MANHATTAN, NEW YORK
Just down the street from Hop Devil Grill in Manhattan’s East Village, diminutive dive bar, PROLETARIAT, boasts ‘rare, new and unusual beer’ as its prophetic slogan. An inconspicuous St. Mark’s Place hangout for crazed craft beer enthusiasts, Proletariat opened May 2012 to excited local fanfare.
A narrow joint with an elongated left side bar and one front windowed table, the rustic black-bricked interior walls (with bright paint-chipped clusters) resembles a ’50s ice cream parlor with its low-to-the-ground swivel stools, white-tiled ceiling and right-walled picture frame regalia. Four tap fountains contain twelve rotating draught handles and several hard-to-find beer bottles adorn the shelves.
On my initial April ’13 visit, Beverage Director Cory Bonfiglio efficiently tends bar as a packed house enjoys a well-rounded choice of beers going from light pilsner to rich mocha stout. As cool underground rock plays in the background, I dip into Louisville’s Against The Grain Hacksaaz Chuggin’ Pils, a dry-hopped rye-grained light body with orange-oiled herbal notions. Next, Long Island City’s Rockaway ESB upped the citric rye influence of the former pils for an upscale pale ale-like refresher given an English-styled earthen fungi musk.
As it starts to pour outside, several nearby customers decide to chow down on the limited, but fine, pub fare (such as Toasted Pretzels, Brined Potato Wedges, Grilled Cheese, Beer-Braised Brat and Reuben Burger). I reach for sessionable Manhattan-based Radiant Pig Jr. IPA, an easygoing charmer with lighter India Pale Ale-related stylistic illusions. Its polite piney grapefruit-peeled orange rind bittering and minor juniper snip contrasted tangy peach, mango, passionfruit, pineapple and melon tropicalia.
For a closer, lenten amber lager, Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier, proved how well German rauchbiers strike a chord with rangy palates. Its beechwood-smoked parlance, sweet cedar chipping and Band-aid wafted astringency pleasurably seeped into the tongue.
True to the free-spirited underground punk scene that once thrived on St. Mark’s Place, Proletariat offers an intriguing melange of super suds.