Beer Warriors hit the Big Apple

Think of New York. Think of blueberry bagels, pizza slices, endless refills of coffee, hot pastrami on rye. Think of tasty beer. What? No! Surely not? In the States, home of Bud Lite & Coors Ice? No way!

Way! New Yorkers have now cottoned on to the fact that there’s more to beer than freezing cold bubbles. The city that never sleeps is waking up to a world of quality ale and it’s not just imported beer that they’re sampling.

Before a recent trip Stateside, myself and Mrs. Beer Warrior contacted The New York Beer Guide, an internet site devoted to pointing visitors and residents of the city towards bars which sell flavoursome draught and bottled beers. Clay Irving of The Guide suggested a hit of a drink together during our visit and that’s exactly what we did.

In Pete’s Ale House it was happy hour which meant pints were $3 instead of $4 or $5. At $1.50 to the pound, boozing isn’t cheap. On tap were at least ten beers, mostly from American micro-breweries but also some Belgian. Not just lagers either. I got stuck into a Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, superbly thick and sweet and definitely strong at 6%. Also being drunk were examples of brown ales, light bitters, barley wines and porters, all US produced. They even had Shipyard Old Thumper, a beer based on Ringwood’s recipe and using yeast from the Hampshire brewery.

Beer mat

Unlike quality watering holes over here most of the beer we tasted in New York was from kegs as opposed to being cask conditioned. Nevertheless because it wasn’t chilled to horrendously low temperatures or pumped with excessive CO2 it made very enjoyable drinking. Real ale is occasionally available, notably at d.b.a. on 1st Avenue, but this tends to be imported from the UK. Bateman’s, Young’s and Fuller’s can all be seen in the city but these are filtered and pasteurised versions of the beers we know. You can also get Newcastle Brown Ale on draught.

When the landlord of one particular bar produced a bottle of Bigfoot Ale, brewed in the Blue Ridge Mountains, each drinker around the table took it in turn to hold the unopened vessel and tell stories about the beer. At her turn Mrs. Beer Warrior commented on the pretty colours on the label. I asked whether they were the same mountains that Laurel and Hardy sang about. Neither of us did CAMRA any favours.

New York is great. You can have an exciting time 24 hours a day yet not do any of the usual tourist attractions. As with many cities the people make the place. Our trip to the Big Apple turned into one huge celebration of conversation, food and beer. If folk tell you celebrating beer in the States is impossible tell them you’ve heard otherwise! The New York City Beer Guide can be found on the Internet at Many thanks to Clay and the gang for their hospitality.

Beer Warriors in Big Apple were
Chris & Karen Constantine.

May ’96