Category Archives: BEER PUB

CURLY’S CORNER

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SUFFERN, NEW YORK

In the former Suffern Hotel across from the train station, CURLY’S CORNER truly captures the eye with its elegant antique wood columns and walnut furnishings as well as its old-fashioned lamplighters and pressed tin ceiling. Opened for business, September 2016, its rustic pre-Prohibition feel, fine Irish-dominated menu, 24 diversified draught lines and TV-walled sportsbar atmosphere will appeal to any outgoing beer enthusiast or Blue Collar brewpie (a beer groupie).

Alongside Irish Beef Stew, Bangers & Mash, Fish & Chips and Shepherds Pie were a few Italian ‘classics,’ steaks, chops and fish. As for the beers, a few previously untried West Coast IPA’s and one sour New Yorker caught my attention while my wife and I enjoyed Corned Beef & Cabbage, Onion Soup and Goat Cheese Salad (with mandarin orange and craisins) at one of the two tables at the 20-seat left side bar area across from the separate dining area.

Famous craft beers on tap included Allagash White, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale alongside New York’s finest from Ommegang, Southern Tier, Pine Island, Yonkers, Sloop and Trout Town on my early February ’17 encounter.

Each California discovery from L.A.’s Golden Road hit the spot. Highly approachable Wolf Pup brought bright pink grapefruit, zesty lemon, juicy orange and peachy pineapple to the fore above feathery hop bitterness and lightly creamed crystal malt persuasion in a refreshingly clean manner. Meanwhile, Wolf Among Weeds, an ‘enthusiastic’ 8% ABV full body, retained a bitterer, bolder, earthier profile than its ‘pup’ counterpart – placing dank floral herbage inside its tangy grapefruit, orange and pineapple tropicalia. (full reviews at Beer Index).

 

 

TAPHOUSE 15

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JEFFERSON, NEW JERSEY

Inside a meticulous maroon-hued freestanding edifice stationed at the middle of Route 15 in the northwest Jersey town of Jefferson (a few miles south of Sparta’s beer-centric Mohawk House), TAPHOUSE 15 opened for business, December ’15. Described as a “quintessential neighborhood gathering place,” its charmingly quaint ’70′s-vintage decor includes intermittent tiled walls, puke green booths and pristinely detailed stacked stone walls.

A mod American grill with a penchant for well-selected craft beer, Taphouse 15′s creative food menu features wood-fired pizza, burgers, nachos, baked crab, artichoke dip, tuna poke and thai calamari. Dining tables sidle the U-shaped bar and a separate left side room offers a beautiful gas-fueled hearth, Edison lights, leathery orange chairs and wood tables. Large screen TV’s are everywhere and provide an upscale sportsbar atmosphere.

I grab a seat at the black slate-topped 25-seat central bar and grab three diverse brews to go alongside a mid-afternoon Fig & Prosciutto Pizza. An antique automobile enthusiast sitting next to me enjoys the Schaumburg Car Show Auction while consuming white wine. I quaff lemon-dried, floral-perfumed Carton Harvest Ekuanot as well as oats-flaked, citric-spiced Terrapin All American Oat Pale Ale and lightly bourbon-aged Abita Bourbon Street Mint Julep Stout (all fully reviewed in Beer Index).

On second visit a week later on a crowded Friday afternoon before Halloween, enjoyed Happy Hour with three fascinating Southern Tier brews and delicious Thai Calamari. While Southern Tier Nitro Milk Maple Bourbon soothed the tongue with its éclair-headed creaminess and maple-molasses milk chocolate center, Rum Barrel Pumking and Cold Press Coffee Imperial Pumking subtly expanded the horizon of its original autumnal Pumking offering (all fully reviewed in Beer Index).

Posh, yet unfussy, Taphouse 15 will please beer geeks and local freaks with its fine pub food, delightful draft-bottled beer and cleanly sleek vibrancy.

taphouse15.com

 

TIFF’S GRILL & ALE HOUSE

MORRIS PLAINS, NEW JERSEY

An exquisitely convivial sportsbar, Morris Plains-based TIFF’S GRILL & ALE HOUSE brings Classical elegance to its small central Jersey bedroom community. Serving craft beers for over one year as of my October 2016 mid-afternoon sojourn, Colonial-styled TIFF’S features 24 tapped brews and fine spirits to go alongside craft burgers, gourmet sandwiches and quesidillas.

Multiple TV’s line the walls at the twin L-shaped 12-stool slate-top bars while the right side wooden dining tables recall a family-styled British pub. A well-kept red brick front deck features black metal furnishings and a private second-floor party room is also available.

Upon my initial visitation, three previously untried brews struck my fancy (fully reviewed in Beer index). First up, sessionably soft-toned summertime suds, Jersey Girl Hefeweizen, will best suit light thirsts as its lemony banana-clove essence gets watered down. Next, Evil Genius Stacy’s Mom Citra IPA brought sharp citric bittering and dry wood tones to sugar-spiced pale malting. Before departing, Clown Shoes Galactica IPA hit my mouth with a lip-smacking lemony grapefruit and orange bittering, floral hop spicing and honeyed malts. 60-ounce beer towers are available for heartier thirsts.

www.tiffsmorrisplains.com

THE SHEPHERD & THE KNUCKLEHEAD PUB – HOBOKEN

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HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY

Taking its name from owner Chris Schiavo’s Beat-inspired novel celebrating the duality in man, Haledon’s SHEPHERD & KNUCKLEHEAD began slinging suds in 1998 at the very beginning of America’s gloriously ascending craft beer movement – alongside Bogota’s highly respected Andy’s Corner Bar and Caldwell’s Cloverleaf Tavern.

During September 2016, S &  K opened its second location at Willow Avenue in Hoboken and immediately scored points with local denizens. And the dichotomy between the good shepherd and the marred knucklehead could also somehow relate to the duality of S & K’s two locations. While the original Haledon pub is a no-nonsense craft beer dive bar with an unassuming atmosphere, tight seating arrangements, small bar areas and discriminating beer geeks tucked inside suburban splendor, Hoboken’s larger sportsbar space boasts a more diversified clientele, twenty spread-out tables, an elongated 12-seat copper-topped wooden bar, an experienced mixologist and upscale urban locale.

A historic figure in Jersey’s craft beer scene, entrepreneurial sommelier Chris Schiavo gained experience working for Super Cellars and Grand Opening Liquors. After S & K gained prominence, he entrusted son, Joe, with the daily operations while hoping to expand business beyond the William Paterson University locale.

It took the Schiavo’s a few years of negotiation, but they finally obtained a centralized hotspot inside Hoboken’s central corridor on a main thoroughfare entering the Mile Square city. Besides boasting 60 taps and a steak-dominant food menu, there are 23 TV’s for beer-centric sports enthusiasts to enjoy. Industrial metal chairs and wooden table tops don the remodeled wood floor across from the brick-walled left side bar and exposed ducts crowd the high ceiling.

Upon my initial September visit, I consumed eight previously untried libations (all reviewed fully in Beer Index) while conversing with Joe Schiavo, his mixologist and a few suppertime commuters. Perhaps my favorite, enduringly fruitful strong ale, Ellicottville Pantius Droppus imperial IPA, recalled a syrupy malt-enriched Sangria-bound barleywine.

But the rest of my tastings were lighter summertime fare. Hoppy American wheat ale, Bolero Snort Bullringue, and citrus-soured Bolero Snort Kowabunga Kolsch, sported delicate lemony resilience. Approachable citric-pined IPA, Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion, led to the easygoing citric-floral serenity of Boulevard Tropical Pale Ale and the lemony passionfruit tranquility of Green Flash Passion Fruit Kicker. Soft-toned raspberry-candied Harpoon R.A.Z. and mild raw-honeyed Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest Marzen also sufficed.

“We’ve been trying to open up in Hoboken for four years,” Joe Schiavo offers as I quaff suds. “It fits our demographic the right way. The crowd that lives here appreciates quality beer, wine and cocktails. We sell American craft beer unlike anyone around here. We have 60 taps and a lot of diversity.”

Knowing Hoboken was a big sports town, S & K made sure to please the crowd. And based on the amount of beer sold during the first weekend, it was a good call.

“We kicked 20 kegs in three days. But we also concentrate on getting valued spirits, handcrafted cocktails and a Happy Hour that draws the vast train crowd. We try to make this there first stop before heading home,” Schiavo insists.

As for the spirits, veteran mixologist Craig Schiedlo started at Jersey’s Morris Tap & Grill before working at Manhattan’s established Dead Rabbit and Death & Co. The competition-proven Schiedlo uses fresh ingredients (such as kale) to create relatively strong cocktails from hand-selected liquor poured into different vessels, glassware and gadgets that heighten the ambiance.

“We’d like to eventually expand beyond Hoboken – perhaps Manhattan, Jersey City, Denver and San Francisco. Those are places that interest us,” Schiavo claims before getting busy with his staff.

www.theshepnj.com

PENNINGS FARM MARKET

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WARWICK, NEW YORK

Along the rustic winding trail thru the historic Orange County town of Warwick, New York, there are several beer-centric destinations any craft brew enthusiast should check out post-haste. Popular Main Street pub, Eddie’s Roadhouse, has a quickly rotating tapped selection that included mighty Rushing Duck Part IV Barleywine and glorious dessert treat, Mikkeller Black Imperial Stout, as well as lemony German-styled moderation, Saurez Family Palatine Pilsner (reviewed at Beer Index) on my late August ’16 Saturday sojourn.

There are also two fantastic beer shops near the hilly center of town: Craft Beer Cellar and Beverage Plus II. And just down the street one mile within walking distance to the Warwick Drive-In lies the ever-popular PENNINGS FARM MARKET, a picturesque farmhouse, garden and grill that boasts a picnic-benched outdoor theatre, beer garden, food shop, plant sanctuary and grub pub.

My wife and I take a seat at the back pub to check out a few previously untried libations. Eight well-selected beers from near and far don the menu (along with one local cider). We grab a few bohemian-styled New York State brews such as Chatham Czech’rd Past Pilsner and New Paltz Hefeweizen before heading to the drive-in to watch a comedic double feature (Bad Moms and Sausage Party).

At Pennings, this cozy Old World pub features a unique 10-seat apple grater bar, a sloped maroon ceiling, several walled beer banners and fine food fodder (from the nearby kitchen). The outdoor patio-bound picnic area boasts five more separate taps.

A few days after we visited Pennings, a few more newly designed Empire State brews hit the taps: Shroon Lakes’ Paradox Beaver Bite IPA, Newburgh East Kolsch, Chatham Extra Special Bitter, Catskill Ball Lightning Pilsner and Southern Tier Tangier 2X IPA.

Ultimately, this multifarious market deserves proper recognition as its rural location beautifully contrasts New York City’s metropolitan hustle and bustle just 40 miles south. So get away from it all and relax in the countryside, y’all!

www.penningsfarmmarket.com

 

 

TRITON CRAFT BEER & OYSTER BAR

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LONG BEACH ISLAND, NEW JERSEY

Just a few blocks from downtown Beach Haven across the street from well-established Do Me A Flavor ice cream shop, TRITON CRAFT BEER & OYSTER BAR has thrived since opening in 2014. Ably transitioning Long Beach Island (the crown jewel of the Jersey Shore) from a boring Bud-Coors-Miller refuge to a craft beer haven, Triton makes certain its customers experience the best fresh seafood, pizza and brews available.

Serving six types of oysters, middle neck clams, shrimp and lobster alongside wood-fired pizzas, Triton whets the appetite of LBI’s seafaring folks with 13 tapped brews as well as a fair selection of bottled-canned craft beer, fine wines and spirits. Four community tables and a 12-seat bar sidling the left side bar of the milky white interior bedeck the midsize interior.

My wife and I visited Triton thrice during July ’16, enjoying several previously untried draughts while consuming loads of raw clams and oysters. Happy Hour runs from 3 to 6 PM.

On tap during my few stopovers were several excellent overseas selections (such as the sterling Belgian strong pale ale, Delerium Tremens), local Northeast offerings from Pinelands, Sixpoint, Neshaminy Creek, Weyerbacher, Elk Creek, Troegs, Mystic, Southern Tier and Rivertowne, plus nationally acclaimed fare from Anderson Valley, Rogue, Ballast Point, etc.

Perhaps the best beer bar on LBI, Triton’s entrepreneurs also own nearby established eateries like The Marlin and The Ketch.

 

THE OATH CRAFT BEER SANCTUARY

TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK

Neatly reproducing prerequisite Medieval antiquity with its plank-wooded chamber door and furnishings, THE OATH CRAFT BEER SANCTUARY sits next door to historic Tarrytown Music Hall and began operations, May 2015. Owned by the same folks as Harrison-based Craftsman Ale House, The Oath boasts 20-plus taps (listed on the flatscreen menu), various limited edition (or hard-to-find) bottle-cans and fine craft spirits. Its clean white-walled interior, silver-tiled tin ceiling, lacquered wood floor, black cross insignia and mild Trappist theme provide a cool Old World feel somewhat reminiscent of Gothic architecture.

My wife, youngest son and I head to the central L-shaped bar (with 13 stools) for dinner during July ’16. Alongside the (mostly) sessionable soft-toned suds swallowed, we dug into the absolutely fascinating Oath Burger (with bacon, fried egg, waffle and maple syrup), bechamel-sauced Croque Monsieur sandwich (with gruyere cheese and toasted ham) and Roqueford Chicken. Several customers stop by for growlers to-go while the dinner crowd starts to gather in droves for 6 PM supper rush hour.

Going from lightest and most sessionable to the darkest and more complex draught offerings, I got to experience eleven previously untried brews (reviewed in Beer Index). Defiant Pearl River Pilsner, Pipeworks War Bird Saison, Nomad Long Trip Saison, Duncan’s Abbey Saison, Empire Strikes Bock and Kelso Spelter Bock were easygoing openers not too much softer or less complex than Broken Bow Old Splitfoot Belgian Golden Strong Ale, Captain Lawrence/ De Cicco’s Double Cousins Imperial IPA, Goose Island Gillian (a wine-barreled raspberry sour), Bacchus Lilith Dark Sour Ale, and the contrasting Ithaca Super Stout (with Gimme! coffee beans).

During dinnertime stopover, October ’16, tried five worthy IPA’s: one each from California, Oregon and Pennsylvania and two from home state, New York. Stone Enjoy By 10-31-16 with Tangerine may’ve bested Ninkasi Beer Run, Pizza Boy Eurotrash Belgian IPA, Barrier Rotational Series Suburb (Glacier Hop) and Alphabet City Alpha Male (reviewed fully in Beer Index).

Chomped down on two rich food items: Bechamel-sauced Croque Monsieur (grilled ham and cheese) and Mac & Cheese with Pulled Pork.

www.theoathny.com

WEST O BOTTLE SHOP & BAR

OCEAN BEACH, MARYLAND

A few miles off the Ocean City strip on Ocean Gateway lies the 7,000 square-foot WEST O BOTTLE SHOP & BAR, a fabulous craft beer, fine wine and spirits outlet with creatively designed interior wood trellises, central bar with several draught taps and left side lounge.

Selling the finest local bottled and canned beers while offering a few select draughts at the bar, West O has become a staple for local consumers and curious travelers.

On my June ’16 stopover, there were five previously untried Maryland brews on tap (reviewed in full at Beer Index). Burley Oak High Whhheat Hibiscus brought floral hibiscus and lavender adjuncts to buttery Chardonnay tones and subtle citric notions while Union Country Boy Citric Wit dried out its lemony banana-clove-coriander sweetness with sharp hop astringency. Heavy Seas/ Troegs Hoppelbock, a doppelbock collaboration, doused sweet tropical fruiting with floral-spiced hops and caramel malts.

Onward, Rubber Soul High Wheel IPA had a soft-toned approachability dangling floral pineapple-peach-orange-mango fruiting above its soft wheat spine. RAR Habanero Nectar layered peppery habanero heat inside subtle IPA tropicalia.

www.west-o.net

THE COPPER PENNY

WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

A uniquely casual Philadelphia sportsbar in the heart of Wilmington, THE COPPER PENNY is arguably the finest beer pub in the city. Up the road from the waterfront on Chestnut Street, The Copper Penny boasts multiple draught taps, sundry Philly sports paraphernalia and wooden furnishings in a cozily clustered saloon setting.

Packed to the hilt on a Saturday in June ’16, my wife and I congregate at the 30-seat L-shaped right side bar. A backside open kitchen serves sandwiches, burgers and other pub fare to go alongside a cornucopia of local and national tapped beers and assorted liquors. TV’s are scattered across the walls with framed photos, banners and historic nostalgia. Besides the Phillies, Flyers, Eagles and 76ers memorabilia, there are Sylvester Stallone’s stalwart Rocky pix and several craft beer signposts crowded together.

On my one-hour visit, I quaffed Coronado Berry the Hatchet Fruit-Infused Wheat Ale and Natty Greene’s Smoked Peach IPA, a few previously untried hybrids reviewed in full in Beer Index.

All Wilmington-bound beer enthusiasts are encouraged to give the The Copper Penny a spin.

copperpennync.com

RIVER OF BEER

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BLOOMINGDALE, NEW JERSEY

Coming into existence during the fall of 2015, Bloomingdale’s RIVER OF BEER proved to be a fabulous family affair on my initial May ’16 sojourn. Owned by Fred Soule (whose wife runs the antique shop next door) and featuring his son Dave’s fine craft beer selection (served on this rainy afternoon by Fred’s niece), this friendly neighborhood joint is only three miles from Route 287 on Hamburg Turnpike’s Main Street corrider.

Inside an antique brown Victorian house, River Of Beer’s reminiscent of an Old World Parlor with its vintage front door, custom-designed warmth and cozy pub-styled L-shape bar (with 14 seats, 4 TV’s, well-stocked bottled-canned beer refrigerator, top-shelf liquor, decorative overhead tap handles and small back kitchen). Its delightful upstairs bar matches the first floor’s homey rusticity with its beautiful recycled wood furnishings, barnstable-pitched ceiling, tongue-in-groove pine arches, front corner recliner and love seat (plus the exquisite four tabled widow’s peak).

My wife and I quaff several previously untried brews at the back deck, which is adorned by an awning-covered patio table, a leather-seated wood barrel table, red brick fire pit, porch furniture and beer-bannered wood fence.

As for today’s elixirs, I grab four reliable Jersey suds, a rye-barreled double bock and one choice Milwaukee offering (reviewed fully in Beer Index). Just up the road, Butler’s Ramstein Pale Ale brought lemony spiced hops to the fore. Meanwhile, Little Ferry’s Brix City Gloria Belgian Blonde trickled citrus spritz onto white-peppered hops and candi-sugared malts; Roselle Park’s Climax 20th Anniversary Barleywine retained a soft-toned fig-sugared cherry tang and fruity hop astringency; Atlantic Highland’s Carton Eden Saison, a simple table beer, provided jasmine-flowered grains of paradise tropicalia and herbal lemon tones. Wisconsin’s Lakefront Hop Jockey Double IPA gathered pine-needled grapefruit and mandarin orange juicing to override the crystal-sugared caramel malting.

But today’s finest brew was a specially-made Ramstein Winter Wheat Doppelbock soaked in Dad’s Hat Rye barrels. A true godsend, its smooth rye-dried frontage picked up a large rum-spiced bourbon contingent to elevate the molasses-sugared brown chocolate sweetness, cherry jubilee liqueuring and red grape tang.

Not to be outdone, River Of Beer’s entrepreneurial home brewer, Dave Soule, showed off his brewing prowess with a richly creamed doppelbock (?) full of sugared fig, stewed prune and ripe raisin overtones placed directly above dewy peat earthiness.

To quote soul legend, Al Green, Take Me To The River (Of Beer, that is)!

FLYING SAUCER DRAUGHT EMPORIUM

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ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

It’s hard to find fault with forward-thinking FLYING SAUCER DRAUGHT EMPORIUM, despite the fact such large-scale beer pub endeavors merely scratch the surface promoting local independent brewers’ true obsession crafting off-center hybrids, hard-to-find limited editions, daringly ambitious seasonals and obscure one-offs. While bigger beerpub chains such as Yard House and World Of Beer offer hundreds of great microbrew choices, there’s barely any specialty brews amongst the obvious best-selling fare. Ultimately, this standard predictability led to the future demise of Bud-Coors-Miller, three boring macrobrewers scrambling to find a cool niche while selling watered-down versions of timid mainstream recipes to vapid sycophantic dilettantes.

Originating in Fort Worth, Texas, during 1995, the mighty Flying Saucer now operates 16 locations scattered through Missouri, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and the Lone Star State as of my April Fools Day 2016 sojourn.

Taking up the entire first floor space and large outdoor deck of a red brick downtown Industrial edifice within walking distance of Busch Stadium (home to the historic St. Louis Cardinals), this vibrant craft beer mecca sports exquisite wood tone elegance, high-ceilinged exposed ducts and prominent recessed columns. The 20-stool central bar services multiple interior tables and the open-air deck. The copper-topped bar matches the acrylic penny-medallion keg taps (featuring 1oo draughts). Silver plates adorn the walls alongside cool Chimay, Petrus, Duvel and 4 Hands souvenir saucers. 100-plus bottled beers and a fine liquor selection also get scattered across an exhausting menu boasting “famous make your own pizzas” and good pub food.

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Stopping by lunchtime on a crisp springtime jaunt thru the Gateway to the West, my friend Dennis and I quaff nine previously untried libations (reviewed fully in Beer Index). From Missouri came Modern Arkham’s Finest Stout, O’Fallon King Louie Toffee Stout and Charleville Down With OGP English Porter. Illinois offered Excel Flash Bang Wheat Ale and Old Bakery Porter. Kansas brought forth Tallgrass Wooden Rooster Tripel and Tallgrass Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat Cream Stout while Colorado kicked in New Belgium Blackberry Barleywine and California tossed off Ballast Point Victory At Sea – Peppermint. This veritable cornucopia of stylistic intrigue cannot, at this time, be matched by Flying Saucer’s larger competitors.

Perfect for local businessmen, die-hard Cardinals fans and curious beer seekers, Flying Saucer seems to have all corners covered as a truly iconic large-scale American beer pub.

www.beerknurd.com/locations/st-louis-flying-saucer

 

 

 

END OF ELM

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MORRISTOWN, NEW JERSEY

In a red-bricked, white-windowed corner spot across the street from Morristown’s railway. END OF ELM has operated as a cocktail-lounged gastropub since 2013. Featuring 24-plus brass-handled tap lines while specializing in unique cocktails and upscale food, this quaint one-room tavern brings low key elegance to this mid-Jersey county seat.

On my initial February ’16 stopover, my wife and I grab a seat at the windowed front corner booth to sample four diverse brews, including Magnify Low Visibility IPA, Rodenbach Caractere Rouge, Founders Nitro Rubeaus and Stone Bitter Chocolate Stout (reviewed in Beer Index).

Creative lunch menu brought forth distinctively innovative items such as Grilled Artichoke Bruscetta (with Almond Romesco-sauced fennel), Charred Jersey Beets, Lamb Burger and sticky-riced Sashimi Tuna Pizza.

As for its exquisite architectural design, the sage green interior spotlights a 10-seat copper-topped banquet table, eight 4-seat tables and a few side and back booths. Traditional walnut decor adds a tasteful backdrop to the granite-topped 14-set bar while railroad-tied pillars connect slotted flat scrap wood at the front right side, an artful exhibit complementing the train station.

A comfortable neighborhood pub with a friendly attitude, warm atmosphere and charming ambiance, End Of Elm will impress sophisticated beer snobs as well as casual cocktail enthusiasts and may be the best gastropub Morristown has to offer.

www.endofelm.com