Category Archives: BEER PUB

DENNY’S BEER BARREL PUB

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CLEARFIELD, PENNSYLVANIA

Just off Route 80 in Central Pennsylvania, DENNY’S BEER BARREL PUB will please any burger-lovin’ beer pounder. Founded by owner Denny Liegey in 1977, this barnstable-like Clearfield landmark was gutted and re-done during January 2016.

Always known as a terrific burger joint (with a TV-enhanced sportsbar atmosphere), its current brick-walled oak bar setup includes 40 taps loaded with hard-to-find local stuff, nationally recognized craft brews and eight well-known macros.

My wife and I head to the 20-seat bar for some late-night brews, June ’17. A separate left side dining area suits families. The BBQ-sauced Paterno Burger, dedicated to the legendary Penn State football coach, leads a fine menu including steaks, pub sandwiches, seafood and salads. I ate the juicy Kaiser-rolled PA Wilds Elk Burger while my wife enjoyed the batter-dipped Mac And Cheese Wedges.

Tonight’s draught selections included five previously untried beers (reviewed in Beer Index) from the Keystone State plus one Oregon-based bourbon-aged beauty. I thoroughly enjoyed beechwood-smoked, cherry-soured Bullfrog Smoked Cherry Farmhouse Wheat, ‘rowdy’ fruitful pale ale, Yards Sons Of Ben Belgian Pale Ale, lemon-soured, banana-cloved Robin Hood Bierfass Hefeweizen, easygoing citric-spiced Rusty Rail Train Wreck Imperial Pale Ale and coconut-toasted mocha confection Spring House Skull #1 Coffee Coconut Porter.

Wonderful West Coast dessert treat, Deschutes Black Butte XXXVIII Bourbon Aged Porter, coalesced bourbon vanilla serenity with sweet orange peel and peat-smoked malts.

A definite destination stop for any Route 80 bound denizen, Denny’s world famous burgers and revolving draughts can’t be denied.

dennysbeerbarrelpub.com/

LIBERTY CRAFT HOUSE

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STATE COLLEGE, PENNSYLVANIA

A humble neighborhood joint “inspired by passion for knowledge, skill and small-batch artisan goods,” LIBERTY CRAFT HOUSE is the crown jewel of Penn State’s campus. Tucked into College Avenue across from the main campus in a red brick building, its small front deck with community tables and chairs welcomes patrons to the bustling pub.

Liberty’s 20-seat bar contains over forty draughts, three cask handles and countless bottled-canned craft beers (some of which are one-of-a-kind hard-to-finds) as well as terrific handmade cocktails. Multiple TV’s attract sports fans to the beer-centric bar.

Dining tables crowd the front and left side while the rear open kitchen serves upscale fare. On my June ’17 sojourn with wife and youngest son, the busy Chefs Salad, juicy Crab Cake Sandwich and goat-cheesed Fig and Bruschetta Pizza kept us happy. These dishes went well with a few previously untried beverages (two proprietary cocktails, one hefe, one witbier, one tripel, one strong ale, one coffee ale and a neutral nitro coffee drink).

In a frozen copper goblet, Liberty’s Kentucky Mule bettered a whiskey sour with its lime-juiced ginger spicing, peppery heat and sweet bourbon over tiny ice cubes. Even better, their Moscow Mule brought clean vodka watering to lime-juiced ginger spicing, mild peppery heat, sweet lemonade sugaring and evergreen freshness.

Though Liberty’s collaborative Rothrock Nitro Coffee seemed flat and watery, its light-roast coffee beaning will please softer thirsts.

Reviewed in the Beer Index are Sly Fox Doppelbock Hefeweizen, Bell’s Poolside Ale (a witbier with tart Montmorency cherries), Yards Brewbik’s Cube Tripel, Southern Tier Pittsburgh Left Blonde Coffee and Weyerbacher 22 Anniversary Ale (with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange peel).

Part of the Dante’s Restaurant chain, Liberty Craft House is a natural destination location while perusing PSU.

 

 

GEORGE KEELEY’S

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MANHATTAN, NEW YORK

One of the finest Upper West Side watering holes in Manhattan, GEORGE KEELEY’S serves classic Irish and American pub fare alongside some of New York’s best craft beer on draught.

Just off 83rd Street on Amsterdam Avenue, the cozy neighborhood hangout’s 20-seat mahogany brass-railed bar features 20-plus taps, a large mirrored George Keeley mural and several distinguished liquors. Ten left side tables oppose the bar and multiple TV’s provide a sportsbar atmosphere and a Dogfish Head sign above the front door proves their commitment to craft beer.

The jukebox plays classic rock while I consume six previously untried brews (reviewed in Beer Index) with my friends Steve and Jeremy during a hot summer night in June ’17.

East Coast Amber Lager and Bamberger Mahr’s Ungestpundet Hefetrub represented the pilsner-lager contingent. Captain Lawrence Clearwater Kolsch, LIC Beer Project Primrose Saison and Modern Times Fruitlands with passionfruit and guava were soft-toned faves. KCBC Extremely Dangerous Precedent Double IPA proved worthy but Gisberga Reina De Aragon Porter seemed unfinished.

 

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.

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.

 

GRAND CRU BEER & CHEESE MARKET

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RHINEBECK, NEW YORK

Just north of Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County’s Revolutionary War Era-derived village of Rhinebeck, GRAND CRU BEER & CHEESE MARKET is located across the street from Beekman Arms historic Victorian tavern on Route 9. A small red brick shop open May 2010, its sterling craft bottled-canned beer selection competes favorably with the 16 draught brews at the small rear serving station.

Four front windowed tables service local customers and a small TV atop the refrigerated beers entertains other lurking beer-centric imbibers during my March ’17 noontime perusal.

I grab previously untried Chatham BomboGenesis Double India Pale Ale (reviewed fully in Beer Index) while buying a mixed 6-pack of local New York suds from Yonkers, Chatham, etc.

grandcrurhinebeck.com

 

CURLEY’S CORNER

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SUFFERN, NEW YORK

In the former Suffern Hotel across from the train station, CURLEY’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