Friday, March 15, 2013
Beer Authority (New York, NY)
Taking the A train from JFK to Manhattan for G's birthday weekend, we emerged from the Port Authority station directly across the street from Beer Authority. After a long flight, it was a great way to start our weekend.
On a Thursday night, there was a DJ playing music a bit loud but we survived sitting around the edge. Our waiter was friendly and efficient, bringing beer and the daily special in short order: a vegetarian shepherd's pie. Dinner was great with a lentil based that tasted a lot like our favorite camping dish but with a thick, creamy head of mashed potatoes. We just wonder why this sort of meal isn't readily available in Minnesota.
Believing in drinking local, I started by trying a couple of brews from Spider Bite. Eye Be Use, a Double IPA, was disappointingly unrefined but I still followed up with Boris the Spider, a Russian Imperial Stout. Slightly better but the blunted hops couldn't come through the unbalance RIS. Nice experiment but I'm not a fan. I accidentally spilled the last of this beer on my blue jeans; generously, our server brought me a short pour to replace my clumsiness.
During research, I came across the new Bronx Brewery and happily got a chance to try their Black Pale Ale. No Sublimely Self Righteous, but this American black ale has a solid malty base and a clean dark bite that makes is a good choice. We ended with a draft of Dogfish Head Noble Rot, an earthy and interesting saison that we returned to on Sunday.
We tried to repeat our first stop on Saturday night after seeing Tom Hanks in Lucky Guy. An extremely poignant play based on the life Mike McAlary, a 1980s tabloid columnist in New York. Not only did we intimately learn about a part of NYC history and culture, but the gritty, authentic underbelly of the newspaper business written by late Nora Ephron. Unfortunately, we weren't able to discuss any of this at Beer Authority. The band joked about playing too loud and continued to shake the rafters. We put in ear plugs while I drank a beer and finally starting texting each other out of desperation, leaving disappointed and had to talk over the play while kicking our way through the late night crowds of Times Square.
On Sunday afternoon, we needed to head back to the hotel to pick up our bags after a visit to the 9/11 memorial. I wanted to give Beer Authority a chance in the daylight and to give the mac & cheese a try.
Happily, this visit was pleasant. I started with a Green Flash West Coast IPA, a favorite hoppy treat when I get the chance. By the time we ordered the mac & cheese, I was on to Ommegang Barrier Relief, a Belgian IPA that's a collaboration ale with Barrier Brewing to rebuild that Sandy ravaged brewery. A beautifully blended IPA with a Belgian funk was a solid choice for a last beer in NYC. The beer paired surprisingly well with the mushroom and garlic Mac & Cheese, unusual and intriguing, I would gladly order it as a meal again.
On the way out, we ran into an intrepid band of beer hunters, one also a blogger at Hoptical Allusions. Need to leave for the train to fly home, we didn't have to time for more than a pic and a cheers on the way out. Each had a tray of four tasters—sixteen on the table. After two trying visits, a third with a chance encounter with fellow beer travelers bolstered my spirits and our experience. With great beer that is well served, Beer Authority is the go-to place in the heart of Manhattan for craft beer. However, in the future, I will make this our pre-show stop to relax and unwind before hitting Broadway, saving the post-show discussion for a much quieter place.