HEARTLAND BREWERY

HEARTLAND BREWERY - EMPIRE STATEMANHATTAN, NEW YORK

Though most of the beers at the five Manhattan-based HEARTLAND brewpubs get brewed in a separate Brooklyn facility, each pub has its own definitive specificity and atmosphere. I have frequented these variegated local watering holes on many occasions, usually on the way to softball games in Central Park with High Times.  

In June ’06, made trek to South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan to quaff a few seasonal brews at HEARTLAND (opened around 2003). Located in a brick corner building directly across from the seaport, this diminutive Heartland pub (the third of five now operating) featured a street side front deck and interior dining section to left of small centralized bar with mahogany mantle stocking liquor bottles. Nifty oversized beer labels bedecked paneled walls while barbecue food dominated the menu. Tempting seasonal offerings included sweet nutty Grateful Red Lager, tangy apricot-tangerine-clementine-ripened wheat-dried Summertime Apricot Ale, and briskly lemon rind/ grapefruit peel-embittered piney-hopped earthen-fungi dry Czech lager Empire Premium Beer. Tremendous find: rich creamy Belgian Cherry Chocolate Stout, with its dry chocolate-y cappuccino abundance seeping overripe cherry, raspberry puree, black licorice, and tertiary wood-smoked walnut-hazelnut illusions. June ’09, tried candi-sugared orange-banana-bruised clove-spiced pepper-hopped Big Belgian Blonde with buddy John Ehrhart.

Revisited Heartland’s South Street Seaport site with wife, November ’09, prior to Jemina Pearl show at Bowery Ballroom. We shared tart raspberry-pomegranate-fronted ginger-sarsaparilla-licorice-backed Berry Champagne Ale and soapy honey-roasted pumpkin-pied clove-cinnamon-nutmeg-spiced Smiling Pumpkin Ale. For dessert, tried overripe banana-sweetened clove-spiced cherry-bruised Drunken Monkey Harvest Wheat with Banana Liqueur.

HEARTLAND BREWERY - SOUTH STREET

March ’07, visited HEARTLAND midtown location on 51st Street to watch first round of NCAA Hoops Tourney. Sat at L-shaped wood bar near side entrance admiring beautiful oak bar, old Americana murals strewn across walls, and brass brew tank surrounded by wood clock, whiskey barrels, and twin lanterns. Tried two seasonal offerings distinguished by peculiar wood-lacquered mouthfeel. Alpha Male Ale possessed raw-honeyed citric frontage girding dry-hopped ginseng and Peruvian Maca root herbage. Frothy-headed St. Patrick’s Day homage, Kelly’s Irish Red Ale, dangled creamy caramel malts atop nutty dry-hopped spiced rum illusions.

April ’07, took wife to see hysterical Broadway musical comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone, but beforehand had lunch at Empire State Building’s HEARTLAND BREWERY & ROTISSERIE. The most enchanting Heartland brewpub yet, its two-tier setting offered busy ground floor bar and dining space as well as attractive wood-furnished basement-level lodge with central bar and wraparound seating down spiral staircase (corkscrewing white grain silo featuring lady liberty). Rear brew tanks may’ve held seasonal offerings such as doubly dry-hopped pine needle-y black peppered orange-grapefruit peeled Indie 500 Pale Ale. Raspberry Blonde with Chamborde Liqueur was absolutely delicious, placing toot-sweet cream-corned raspberry essence above sugared wafer depth and blueberry-cranberry tartness. Best bet: exquisite Full Moon Barleywine, with its buttery cognac-like bruised cherry-banana sweetness, papaya-mango-pineapple tang, and mint-y herbage opposing fierce bourbon alcohol burn and lusty orange peel bittering.

HEARTLAND BREWERY - UNION SQ.

Finally perused HEARTLAND BREWERY’S original red-bricked tavern-styled Union Square hotspot, June ’09. Opened around 1993, 19th century-styled murals, old wood furnishings, and ancient pony kegs enhance the long right side bar across tucked-in left side dining and small loft area fronting glass-enclosed brew tanks. Along the walls are many ancient brewery’s large-framed logos, including Fink’s Derby Cream Ale, Stanton Giant Pale Ale, Mule Head Ale, Old Diamond Kaier’s Ale, Gretz Porter, and Tally Ho Porter.

Recently, Heartland updated its recipes so I re-tried all six house brews before settling on Full Moon Barleywine, a banana liqueur-ish cherry-pureed pineapple-honeydew-cantaloupe-sweetened toffee-malted clove-spiced elixir. Though corn-flaked grain-parched perfume-hopped grapefruit-embittered astringency Cornhusker Lager and dry lemon-wedged citric-honeyed currant-addled white-breaded meanderer Harvest Wheat Beer were below expectations, caramelized rye-dried fig-date-sugarplum-plied Red Rooster Ale and orange-oiled hop-spiced grapefruit-soured peach-pear-apricot-ripened Indiana Pale Ale sufficed. Creamy espresso-fronted vanilla-sweetened oats-toasted black coffee-embittered Farmer Jon’s Oatmeal Stout retained a soothing softness that’ll win over dark beer fans.

Revisited Union Square site August ’10 to try salmon dish with seasonal French Toast, a crisp light-bodied lemon-wedged Saison with clover-honeyed salty-bottomed citric bittering and floral lavender-jasmine tinge.

In town for October ’09 autumnfest, visited Times Square-stationed HEARTLAND BREWERY & CHOPHOUSE, quaffing one pumpkin-spiced seasonal and one blended autumnal ale. Perhaps the most family-oriented of the popular Manhattan chain, its red brick-walled interior has an intimate feel and three private back sections, including the Tap Room (with full bar service), Stout Room and Harvest Room.

Sharp-hopped cinnamon-spiced pumpkin pie-crusted Smiling Pumpkin Ale retained creamy caramel-malted nutmeg-ginger-allspice accents and moderate citric rind bitterness. Outstanding full-bodied Smiling Pumpkin/Farmer Jon’s Oatmeal Stout blend, Stumpkin, embellished hop-charred chocolate-vanilla frontage with heavy licorice-anise illusions and bittersweet gourd-curried fig-prune density.

Journeyed once more to Heartland’s Times Square location, December ’12, to try one cagey Christmas soother and one subtly splendid schwarzbier. Along with several business associates, ate some delicious appetizers as well. There were the cheesy spring rolls, moist bison bug\rgers and fabulous crab cakes to go with my two half-pint samplers.
 
Bettering most vaguely defined German schwarzbiers, Heartland Bavarian Black Lager benefited from its well arranged flavor profile. Its mild licorice-toffee entry and ashen cocoa-chocolate malting soaked into sugared fig, dried prune and black cherry nuances above a delicate pumpernickel-breaded spine.
 
As for the 2012 version of Heartland Old Red Nose Ale, its dim brown-sugared crystal malting received a wintry ginger-rooted cinnamon-nutmeg spicing as well as a rum-spiced Scotch lick, allowing meager orange peel, cherry whiskey and roasted chestnut snips to fill out the backend.

Two doors down from Heartland’s 43rd Street Times Square location lies affiliated HB BURGER, opened February ’09. Its black-white tile floor, cozy left-side booths, wood-furnished bar, and wrought-iron chandeliers were reminescent of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor.

www.heartlandbrewery.com

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