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Where to hold a beer-tasting dinner for 16 people?

My husband, a huge fan of American microbrews, turns 40 in a few months. I went to a wine-tasting/pairing dinner at Italian Wine Merchants a few years ago and it was fantastic. I'd like to re-create something like this, but w/craft beers for his birthday in May. Any recs on a place that could handle something like this? I'd like to find a place that could have most/all of the following:

1) Good food and wide selection of American craft beers
2) A private room for the party, that can hold approximately 16 people
3) A knowledgable beer sommelier who can do a short talk and tasting before dinner (or maybe between courses - not sure if that will kill the mood at the table)
4) In Manhattan

If you have any other thoughts or ideas on how to incorporate my husband's love of beer into a birthday party would be appreciated! I've considered having a large group of people to a beer garden in Brooklyn or Queens, but since most of the invitees have young kids (including us), we would rather stay closer to home.

TIA

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Italian Wine Merchants
108 E 16th St, New York, NY 10003

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  1. Resto might work...
    http://www.restonyc.com/beerdinners.asp

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    Resto
    111 East 29th Street, New York, NY 10016

    1 Reply
    1. re: Riverman500

      Resto would be good, but they focus on Belgian, not American brews.

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      Resto
      111 East 29th Street, New York, NY 10016

    2. Of the high end restaurants, it seems that Danny Meyer restuarants tend to be strong on the beers - I think Meyer & Colicchio might be secret beer snobs or something. Gramercy Tavern has an excellent beer selection - 50+ bottles, including a number of vintage ones. Colicchio & Sons has a similar one as well, though it's not on their website for some reason - but last month TC did a special menu there paired with beers from Brooklyn Brewery. And Eleven Madison Park has a spectacular selection, nearly 100, though the meal itself will likely be a bit pricier. I can't say, off the top of my head, how many of them are specifically American beers - but there are a number of them, for sure. And seeing as how brewers, unlike vintners, will import their raw ingredients from wherever, there isn't really a "terroir" to beer the way there is to wine, so that may not make too much of a difference. Though I'm sure that at any of the above they'd come up with a great meal and great pairings, whatever parameters you want to put aroud it.

      I find that many sommeliers are serious beer nerds as well, especially at places where that's reflected in the menu - sometimes there might even be a seperate "beerelier" on staff who'd be pretty excited to do something along those lines, since the wine guys get all the respect usually.

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      Eleven Madison Park
      11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

      Gramercy Tavern
      42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

      Colicchio & Sons
      85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

      1 Reply
      1. re: sgordon

        Thanks - these are some great ideas. I love the idea of Colicchio & Sons. I've been wanting to go there for a while. Off to start calling places.

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        Colicchio & Sons
        85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

      2. DBGB?

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        DBGB
        299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

        2 Replies
        1. re: jeff_pdx

          True. They have one private dining room - well, "semi-private" as it's in the kitchen, I think - that would be just the right size. I guess I didn't think of them at first because I find the food to be less than exciting (with a few exceptions), and a great deal of it quite overpriced - including the beer. Their beer prices are significantly higher than, say, d.b.a. a short walk away - which isn't a cheap bar to begin with.

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          d.b.a.
          41 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

          1. re: sgordon

            I'd have to check out the room at DBGB - semi-private room in the kitchen sounds noisy. This group of friends will be noisy enough w/o the noise of the kitchen.

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            DBGB
            299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

        2. I agree with these good suggestions so far, but the best beer tasting dinners I've had have been at Jimmy's No. 43. They have a back room for events, an extensive beer list, and a great menu. They have a back room space for tasting events they host, and private parties.

          And the owner, Jimmy Carbone and his staff, could not be nicer.

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          Jimmy's No. 43
          43 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

          1. Artisinal does a beer and cheese tasting class you might want to check out.

            1. I feel I need to chime in here as I had a disappointing experience at Colicchio & Son last summer. $23 for a glass of beer has soured me for life. I thought I ordered a 22oz bottle. Mea culpa but lesson learned.

              I just checked beermenus.com, my go to for who's pouring what at any given time, & the offending brew is not listed. IMO they are VERY pricey on the beers all around.

              CD
              NYC

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              Colicchio & Sons
              85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

              1. Hi Tia, What a great present. A few suggestions for you.

                Cafe D'Alcase on the Upper East Side has a student of mine Gianni who is there beer sommelier and can guide you through a great Dinner.

                DBGB on the Lower East Side (Daniel Baloud's beer centric spot) has another student of mine Hayley Jenson who is their very competent beer sommelier and would be happy to get you guys hooked up with great beer pairings for a dinner.

                I second the recommendation for Jimmy's No 43 as his beer list is always great and so is the food. Make sure you get in touch w/ Jimmy or myself before you go and we can design a menu for you.

                Colicchio & Sons is awesome and they do a lot of pairing dinners with great breweries so, I'm certain you'll have a fine fine experience there.

                Resto is also a great call for a beer dinner. Their whole cooked animal option is perfect for a group your size and they will make great selections for the beers.

                Radegast is a German style beer garden in WIlliamsburgh, Brooklyn. You won't find to much expertise for pairing there but the products are amazing and the atmosphered is real cool. If you'd like, I can take a look at their selection and put together some great pairings to plan on ordering. As a 41 year old, I appreciate the old timey drink up in a beer garden more.

                Institute of Culinary Education is a great cooking school with the largest recreational cooking division in the country. You can do a private cooking and tasting class there and I teach there regularly and can host through them. I also do regular beer tasting glasses there. They are usually 7-9pm I see groups coming to those and then going to a late dinner. For these, the summer schedule will be out soon.

                Brooklyn Brewery is my former employer and many groups go to the tours and tastings on Friday Saturday and Sunday. Seating there is first come, first served so, if you have a group you have to be there when the doors open to secure a table and then expect to need to guard your table but, as far as an innexpensive option, its killer, beers are $4, tour is free, and you can bring whatever food you want for a nice big beer picnic.

                Lastly, I'm the first Certified Cicerone beer sommelier in NYC and I run a small company called Civilization of Beer. I do a lot of pro training but also do private events. I'd be happy to explore the possibility of hosting your husband's birthday dinner. I have relationships with a number of venues that can accommodate a group your size.

                In NYC when you're looking to do something special for a party, what it usually comes down to how much you want to spend and on what day your doing the event.

                BTW: you can see some of what we teach about in Chowtips videos. Just search beer!!!

                "An educated beer seller is a better beer seller."

                Warmest Regards,
                Finest Beers,
                Deepest Thanks,

                Samuel Merritt
                President, Civilization of Beer
                Certified Cicerone Tm.
                samuel@civilizationofbeer.com
                www.civilizationofbeer.com

                I'd be happy to assist you in any way I can whether you choose to work with Civilization of Beer or not. .

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                Resto
                111 East 29th Street, New York, NY 10016

                Institute of Culinary Education
                50 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                DBGB
                299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

                Colicchio & Sons
                85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                1. What about something simple like Ginger Man? http://www.gingerman-ny.com/

                  Might not have the best food selection, but the beer is great! I would give it a 5 star rating, but it can be very busy during happy hour and service isn't the always there when you need it. I would imagine a table of 16 would get plenty of service though.

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

                  1. I'm glad I found this as I did the same thing for my fiance as an engagement gift, so just went through this process! Though, he is extremely into all good beer, craft beer, belgiums, etc. so I didn't focus as much on the craft beer. That said:

                    1. Check out wwww.beeradvocate.com and look for events in NYC. They will have a list of any and all restaurants holding existing beer tasting dinners. This might be a helpful way to start planning/thinking about this.

                    2. BeerTable (in Brooklyn) is an EXCELLENT choice and I spoke with the owner (Justin) is both an excellent chef and loves beer. He agreed to do a private beer tasting dinner for me, though I opted to go another way (see below).

                    3. Eleven Madison Park, which was also mentioned, was where we landed. There was a DogfishHead beer tasting dinner (owner, Sam Caglione, I believe?) which was a slam dunk. American craft beer, delicious food, plus it happened to be a beer with a tribute to Sammy Davis Jr., so we got to listen to great music and meet SDJ's son.

                    4. We've also been to a beer tasting dinner at Craft (owned by Tom Colicchio, owner of Colichio & Sons). Excellent. They have mostly american craft beers & excellent food.

                    5. Finally, Starfish Productions is a company that puts together events like this in NY. However, they are a little "cheesy" and not quite as authentic. That said, that's where I found the Craft tasting dinner, so its worth a shot.

                    Good luck and have fun!

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                    Eleven Madison Park
                    11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

                    1. I looked into doing this for my birthday. You might want to post on the outer boroughs board and get some info on Beer Table in Park Slope. I believe they will rent the place out (it's very small). Their beer list is amazing and food we had was great. I remember a chicken dish with some kind of wheaty grain that almost tasted hoppy like an IPA. Really fun.
                      JeremyEG
                      HomeCookLocavore.com

                      1. Park Avenue Tavern might fill the bill. It's been getting a lot of positive buzz lately.

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                        Park Avenue Tavern
                        99 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016