Just a few minutes away from my Jersey home (across the border in Rockland County) lies friendly neighborhood joint, BLUE RIBBON TAVERN. An unfancy barn-like beer pub with good food that’s proud home to one-ounce bourbon flights, this casual wood-furnished dive with a quaint sportsbar atmosphere is located at an unassuming mini-mall in Chestnut Ridge (five miles north of Pearl River’s Defiant Brewing). Dispersing craft brews since July ’13, its ever-changing dozen-plus taps are spread across the long bar top.

Since it’s the Friday before St. Patty’s Day, tonight’s dinner special is Swiss-cheesed rye-toasted cornbeef with mustard, a good choice to pair with probably the nuttiest Black IPA I ever quaffed.

My wife, daughter and I sit at one of the five tables along the blue-marbled white-based wall across from the 12-stooled wooden bar (with four TV’s, busy liquor shelves and dozen-plus tap handles serving craft beer). A chalkboard lists today’s featured taps and a few dartboards fill the right wall along with shelved tap handles and other ephemera.

John Lennon’s plaintive “Imagine” and Creedence’s rampaging “Travelin’ Band” blare in the background as I consume cornbeef and drift into a bite or two of my wife’s juicy Steak Sandwich and daughter’s crisp Santa Fe Chicken.

After downing Defiant Polar Vortex Black IPA, a richly black chocolate-malted, hop-charred, walnut-roasted bitter with distant grapefruit-dried pineapple fondue undertones, ice water gets consumed to soften my palate for a winningly peculiar witbier.

Bringing an unexpected plastique grouting and floral dusting to the typical Belgian-styled lemony orange spicing, Empire White Aphro elegantly works advertised lavender-perfumed ginger and white-peppered coriander adjuncts into its fruitful vanilla-daubed honeyed wheat base (picking up peachy banana-clove-bubblegum wisps).

For dessert, I thoroughly enjoyed enduringly mellifluous Cricket Hill Brewmasters Reserve #2 Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter, a richly textured mocha-sugared oats-charred full body seeped in Four Roses bourbon oak and graced by mocha latte, caramel latte, vanilla and toffee tones.

A few weeks later, my wife and I share cheddar-cheesed bacon-crisped ABC Grilled Cheese and Swiss-cheesed onion-sauteed Peppercorn Bison Burger. These hearty items went well with superb Ellicottville Chocolate Cherry Bomb, a richly creamed Imperial Stout with black cherry-pureed blackberry and blueberry tartness enhanced by ascending vanilla sweetness and contrasted against embittered hop-charred nuttiness.

Phone: 845 356 4477

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