I have been to New York a few times for brief stints, but made a resolution during my last trip back in 2011 that the next trip would be different. I told myself that next time, I’ll stay for a week, maybe in Brooklyn. Next time, I won’t be dirt poor, and I will be able to afford the things I want. Next time, I’ll book a flight, instead of an overnight bus.
Since 2011, I’ve also become a beer nerd. So while I did all the things, I also drank all the beers. This is because, here in Ontario, the government controls our beer consumption, and we do not have the selection of amazing American and world beers like they do in the states. Here are some highlights from my beercation:
This is my friend Mirvet. She generally likes white wine. We stayed at a loft in Brooklyn near Roberta’s, a pizza restaurant with an awesome selection of beer and wine. Naturally, the first meal we had when we landed was pizza, accompanied by my The Sauer Peach from Sloop Brewing Company, an awesome dry, fruity Berliner Weisse from this NY brewery (that even Mirvet liked).
Another thing we don’t have much of in Ontario is natural wine, which I got a taste of and needed more of, since it reminds me of a barrelly, sour beer (like a good Flanders Red, or bourbon barrel aged ale). My absolute favourite wines come from the Jura region of France, which make their wines like beer, with active wild yeast. Here we are at The Ten Bells in NYC.
Closeby to The Ten Bells is a beer store called New Beer Distributors. They arrange their beers by region, but of course I’m most interested in this grab-and-go Sours section. Among these beers are some Quebec superstars like Les Trois Mousquetaires and Dieu du Ciel. I was surprised to find a handful of Quebec and Ontario beers at many stores in the states. Good job, guys.
A beer store in the states absolutely plows any illusion of having a good beer selection in our LCBO or Beer Store…
One of the best beer stores/bars I’ve ever been to is Brouwerij Lane in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. They not only have an amazing selection of cans and bottles, but they have a bunch of rare kegs on tap all the time. Here I am casually drinking a 2013 Cuvée Barrique on tap, while catching the last can of Tesseract IPA from Brooklyn’s famous Grimm Artisanal Ales. Only one per customer of Grimm shipments.
This brings me to TØRST. This famous beer bar, owned by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø of Denmark’s Evil Twin Brewing, has some of the best selection of beers you will ever drink, at a reasonable price. There’s also a hidden fancy restaurant here, but I didn’t have $250 US to blow on the best meal of my life (one day). Here I had (and introduced some old friends to) an incredible selection of flavourful beers like Sarsparilla 666, Saisonhands, Lunch, Farmer’s Reserve Blackberry, Tropic Punch Ale, Lil J Dark Blueberry Ale, and Lemon Coconut Weisse Weisse Baby. The staff here were awesome. I could go on and on about TØRST and Brouwerij Lane, but I should get to the end of this…
There are many more photos to share (look at my Instagram), but let me culminate this with saying that a couple years ago, I would think about travelling to beer destinations (beerstinations?) with the dream that the beer I was going to drink there would blow any Ontario beers out of the water. I was wrong. Yes, I had some of the best beers in the world, but time and time again they would remind me of something awesome I had at Great Lakes Brewery (like Robohop, pictured in front of Brooklyn Brewery), Left Field or Bellwoods Brewery. The government’s control of our alcohol selection has led to a boom of microbreweries opening in Ontario, and we’re finally getting a selection that is (dare I say it) world class.
The only kind of beer that is lacking in Ontario is sour beer, but a bunch of amazing microbreweries have just started getting serious about sours, are introducing barrel aging programs, and are releasing some amazing flavour combinations. So far, these breweries are: Bellwoods Brewery, Amsterdam BrewHouse, Great Lakes collabs with Barhop, Burdock, Folly, Beau’s, Sawdust City, Forked River, Nickel Brook, Oast House, Stone City, Left Field, and the soon-to-open Halo.
I’m excited to see what our selection will look like two years from now.