Friday, October 28, 2011

New York Pub Crawls -- Part III -- The Ginger Man

Next it was time to visit The Ginger Man. The Ginger Man is very close by to my previous stop and had a similarly electric buzz going on. The noise level was similar but was driven more by animated conversations than any football fandom or strumming strings. No live music but many lively people.

The d├ęcor here was much different. Contrast Rattle N’ Hum’s DIY collage/homage to everything beer to The Ginger Man’s dark woods, framed beer posters and the ginger-orange glow of its bartop lamps. That’s right—bartop lamps. Very cool.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vinos Y Sabores -- Wines and Tastes of Argentina

Josh normally handles the wine writing around here but I will have to take a crack at it as well. It seems a waste to stick only to beer when you are in one of the world's great wine countries: Argentina.

Some background for you: I am living in Buenos Aires for the moment. I mentioned that I was coming here in a previous post about my New York Pub crawling activities. I flew out of NYC in order to save money on the flight and to spend the funds saved on beer. I then wrote about it and hopefully made the world a better place for it, though that is debatable.

I will be here until my significant other gets her papers to come back with me to Canada. In the meantime my goal is to explore the budding craft beer scene down here and to dip my feet into the wine side of things. I like wine. I just don't know nearly as much as Josh does, so please don't cringe if I pass up a good year of Luigi Bosca in favour of an inferiour Bodega. We all make mistakes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New York Pub Crawls -- Part II -- Rattle n' Hum

I had been to Rattle N’ Hum once before in 2009 and was eager to return as the previous visit was quite literally life-changing—but that is another story for another time. The place was packed with all sorts of folks and all sorts of drinks. A couple suits, some army guys, small groups of friends and many college football fans. The fans were split evenly between the two teams so there was always some sort of rise coming from half the room as the game played out. The live music was a nice addition to the mix of noises as well.

One thing I especially liked about the places I visited was the detailed menus and this establishment was no exception. At Rattle N’ Hum I decided to follow ‘Patrick’s picks’ -- printed daily with pointed prose on presentation and perfection and selection of beer.

Patrick (the picker) was not present. Patrick can pick from a proper patch of prize beers but I should point out that Patrick’s picks were precisely three pints. How professional! The marks of a true critic are passion and discretion not peccadilloes and precarious indecision. A critic should also not pick piddling or middling trifle.

I will proceed to prattle on the evening’s tipple:

Sweet – very vinous, pungent, reminiscent of Welch’s grape juice from childhood when I first smelled this one. The word ‘grape-y’ appears in my notes. A sour note leaves me curious about exactly how this beer was produced. I make a note to do more research.

Further research reveals that the brewery is called Strubbe and the beer shares a name with the brewery’s hometown of Ichtegems —the brewery is not named for the town as I initially assumed from the menu (it appeared at Ichtegems ‘Grand Cru’). The website lists an Ichtegem Oud Bruin as well as an Ichtegems Grand Cru. I can only assume that the Grand Cru is a more potent version of the Oud Bruin. The menu lists the beer I had at 6.5% while the website lists the Oud Bruin at 5% even. Likely, this means the Grand Cru is simply a different blend of the young and old beers that compose the Oud Bruin. Unfortunately, while the website lists a Grand Cru, it does not go into further detail. You’ll just have to trust my detective work on this one.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

New York Pub Crawls -- Part I -- Cafe D'Alsace

New York City. What a helluva town.

Sorry Canada, but I would move there in a heartbeat if there wasn’t all sorts of hassles with visas and green cards. Those border guys ask a lot of questions. I wouldn’t try going on vacation and never leaving. It might not work out so well for you. They’ll catch on pretty quick unless you can marry yourself off before they find you.

That’s not a knock on Canada, only a comment on how great New York is. Go before you die. Don't argue. Just go.

This is a city that has something for you to do no matter where you are from, what you are into or what language you speak. Needless to say, there are some seriously fun beer joints and a cast of characters to be found in New York City bars as well.

A friend recently asked me “how can you stand drinking in bars on you own”? If the answer isn't a smart-alec one like "I don't stand. I sit down" then the real answer is: "characters". In the time it takes to find the bottom of a glass (two, perhaps) you will likely find yourself already in conversation with a character. Think about it another way: if I was hostage to companionship to fulfill my craft-beer sipping needs I would be a rather insistent and bothersome person who would hound people to go drinking with me in order to fulfill my own selfish needs. I prefer to go solo when necessary and run into the characters bestowed on you by the beer gods. The New York City beer gods have been generous to me.