I kicked off with Invasive Species, a 5.7% ABV sour ale by Brooklyn outfit Greenpoint, which incorporates Motueka and Citra hops. It's a pale hazy yellow colour and smells very farmyard. The first hit on tasting it is an eye-wateringly sharp green acid effect from the Motueka and then a surprising candy-sweet middle. The Citra succeeds in turning this into 7-Up while the sourness is merely a tangy afterthought. A chalky fruit-flavoured antacid tablet flavour finishes it off. This really didn't work well for me: hoppy and sour I like, but sweet and sour is for chicken.
|L: Invasive Species. R: Elephant|
Feeling gypped by the first round I doubled down and spent a smidge over €10 for a half-US-pint of Jolly Pumpkin Saison X, a beer of just 4.5% ABV. There's a sharp bricky aroma, like good lambic, though almost tipping over into vinegar. On tasting there's an immediate gritty funk which is much more saison-like, huge juicy peach and honeydew fruit, which was a surprise, and then a classic oaky sour finish, bringing us back to lambicland. It's only barely to-style, though admittedly saison does have a pretty broad set of parameters. But it was absolutely beautiful: combining the best bits of several different kinds of beer in exquisite balance. Which, at that price, it would want to.
Something a bit more down-to-earth was called for next and we went off hunting barbecue. We settled on Mighty Quinn's, a small chain based around New York and New Jersey, its East Village branch being bright, clean, friendly and serving decent scran. There's a small but well-chosen array of draught beers and I went for the house one: Mighty Quinn's Pilsner, brewed for them by Jersey's River Horse brewery. "Surgically crisp" says my notes, so I guess I liked it. It's clean and has a clear green celery and spinach hop edge to it. In short, much more what I was hoping to find in American pils compared to the two I mentioned yesterday.
While tweeting my way round to annoy the folks back home, because that's what you do on holidays, I got a recommendation from Jon Urch to visit Swift Hibernian Lounge since we were in the neighbourhood, so we stopped in for a nightcap. It's hard to get an impression of the place since it was so dark, but it's big, service was slow and they sell corned-beef-and-cabbage tacos. Perhaps that's all you need to know. I ordered a SixPoint Dark Mild which was nitrokegged and absolutely terrible, full of cloying oversweet toffee; a Hershey bar as beer. Bleurgh. Time to call it a night.
The following afternoon we were down in the Financial District and I insisted on dropping in to The Fraunces Tavern, the New York footprint of Dublin's Porterhouse brewery and pub chain. It's a vast rambling place and has a very competent selection of local beers. I still had a Wrassler's though, and it tasted just like at home. Except the glass was smaller. M'lady went for Nirvana from Ommegang, the Belgian-owned, Belgian-themed New York brewery's first US IPA. It's still a little off-kilter, but in an interesting way, showing spicy jasmine in its aroma. Bitterness is low despite a solid 60 IBUs, and likewise the 6.5% ABV doesn't make it too heavy or warm. At the centre is a bagful of juicy jaffa, mandarin and peach, making it deliciously thirst-quenching and flavourful. Classy stuff.
Just one more pub before I bring this post to a close, but it's a biggie. The Ginger Man in mid-town is another enormous one, ostensibly on an Irish theme but with its bright windows, high ceilings and wood-panelled walls has more of a Bavarian bierhalle feel to it. Conversion would take little more than a change of furniture. We settled into wing chairs in a comfortable corner to peruse the substantial beer menu.
|L: Powder Monkey. R: Hopstate NY|
The Ommegang fan next to me chose Hopstate NY, an amber ale which arrived a dark red-gold colour. There's a sweet orange sherbet aroma but a strangely dry and wheaty main flavour with little more than a minor tang from the hops. The flavours are doing their best to lug around a stubborn heavy body, making it difficult drinking despite being only 5.6% ABV. But hey, the pub is nice so let's order something else.
And for her, Cubano Espresso by Cigar City, a 5.5% ABV brown ale with added coffee. It smells very coffeeish, with that oily fresh bean quality I always enjoy in coffee beers, alongside a convincing dark roast. There's a creamy sweetness of the sort often found in brown ales and the coffee swings in behind this leaving a lasting roasty aftertaste. This is one of those unsubtle but what-the-hell fun beers; difficult to drink with a straight face.
And that's The Ginger Man done. The Village was calling again, and that other famous New York craft beer bar. You know the one I mean.