I recently made a short trip to New York City with my husband for sightseeing. Of course one of the most important sights is beer. This series of posts will focus on the different beers I was able to try while I was in the area. Part 1 will discuss a few of the single beers I ended up drinking at certain places. Part 2 will discuss a bar called The Stag’s Head where I spent a good amount of time. Part 3 will discuss Brooklyn Brewery, a huge draw because it has been around so long.
To start with I enjoyed some local beer while at the Embassy Suites near Newark Airport our first night. The hotel has a fantastic happy hour that we just barely missed with $2 pints. They have a few local beers on draft and others in bottles available. I got to try Cricket Hill Lager while I was there. It had a nice smooth hop flavor and was overall a solid lager. I didn’t find out until later that I could have gotten an IPA from the same brewery.
Later at Heartland Brewery in the Theater District of New York City, I ordered their IPA. It had a high amount of bitterness, possibly up to 70 IBU. A tropical fruit flavor came out pretty nice on the front. I was quite satisfied with this one though it did seem that the bitterness left it without much to taste. At the same brewery my husband ordered the oatmeal stout. He enjoyed the coffee and chocolate flavors and thought it was one of the better stouts he has had.
For a video review of these beers, check out this video I took while we were in Heartland Brewing.
After biking around Central Park New York City, we stopped by 3 Monkeys for a pint. They had a fairly large tap list with a number of different IPAs. I eventually settled on Single Cut Billy 18 IPA from Watt NY. It had a good pine hop flavor and tropical fruit with a mellow bitterness around 40 IBU. I enjoyed this one but it wasn’t anything particularly special.
I like to keep up with new breweries when they open. Thankfully, with Pacific Brewing they announced their grand opening on Facebook so I was able to check it out on the first day. There was a solid crowd for a new brewery and yet parking wasn’t an issue. Pacific Brewing presented a solid lineup that will serve as a good baseline as they expand into different styles of beers.
I started with a flight and added an additional taster so that I could taste all of the beers in one go. They offer a blonde, pale ale, IPA, strong ale, and rye double IPA. The blonde was a solid version of the classic style without much variation. It is up there with some of the best San Diego blondes. The pale ale is more towards the English style and has many similarities to the ESB style. The pale ale presents many caramel flavors on the front with a light hop flavor on the back end.
The IPA has a powerful citrus nose. The flavors are heavy on citrus and pine, in line with other San Diego IPAs. I would estimate this beer has around 70 IBUs so it is fairly bitter. I really enjoyed the IPA and ended up with a pint after all the tasters. The strong ale is almost 8% and yet is very drinkable. The flavors are primarily in the sweet caramel range such that it might satisfy some who are mostly fans of porters and stouts.
The double IPA is a little low on the alcohol compared to some you might see in San Diego but not short on flavor. At 8% it isn’t that much stronger in alcohol than the IPA but the rye gives it a unique flavor. The rye manages to be mellow enough that it doesn’t overpower the hops. Most of the hop flavors are more on the back end and the citrus and tropical fruit flavors mix well with the rye.
Pacific Brewing has a similar feel to other small breweries inside though the wood used for the bar sets them apart with some distinct colors. Fans of hoppy beers will find a lot to love in the IPA and the Rye Double IPA. Fans of sweeter malt beers will enjoy the pale ale and strong ale. If the strong ale isn’t enough, you can always head next door to 2 Kids for some chocolate stout. I look forward to trying the different styles of beer that Pacific Brewing comes up with in the future.
UPDATE: Pacific Brewing recently released a stout due to the large demand. I stopped by on June 1, 2014 to try the “Simmer Down Stout” and thought it was solid. The stout is a dry chocolate stout that isn’t as sweet or as thick as the stout at 2Kids. It should satisfy my husband though I haven’t yet brought him by to try it.
Outside craft beer fanatics, Lagunitas is probably more well-known than Russian River because their beers are widely distributed in Southern California. I decided to not get tasters of some of the more commonly available beers while I was there so that I could try some newer ones.
Lagunitas is also a brewpub, meaning it is open earlier in the day, and the crowds can get pretty crazy. Since we got there a little bit later and had already eaten, it wasn’t too crazy to find a spot at the bar. The outside seating area surprised me because it looks like you are visiting a ranch, complete with sandy floor and picnic tables.
I ordered a taster flight of Nelson IPA, Maximus Double IPA, SF Beer Week Double IPA, and Hop Stoopid. Of the four, Maximus and Nelson were my favorites. The Nelson IPA has all the grapefruit flavors you might expect from the Nelson hops. Some sweeter flavors recognizable from the regular IPA on the back end round it out nicely.
The Maximus Double IPA has plenty of tropical fruit flavors on the front end combined with some more earthy hop flavors on the back. The San Francisco Beer Week Double IPA is made with Nelson, Mosaic, and Hop 366. The beer had a slight soapy flavor combined with the citrus flavors from the other hops. Heavy pine flavor comes in the back from the Hop 366. I probably would have enjoyed this one a little more without the Hop 366.
I ended it with the Hop Stoopid. It was so strong that it became thick and syrupy. The flavors leaned heavily towards the tropical fruits. I recognize the style here but it isn’t for me. Lagunitas is such a big brewery that you are likely to find most of their core beers all throughout California and many other states. It was nice to finally stop in for a visit but I don’t think I’ll be back. Like Stone, I can get most of the best beers in bottles almost everywhere I look.