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Top 10 Bars for Beer Snobs

http://www.observer.com/2008/food-and...

Interesting article in this week's NY Observer on beer snob bars (mostly) in Manhattan. I know most, but not all of them.

I was particularly intrigued by the sound of the food at Spotted Pig (314 W11 st), Spitzer's Corner (101 Rivington) and Jimmy's No. 43 (43 E 7th). Any other reports on these places, or comments on the beer-worthiness of the other eight?

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  1. Spitzer's Corner has a burger that is non-traditional but quite good.

    Jimmy's is good but their chef left a while back for Pegu Club, haven't been back since.

    1. D.b.a is a great spot for any variety you crave - TONS on tap and in bottles, and covers a lot of regions...also has a great back patio with Adirondack chairs! Hopefully they've put in heaters!

      3 Replies
        1. re: evfoodie

          yep, the back patio is heated, and it's a great spot to hang out. quieter, less crowded, and brighter than the bar area.

        2. I love number #9 Barcade, but in W'burg, I prefer Mugs Alehouse which I think has more rotating taps, two casks, and decent well-priced pub food. They also have an excellent bottle selection. Beer prices are slightly better in some cases as well. Number #4 Spuyten Duyvil is great, but you're definitely coming out of there a lot lighter in the wallet- though you'll be enlightened if you have chosen right.

          A sort of American craft beer version of S.D. is the nearby Lenora's Way (formally Wells & Ales). They have a short tap list and a long bottle list of American stuff. Good artisnal meats/ cheeses, olives, and even panini. No TV either. Nearby, is the Radegast Biergarten. They have a decent- non-glamorous- selection of Euro stuff on tap as well as a grilled sausage thing going on. Number #3 on the list, d.b.a, is actually opening a W'burg location soon- supposedly more upscale and food oriented. And now I read that both Brooklyn Brewery and Sixpoint are trying to brew more in the neighborhood. Williamsburg is for beer lovers like no other 'hood.

          In Manhattan, I like the newcomer Rattle N' Hum, which is in the vicinity of Ginger Man, but more down to earth. It's one to watch for beer. Not sure about the food situation. I also like Zum Schnieder for good German brews on tap. Haven't had the food, but it looks hearty. East Village Tavern and Hop Devil Grill are couple of other places I'm interested in for beer selection. Apparently, the bar at Grammercy Tavern is also supposed to have a good selection.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Silverjay

            i'd be happy to never go back to radegast, but i really like lenora's way, and i was pleasantly surprised by the brooklyn ale house. it's become a favorite of mine. no food, but two cask ales and a good tap selection plus whiskey/bourbon. a very solid, no-bullshit neighborhood bar with fair prices. also worth checking out is the diamond bar, on franklin st in greenpoint. very beer-geeky.

            1. re: Silverjay

              Hop Devil closed, unfortunately, but Copperfield's at 75th & York is owned by the same folks. Great beer selection, great wings, great salads, but hit-or-miss burgers.

              1. re: Stella_Blue

                Oh no! is that right? The Hop Devil has closed? Last time we came to NY that was my favourite bar and I was very much looking forward to visiting again in March! This articles got a few places to add to my rather long list!

              2. re: Silverjay

                rattle n' hum has some serious craft beers from all over the country. plus some cask beers. a very good place in midtown.

              3. I'm a big fan of Spuyten Duyvil out in Williamsburg. Great selection of belgian beers but the quality of specific beer recs depends who's working the bar.

                2 Replies
                1. re: a_and_w

                  Yeah, the writer was relatively hip, but failed to grok that mega serious beer geeks definitely place spuyten Duyvil at a different level. They have by far the most well-chosen, super-esoteric offerings of any place in town. As for beer recommendations, it's like music. Tips are only useful from kindred spirits. As with music, you'd do best by asking for specific tips within narrow genres (e.g. "give me something like XX only better").

                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    A great analogy and an even better ordering strategy!

                2. The food at the Spotted Pig is really terrific, and the space is great, but it is uber-trendy and popular so you always have to wait. But the bar is pretty big to wait at and serves good British pub beers that are hard to find in other places, like Old Speckled Hen.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: chowbeth

                    For those who do want to try it, I've had good luck for week day lunches - no wait.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Do they do beer pairings with the food?

                      1. re: a_and_w

                        Not that I know of, but I pretty much always drink wine rather than beer.

                    2. re: chowbeth

                      I will second the food at the spotted pig being really excelent and without doubt the beers are great to. I have left this place a little groggy a number of times after spending a little to long drinking and not enough time eating! Its a very busy place but worth wait when you have to.

                      1. re: chowbeth

                        had two very good cask beers there last weekend - a wheat and a bitter. did not have time to stay and eat, but the food looked very good. will be back.

                      2. jim imo there is only one craft beer bar. the BLIND TIGER. hands down (well ok SPUYTEN DUYVEL too, but that is super specific).

                        the problem is that BLIND TIGER is almost always annoyingly, crazy crowded.

                        best to check the website and go early on a thursday afternoon after they have had a wednesday beer event.

                        check out the nov 19th event -- it will blow your gourd. vintage kegs! case closed.

                        http://blindtigeralehouse.com/page/o9...

                        if you try to go that night....well...i warned you. but never fear as i say most of those will still be available the next day when you can try them in peace. good food too.

                        re the SPOTTED PIG. kind of the opposite situation. many of the dishes at SPOTTED PIG are pretty great, ie., the gnocchi and the burger, for example. however, their draft beers suck and they only have a few bottles. the house draft is eh (it's from brooklyn brewery so that figures). if you go you are going for the 'gastropub' food, not the beer. and just to show i am not a crowd snob, this perennially packed place has a great staff and is bustlely and fun.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: mrnyc

                          david copperfield's on 74th and york has a great, always rotating beer selection, and a fairly not annoying crowd, given the 'hood. it's also close to my house, so there

                          1. re: thew

                            Isn't Cafe d'Alsace supposed to have an amazing selection of beers, including a beer 'sommelier'? I'm not a big beer drinker, but recall reading about it.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              I wouldn't call it amazing but it does have quite a good selection of beers. Jimmy's, DBA, Zum & Gramercy Tavern are all of my favorites. One not mentioned is Grape & Grain in the East Village. It's small and cozy with one part devoted to wine and the other devoted to beer. It's the perfect place to bring someone who wants a good selection of both.

                          2. re: mrnyc

                            Second the beers biting. Not one decent lager on draft. It's a fun joint, but heart attack food. Everything is slathered in butter or lard. Not for me. Nice people watching, though, then go eat somewhere serious.

                          3. For food and beer together, Blind Tiger wins no contest. Weekend nights after 9:30 or 10 should be avoided if possible because it fills with loud B & T frat boys. The prices for food are great for the area as well.

                            I also get burgers with my beer at David Copperfield's, but that's mostly because I'm lazy and live off York. They have a happy hour on weekdays that is a good deal for Manhattan, as well as some Mon-Wed specials, I believe.

                            For beer crawl only, Jimmy's no. 43 has an interesting tap list as well as an extensive list of properly cellared beers. I've never had the food.

                            If you're into Belgians and willing to pay for a nicely crafted beer list and peace and quiet, Burp Castle is a unique option (I've never been anywhere else like it in the city or otherwise). Burp Castle and Jimmy's are also literally next door to each other, making a crawl easy.

                            I like East Village Tavern, but I haven't been there fairly recently. Good craft brews and good mac n' cheese. I definitely prefer the after work scene there (a bit more sane than many of the other options in the neighborhood) to the late night Saturday crowd (is it the same bar on Saturday???).

                            I'm not sure what you're looking for or when you plan on visiting, but that's my list.

                            1. beer table in the south slope

                              1. I second Spuyten Duyvil. Everything I've had there has been palate-changing.
                                As for Spitzers, sure the selection is great, but do you really want to hang out with all those B and Ts.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: sufunsified

                                  Spuyten Duyvil is very good. Believe it or not, the Dive Bar on Amsterdam and 96th has an excellent and informative beer selection. Just don't call the regulars, snobs.

                                2. I second dba and Blind Tiger as favorites in Manhattan, along with Ginger Man, and Zum Schneider. Burp Castle has good beers but they "shush" the room when the noise level goes up - it's funny the first time, and incredibly annoying by the 3rd or 4th.

                                  Cafe D'Alsace on the UES (89th/2nd) has a decent broad selection as well as a beer sommelier, and B Cafe on 75th between 2nd/3rd for Belgian non-lambics. Gramercy Tavern isn't bad either, but you'll pay up for it. Also try St. Andrew's in Times Square - kind of a minor league compared to, say, dba but not bad in a pinch (its the same people who run Stout near MSG). Also BXL on 43rd/6th for a small but decent list of Belgians. Dive 75 on 75th/Amsterdam has a decent selection for that hood as well (and on the cheap!).

                                  Google "Gotham Imbiber" for a good reference - the guy publishes a list of decent beer bars by neighborhood and he updates it every so often...!

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: jerico

                                    Is the B Cafe you mention the forerunner of the new B Cafe that just opened on Amsterdam in the 80s? DH and I are looking forward to trying it.

                                    1. re: LNG212

                                      Yep - I believe it is the same place - I remember them talking about a UWS opening at some point.

                                      1. re: jerico

                                        Excellent. We're looking forward to a good place for Belgians in the nabe. Thanks.

                                        1. re: LNG212

                                          I walked by B Cafe last week and it looks open. Have any brave souls given it a go or -- SIGH -- do I have to do primary research myself? Oh the hardship.... ;)

                                          1. re: cimui

                                            We haven't been yet. But we were thinking of going sometime this weekend. If you go, definitely report back. Oh the burden of reporting first! :) You cracked me up.

                                            1. re: LNG212

                                              soo.... i finally went the b cafe, tonight. i agree with uwseater that the food is just so so and service has kinks to work out, though the beer selection is pretty good (extensive with a lot of lesser known options). my dining companion and i had:

                                              * buffalo chicken skewers appetizer
                                              * some sort of roulade of ham, gruyere, endive and bechamel
                                              * beer braised beef brisket

                                              although the skewers were supposed to've been an appetizer, they actually came out to us a few moments after our entrees did. they were fairly dreadful. the chicken was juicy, but hadn't been marinaded or flavored in any way. they were supposed to've been grilled, but actually just tasted like they'd been boiled and then thrown on a grill for a few seconds. and they were topped with the same thin, comes-in-a-bucket buffalo sauce you might find at a bad pizza joint in midtown that preys on unsuspecting tourists). bad, bad, bad.

                                              my beer braised brisket was nicely flavored, but undercooked. it was still fairly tough and chewy, and the carrots that were part of the braise were not yet soft. the dish also hadn't been rewarmed enough: the center was cold.

                                              my dining companion's roulade doohicky, though, was a nice combination of flavors, the bitter endive acting as a nice foil for the rich cheese. the bechamel was a little too floury, though. the frites that came with his dish were overly greasy (they hadn't been drained at all, it didn't look like), but nicely crisp before all the oil reabsorbed.

                                              other than the appetizers after mains snafu, the wait staff also made the faux pas of rushing us into ordering, though it wasn't very close to closing time. our waitress came by just seconds after we received our menus to see what we wanted to drink and eat, though we hadn't even cracked our menus. just a few (i'd estimate about three) minutes later, she came by again and asked us whether we were ready, though we were still clearly holding the menu and reading through options. after dinner, she pushed dessert menus into our hands, though we said we didn't want dessert.

                                              it's a place i'll be frequenting again for the excellent beer selection, but i probably won't make it a point to eat there.

                                            2. re: cimui

                                              I went a week ago, and it was so so. Service still has issues to work out, glasses piled up on everyone's table, got bread after our apps, had to basically bus our own table.
                                              The food was decent, we had a few apps, and shared mussels. The apps were salmon on latke, and something else I can't recall, just that they were basically the same plate (sauces, garnish, everything) with a different protein.
                                              The mussels were okay, not overly flavorful, and not bread was brought to dip into the jus.
                                              Beer list was quite good as far as belgians go, and pours were ample, just took a while to get them to your table.
                                              I might go back in a month or two to see if they worked out the kinks, but am not too enamored with the place.
                                              You would have thought almost a year of building and getting the place ready, along with a sister restaurant already up and running, would have yielded better results.

                                              1. re: UWSEater

                                                FWIW - the one time I went to the one on the UES, the food was quite good. So, I hope they work out the kinks.

                                                1. re: UWSEater

                                                  uwseater, thanks a lot for this report! for some reason, this thread wasn't showing up on my list of "recent posts", so i never saw your reply first time around. wish i'd ordered the latkes. i don't even think i saw that on the menu, but we weren't given much time to look...

                                        2. re: jerico

                                          Just went to DBA last night and was mesmerized by the beer selection. There was a toddler, a dog, and a cat... very family friendly pub feel. Thanks!

                                          1. re: ethnicchic

                                            DBA is great but on Thur, Fri, Sat nights it's packed and I would not think of going.

                                        3. Yo Big Dog,
                                          d.b.a.'s pretty good, but I find it kinda dank and depressing, though I am excited to try their new location in Brooklyn. Blind Tiger's real nice but it gets crowded as does Ginger Man which except for weekend afternoons always seems packed with investment bankers.

                                          Jimmy's No. 43 is a great spot. Full disclosure: Carbone's a friend of mine. He's got a great list of bottled and tap beers. Even though the chef left the food is still very good and they have lots of interesting beer tastings (beer cheese and chocolate etc.). And despite what the Observer article says Richard Olney is not the chef but a deceased food writer who wrote the quote that appears on Jimmy's menu. I don't mean to rant but I can't believe the other made such an error.

                                          I'd like to know about other beer bars. The only other good one I can think of now that hasn't been mentioned in this thread is The Gate in Park Slope.

                                          Cheers,
                                          Joey Deckle

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Joey Deckle

                                            I concur with the kudos for Spuyten Duyvil but so many of their offerings are unknown to most that it can be a little intimidating. d.b.a. is great and open early enough to be a choice for teacher happy hour. Where is d.b.a. opening in Brooklyn??

                                            I am curious to read if anyone has checked out Beer Table near Park Slope.

                                            1. re: timmernyc

                                              d.b.a. is opening on North 7th Street between Berry and Wythe in Williamsburg. i think they've started hiring bartenders, which means they'll be opening relatively soon

                                              1. re: Joey Deckle

                                                d.b.a opened up saturday night - i havent heard the reviews yet.

                                              2. re: timmernyc

                                                I've been to Beer Table, its pretty good, extremely small, very basic but cute inside. Beer selection is not huge but excellent, very unique Belgiums, one sour, one golden, one triple, etc. Food is delicious. All that said, it is extremely overpriced. Honestly, with all the selection of great beer in nyc, wouldn't go back. In Brooklyn I'd rather Downtown Brewery (best selection in town, imho), Bark for delicious red beer on tap & inventive hot dogs, and Biercraft. (Btw, Beer Table is way more expensive than Biercraft.) Cheers!

                                            2. A few months ago when I was relatively new to the city I met a group for dinner at Spitzer's Corner. Their beer selection was excellent. In addition we had a variety of dishes and all of them were good (especially for the price). Great soft shell crab, a wonderful watermelon salad. A friend loved the sliders, and another the pulled pork. I agree that the crowd was young, but we had reservations and a great table, so we didn't mind. I think earlier is likely better, but think it's also a good location for a beer. In the summer the corner location means more open windows and definitely adds to the atmosphere.

                                              1. I went to barcade last year, it was cool though it quickly became infested with hipsters on an early Saturday evening. They have a good selection of video games and beer. I was very impressed that they had this delicious draught cider (Doc's Draft Hard Cider) which comes from a small winery in upstate NY that I know. I would go to Barcade more but it is pretty far away from where I live.

                                                I live near the UWS, and there are 3 places I would go if I want a good beer selection and good food. George Keeley's on 83rd and Amsterdam gets crowded and serves standard bar food which is not exceptional but certainly adequate.

                                                Dive Bar on 96th and Amsterdam, is not really a dive bar, its a pun. It has a large menu of bar food and american foods. Their beer selection is pretty good, they do pitchers of everything if interested. They also have a large scotch selection. And friday evenings from around 6- 7 they do free mussels, and you can get free wings on your birthday which is a bonus.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: AndrewOG

                                                  I agree with the above regarding the UWS. I frequent Keeley's, and the beer selection is pretty good, with a good 20 beers on tap, a cask, and a good number of bottles available, if you ask. They also do tastings for breweries (allagash, dogfish, Brooklyn, smuttynose, to name a few) just about monthly, if not more often. Their food is good, burgers are ground in house, make their own nacho chips, and standard wings.

                                                  I like both Dive bars (75 and 96th)as they have a good selection of beers, and bourbons/ whiskeys. Free wings on your B-Day is nice as well.
                                                  Also like the Dead Poet, but it's list of beers is not that extensive or broad, but they usually have a few interesting bottles, or something good rotating on tap.
                                                  Pretty much everywhere else on the UWS has standard taps and bottles, so I typically avoid them.

                                                2. many of the great places in Brooklyn have already been listed, but a few are missing. Right now, ChipShop on Atlantic Avenue is having a British Beer Festival, and have at least 12-15 taps of a variety of English Ales, Stouts, etc. Up the Street Is Waterfront Ale House, which is great and one person mentioned. Two blocks up Court Street is the Downtown Bar and Grill, which has one of the largest beer lists ever amassed....I believe around 700 beers in bottles and an array of rotating taps. Brazen Head on Atlantic Ave is great as well (no food, but you can order in, and they have bagels on Sunday, Stew with Lou on Saturday, etc). And last but not least, Bar Great Harry on Smith, which is the newest entrant....small homey place with constantly changing list of beers....the area is a beer lovers paradise!

                                                  1. Spitzer's Corner is one of my fave places. The food is great! I especially like the herb roasted chicken.

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: Little Cupcake

                                                      ANY update on bars with good beer selection?

                                                      1. re: LRS

                                                        LRS,

                                                        This thread hasn't been active since 2008. You might get a better response by posting a new thread with your question.

                                                        1. re: LRS

                                                          This is more of a question than a recommendation. Has anyone checked out the PONY Bar down on 10th Ave. and 45th? Was working a block away when they opened up 2 or 3 years back. They looked like they had an interesting list on the board, but I never had the chance to sample since they weren't open until 3 PM and I always left the area after work. The few times I wandered by in the early evening, it was filled with 20 somethings and very loud (it's a pretty tiny place). I don't even know for sure if they have a kitchen or not.

                                                          Hopefully there is someone out there that has braved the crush and noise and sampled the brews and can report on it.

                                                          1. re: punto

                                                            If you go on a weeknight it's not that crowded. I definitely wouldn't go on a saturday evening, it is insane there.

                                                            They have a really amazing selection of craft beers, and most importantly, every time they tap a keg, they change the beer selection, so the selection of beers will rotate throughout the night. The crowd can be a little rowdy, but they're all definitely friendly.

                                                            1. re: InfoMofo

                                                              ITA. Pony Bar is great w/a fantastic selection of craft beers. Yes, it can get crowded, but it is definitely worth checking out. Either go early or go late. I've been there around midnight and it wasn't too crowded. Personally, I don't love the decor (barrels for tables?) but my husband and I love the beer selection and the energy.

                                                          2. re: LRS

                                                            I don't think anyone has mentioned Valhalla on 9th and 54th. Last time I was there they had a nice selection of drafts including Bear Republic, Left Hand, Boulder, Weyerbacher, Southern Tier, Oskar Blues, Dog Fish and some typical Belgians.

                                                            Not enough of these pubs carry our local gem Captain Lawrence from Pleasantville. I just had their Golden Delicious, a golden triple aged in apple brandy barrels. It was an exceptional take on a strong ale.

                                                            For a real adventure come up to Pleasantville on a Thurs-Sat for their free tasting. Be sure to stop by the Lazy Boy in White Plains for a draft list that rivals any of the Manhattan pubs, except maybe Blind Tiger. The Lazy Boys bar food, while somewhat pedestrian, is good enough to fill you while you're sipping suds.

                                                            -----
                                                            Blind Tiger
                                                            281 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                                                            1. re: Dingod

                                                              Valhalla is also a great spot. Huge selection (bigger than Pony Bar), but more international in flavor. I think Pony Bar focuses only on American craft beers.

                                                              My one complaint about Valhalla is that it is packed w/the afterwork crowd. I find Valhalla has a sweet spot between 8-10 pm where it isn't as crowded - after most of the post-work crowd has left, but before the young 20s kids go out.

                                                              1. re: mrgdess

                                                                It's (Valhalla) actually terrific on Saturdays too -- afternoons, early in the evening. We enjoy Valhalla a lot.

                                                                Pony Bar is okay. DH likes it. Our more regular spot is George Keeley's which we love (really decent bar food as well), though it does tend to get loud late on Saturdays. And we've also enjoyed Bronx Ale House if you're doing outer boroughs as well.

                                                                -----
                                                                George Keeley
                                                                485 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                                                                Valhalla
                                                                815 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                                                            2. re: LRS

                                                              Blind Tiger, Rattle N Hum and Ginger Man have definitely had the best selection of craft brews on tap that I've found(I'm generally less interested in bottles at bars, unless they're hard to find) , though Bar Great Harry in Brooklyn was pretty good as well, and Sunswick in Astoria is the best that I've found in Queens.

                                                              Rattle n Hum does good brewery events sometimes - I went to a Cigar City event last year that was fantastic.

                                                              Barcade is a very cool bar and has a pretty solid selection but not as good as these other places.

                                                              Now, if only New York started getting Bell's beers, I'd be a happy man.

                                                              -----
                                                              Blind Tiger
                                                              281 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                                                              Ginger Man
                                                              11 E 36th St, New York, NY 10016

                                                            1. Strange choice, I'll admit, but I really like the beers at DBGB.

                                                              www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                                              -----
                                                              DBGB
                                                              299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: scotty27

                                                                A lot of the Williamburg places mentioned above in 2008 -- including DBA Brooklyn, Mugs, and Spuyten Duyvil -- are still going strong. If you combine these places with a Friday night visit to Brooklyn Brewery, you could have quite a nice pub crawl!

                                                              2. Marshal Stacks, Dba, Ginger Man, Loreley, Jimmy's 43, Burp Castle.

                                                                -----
                                                                Ginger Man
                                                                11 E 36th St, New York, NY 10016

                                                                Burp Castle
                                                                41 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003