SEVEN LAKES STATION

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SLOATSBURG, NEW YORK

A dinky l’il hole in the wall tucked into the main thoroughfare of Sloatsburg’s Orange Turnpike, the diminutive SEVEN LAKES STATION is a fertile craft beer oasis specializes in local New York brews as well as fine Belgian ales and specialty one-offs.

Open during the summer of 2016, its casual 8-seat bar (with 14 taps, a blackboard menu and walled TV) gets squeezed in next to three windowed tables. And the friendly low-key atmosphere, diminutive size and quaint ambiance contrast the loud biker-family sportsbar expanse of nearby Rhodes North Tavern and Characters Bar.

Charming newlyweds Martijn Mollet and Jamie Lovelace make amiable hosts and there love for music and brews proves worthy. There’s even a nifty orange Dogfish Head Brewing turntable on a shelf.

By August ’17, the beer-centric couple fixed up a three-tabled backroom (with chevron-patterned wood design, geometric bear and owl plaques and blackboard tap list) as well as a fenced-in picnic area (with Edison bulb lighting, patio furniture and graveled ground).

Today’s previously untried fare included Beau’s Buenos Dias Gruit, an ancient Margarita-like herbed ale with lightly salted lime-peeled lemon juicing, and Oxbow Grizacca Saison, a dry-hopped saison with zesty lemon and orange tartness topping musty mineral grains. For dessert, I quaff long-time fave, St. Bernardus 12, a world class Belgian Abbey Ale with sweet-spiced candied fig, sugared molasses and toffee illusions.

Well-suited for the pastoral quietude of nearby Harriman State Park (a historic spot for cutting class during high school), Seven Lakes Station proves less can be more. Besides the fine draught menu, there’s a refrigerator off to the side offering magnificent Belgian bottled beers and respectable local fare. Plus, warm pretzels, cheese plates and cure meats are available for munching.

 

PIPEWORKS HEY, CAREFUL MAN, THERE’S A BEVERAGE HERE! WHITE RUSSIAN IMPERIAL MILK STOUT

On tap at Seven Lakes Station, admirable Big Lebowski-inspired White Russian knockoff abides. Old-fashioned cocktail inspired by classic cult flick retains proper coffee liqueur creaming, rum-sugared vodka swipe and syrupy sweet milkiness. Gimmicky dessert treat for sweet-toothed dudes high on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s trippy ’69 homeward retreat, “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.”

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DISTRICT 96 BEER FACTORY

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NEW CITY, NEW YORK

Just next door to Burger Loft in simple nuevo fashion sits New City’s DISTRICT 96 BEER FACTORY. Opened July ’17, but serving draughts to Burger Loft since at least January, this elegantly devised open space will be treasured by beer enthusiasts for its easygoing suds (mostly small-batched pale ales and IPA’s) and “illuminating Industrial chic” design.

The storefront-windowed pub features a beautifully vaulted skylight ceiling, plasma cut metal boarded beer listing (with radiant District 96 lettering) and sundry Edison bulb lighting. Sporting twelve white-tiled draught lines plus one nitro line and cider tap, District 96′s fifteen-seat oak bar services eight tables at the red brick left side wall and its burger-centric neighbor at the other side of the entrance.

Owner John Potenza hired New England Brewing Company’s Chase Planson as head brewer to run the daily operation. And the large lower-leveled brew tanks taking up the spacious back area will help make expansion at this site much easier.

I had consumed eight homemade draughts (listed in Beer Index) at Burger Loft over the last several months, but found four previously untried brews one rainy September ’17 evening.

First, approachable The Wit House let funky fungi-herbed Belgian yeast lightly affect floral orange-peeled lemon tanginess to its delicate white wheat base.

Sessionable Misunderestimated IPA brought bright yellow grapefruit and zesty lemon to the fore as grassy hops picked up mild piney bittering.

More stylistically robust, turbidly yellow-hazed Sexual Relations IPA allowed juicy yellow grapefruit, pineapple, mango, papaya and guava tropicalia to gain mild orange rind bittering above creamy crystal-malted sweetness.

For dessert, dry Dark Money Porter recalled an Irish Stout with its mildly creamed Bakers chocolate, burnt coffee and espresso tones upending moderate hop charred bittering (and distant black grape esters).

Serving Rockland County’s affluent Clarkstown community with a fine menu of ever-changing beers, District 96 has already got local Hudson Valley patrons hooked.

www.district96beer.com

SHIP BOTTOM BREWERY

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LONG BEACH ISLAND, NEW JERSEY

In the heart of Long Beach Island in Beach Haven’s Bay Village, SHIP BOTTOM BREWERY came into fruition during the summer of 2016. On a second floor loft overlooking the bay, this increasingly popular brewpub features a steady flow of year-round beers (lager/ hefeweizen/ IPA/ stout), seasonals and one-offs readied for crowlers-to-go or on-site imbibing.

A spacious right side brew area with small serving table holds several mid-size tanks while the left side tasting room offers  10-seat bar with several community tables, electronic wall board (with beer listing), rustic white-boarded walls, six draught lines and one cask.

During October Chowderfest ’17, I got to quaff five diverse homemade suds.

Dry German-styled Barnegat Lager brought grain-toasted pale malting to perfumed citric pleasantries, earthen fungi must, sweet toffee reminders and light vegetal tones.

Candied Blood Orange Wheat Ale let its tangy blood orange adjunct pick up tangerine, clementine and grapefruit illusions above mild wheat malting.

Seasonal Imperial Pumpkin Ale on Cask contrasted honey-sweetened pumpkin pie spicing against vegetal earthen gourd dryness.

Sharply clean The Shack IPA decorated its spicy grapefruit, orange, mango and lemon tang with resinous pine tones and musky earthiness, leaving a spritzy citrus finish upon the tongue.

Sweet chocolate countered cocoa-dried coffee sedation for Barnicle Bottom Stout, a medium-bodied dark ale with mild Blackstrap molasses sinew and dark-roasted hops saddling its brown-sugared oatmeal base.

shipbottombrewery.com

BLIND TIGER ALE HOUSE

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MANHATTAN, NEW YORK

Right on the corner of Bleecker and Jones Street in Manhattan’s West Village, BLIND TIGER ALE HOUSE has been a New York City staple since opening in 1996. A legendary downtown pub, Blind Tiger emulates Prohibition Era Speakeasy’s with its comforting Olde World ambience and roughhewn wood décor.

A rustic one-room fortress with old creaky floorboards, mid-walled brick hearth, farmhouse-styled ceiling beams and wraparound 18-seat bar, Blind Tiger’s multiple blackboards list 28 draughts plus three casks and several bottled-canned beers.

Industrial lamps light the bar while several tightly packed tables and one hanging TV take up the rest of its cozy space. A light food menu includes sandwiches, appetizers and salads to alongside well-selected craft brews, wine and cocktails.

On a hot September afternoon following the San Gennaro Fest, my wife and I grab a few stools to consume California’s Firestone Walker Helldorado Blonde Barleywine, Ireland’s Lough Gill Imperial Coconut Toasted Porter and Maine’s Allagash White (reviewed fully in Beer Index).

www.blindtigeralehouse.com

FIRESTONE WALKER HELLDORADO BLONDE BARLEYWINE

On tap at Blind Tiger, fine oak-aged 2017 blonde barleywine (with 11% ABV) retains lovely wildflower-honeyed vanilla spicing and coconut-toasted tropical fruiting. Tangy pineapple-peach-orange conflux, caramel-sweetened pale malts and boozy bourbon refrain douse vintage amber-hued dessert treat. Sugar cookie, banana liqueur, syrupy pear, butterscotch, toffee and marshmallow illusions add further luster.

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PRAIRIE BIRTHDAY BOMB! IMPERIAL STOUT – 2017

Decadent 2017 bottled version (13% ABV) relies on richly creamed chili-peppered coffee, cacao nibs and vanilla bean adjuncts to impressively heighten sweet caramel-sauced black chocolate syruping. Deep coffee roast gains molasses-sapped sugaring, mocha-bourbon mud caking, fudged brownie nuttiness and mild minty freshness while ever-present chili heat ignites its interior. The ultimate nightcap relaxer.

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