Saturday afternoon rolled around, and the sweet smell of booze, malt and hops poured out of our pale and yellowed skin as the three of us sat cooking like fried eggs on the aluminum outfield benches of the brand new Yankee Stadium.

I choked back the occasional involuntary puke belch, my stomach churning like a laundromat washing machine. The Vice Blogger repeatedly wiped flop sweat from his brow, squinting in the piercing sunlight to catch a glimpse or two of the game when his jackhammer of a headache would allow. And my brother-in-law spent nearly two full innings on a zombie-like expedition to find a cold bottle of water…anything to relieve the dehydration-induced misery we were all feeling after a hard day and night of serious craft beer appreciation.

This was no place or time to drink good craft beer. It was the furthest thing from our minds. This wasn’t even a place for a bit of macro hair of the dog. No, we were detoxing, and hard.

A chorus of cat calls erupted from around us, depending on the flow of the game. Nomar Garciaparra stood in the batter’s box, five years out of a Red Sox uniform yet still drawing the heated ire of diehard Yankees fans surrounding us. Compared to the Metrodome, where the worst thing you may hear coming from the mouths of Twins fans was some type of Lutheranized insult (“I tell ya, what an ooooverpaid jerk he is”), these Bleacher Creatures weren’t messing around. I was amazed at their continued need to have a one-way, lengthy conversation with players that clearly couldn’t hear them, and if they could, wouldn’t care. 

DSC02578“Sid dawn ya fuckin’ bum! Oh yeah? Well why don’t youse suck on deez!”

“Whaddya think dis is? Triple A ball?!! Do your fuckin’ job you freagin’ pile of…”

And this from the old women and children.

The Oakland A’s were easily handling the Yankees, so we cut our torture short in the seventh and caught a cab out of the Bronx and over to Harlem, home of Dinosaur BBQ. Most people that know me also know how much I love good BBQ. I used to work at a BBQ joint for several years in college, have been learning to use a smoker this summer, and am always the guy who loves taking over a grill, even when it isn’t my house or party. Now, one normally doesn’t think “New York City…good BBQ”, but after seeing this place on some Food Network television show a couple years ago, I made a mental note to visit the establishment the next time I was in town. I was excited to check it out.

DSC02586For those familiar, Dinosaur is somewhat reminiscent to Famous Dave’s, Minnesota’s answer to pulled pork and smoked brisket, minus the faux antique wall ornaments and servers in goofy pit crew uniforms. The greatest feature, of course, was the impressive draught list at the bar, something most BBQ juke joints fall down on. Allagash, Troegs, Stone, Dogfish Head, Brooklyn Brewery, and Ommegang, just to name a few.

I perused my options, and quickly settled on a Smuttynose IPA, a small brewery out of New Hampshire named after a small island off the state’s coast. The brewery distributes as far west as Wisconsin, yet I’ve never seen it on my various road trips out to Hudson. The IPA poured with a great building head filled with pine and intense citrus hop aromas. I could already tell this was going to be a winner. The taste was extremely unique, about as bitter of an IPA as I’ve ever had. The interesting part was how the hop bite slowly strengthened, similar to the growing heat of a habanero pepper, dancing off the taste buds long after the beer had gone down. I was very impressed, an A- kind of beer.  

DSC02582The beer also went very well with the heaping plate of both regular and garlic chipotle pepper sauce hot wings we ordered as an appetizer. These weren’t your average, puny wings…they were nearly full-size wings (and legs) with a quarter pound of good meat hanging off each of them. And the sauces they were smothered in were nothing short of amazing. Embarrassingly, we ate so many of the wings that by the time we got to the bottom of the plate, all three of us were stuffed to the gills, with no room left for a main course. So having been to Dinosaur, I still have not tried any of their other more popular regular offerings. Next time. 

After a much needed afternoon nap to digest the BBQ and sleep off the last bit of hangover, we saddled up and made our way down to Greenwich Village and The Blind Tiger Ale House, one of NYC’s finest craft beer bars. Compared to Rattle n’ Hum and The Ginger Man, which were both relatively spacious by New York standards, The Blind Tiger specializes in cozy. The place was wall-to-wall craft beer lovers when we walked in, with only one empty seat available at the bar. We quickly grabbed it, and within a few minutes the folks around us took off, making room for our small group.

Blind Tiger’s draught and bottle list was fantastic. Nearly three dozen different taps, and tons of vintage stuff like Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout 2007 (on draught!), several J.W. Lees Harvest Ales from years gone by, Thomas Hardy 2004, Scaldis Noel 2007, and many others. They also serve up a handful of ever-changing casks, which if you sit there even for a modest length of time will change before your very eyes…everyone in the bar pauses when the bartender climbs up the step stool to erase the old offering from the chalk board and etch in the new one, like gamblers watching an oddsmaker at the sports book in Vegas. And as if fantastic beer weren’t enough, the bar also partners with a fine cheese shop down Bleecker Street to offer a number of pairings, something we didn’t get to try this trip but something I’ll definitely make a point to do next time around. 

We started in with Aventinus Doppelbock on draught, something I’ve had before in the bottle, and was as equally impressed by its presentation from the tap. It’s about the smoothest, easiest 8% ABV wheat beer you’ll find anywhere. We also tried River Horse Hop-a-Lot-Amus Double IPA, one of the cask offerings available. A nice beer, expectedly ultra-hopped, and unique in the sense that it was a “real ale”, unfiltered and unpasteurized, which lent its own set of taste, aromatic, and mouthfeel nuances.

The crescendo of the evening was popping a bottle of Brooklyn Black Ops, which in addition to being a bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout adventure in a bottle, may be one of the most difficult beer bottles in the history of beer geekdom to photograph. Not as much of the bourbon notes as I expected with this, which differed in opinion slightly from my drinking cohorts, but I did get a nice nose of chocolate, coffee and a tiny bit of banana. They apparently use champagne yeast to bottle condition, but it didn’t emit the kind of frothing head you might imagine. Taste was that of roasted malts, espresso coffee, and a bit of vanilla from the bourbon barrel. Mouthfeel a little thin compared to others in its category, but overall a very fine beer, likely an A-. And a very nice way to end what was a great trip to a city that should certainly be counted as one of the great beer destinations in the country, if you know where to look of course.