, in Albany, was a favorite haunt of mine – I’ve surpassed more than 1o0 different beers consumed there, and I love the randomness and variety that Mahar’s could provide from their taplists (even with some terribly generic beers on tap). I’ve found some okay beer bars in Manhattan, but the sprawl of the island doesn’t lend itself to one or two really good beer bars.  I’d love for someone to prove me wrong, but that has yet to happen…
  • Upstate breweries. My local beer store has a really solid selection (you’ll always find something good there, I swear, and there’s a great variety of bombers and random breweries), but as far as representing New York State’s finest breweries, the store might as well be in Kansas. It’s extremely rare to find something from Southern Tier (although I recently pounced on a mixed 6 and am currently savoring my first Southern Tier IPA in a long while), and Ithaca and High Falls are absolute nonentities there. It’s a damn shame, really.

On the positive side…

  • If I go out in Manhattan, it’s a certainty that I’ll be able to consume Brooklyn products (it’s become extremely rare for me to find a bar without Brooklyn Lager on tap at a bare minimum), and the better bars around here have Sixpoint. I’m enamored of both breweries – Sixpoint has quietly become the best-kept secret for New York City drinkers. I recently partook of a pint of Sweet Action, and ohmygod, I was blown away…but sans notebook, so no review. (Related: Sixpoint’s website is graphically pleasing – a throwback to 1920s-era propaganda art – and makes me wish that they were bottling or merchandising. Perhaps someday…)
  • Captain Lawrence. Scott Vaccaro needs to begin bottling 12-ounce bottles of his magical creations, stat. Also, he could solve one of my major issues by making a Captain Lawrence brewpub of some sort. Hands down my favorite brewery. 

If I’m lucky, I’ll find myself taking these NYC specialties for granted – just like I once took drinking in the Capital Region for granted.

~ by dgdunford on January 26, 2009.

3 Responses to “Taking Beers For Granted”

  1. I’m pretty sure there aren’t any good brewpubs in New York City, which seems absolutely preposterous for a city of 8 million. Maybe Bloomberg should concentrate on that next, eh?

  2. NYC’s brewpubs leave a lot to be desired. I’m not a fan at all of the touristy atmospheres and their beers get a large MEH.

    BUT, there are a Bajillion (real word) awesome small bars with extensive craft beer selections.

    I haven’t been all over brooklyn, but some of the best are out there.

    Anyway, a good guide to finding good beer (I’m a fan of Capt Lawrence) and good bars is Beermenus.com

    Good Luck

    -Hoppy Football Day

  3. Well, I guess this is one time Boston has a leg up. I have two solid spots to get pretty much any Southern Tier brew available, as well as a variety of sweet local brews. I can’t find Ithaca, but to be honest I never had much of that, even when I lived in Syracuse, so no big loss really. I can get some Middle Ages though, and that ain’t bad. I guess its safe to say, New York is out of the running for best beer city in the nation?

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