I went out this past Friday into NYC to met up with my best men, Jim and Darius (aka Coqbyrne). We were celebrating Darius' birthday, but really all of our birthdays, since we aren't always able to make it out together 3 times a year.
Anyway, we met up at Grand Central, and headed west to the Pony Bar (www.theponybar.com). Heard is was a good craft beer purveyor, and that was very true! They had a LOT on tap, including 2 cask ales. Flying Dog must have cut a deal with them, because they had at least 4 selections from that brewery. All pints were $5, except a few imperials and barleywines which were $5 for an 8oz glass. We had (in no particular order or amount):
Dogfish Head 60min IPA
Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter (8oz)
Shipyard Prelude Special Ale
Troeg's Dead Reckoning Porter
Flying Dog Road Dog Porter
Ithaca Nut Brown Ale
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Weyerbacher's Hop Infusion IPA (cask)
Obviously, we passed a few glasses around so we all got a taste. They poured everything right, and their taps are clean. We ended up with a few of these beers because the place was so loud, the bartender didn't exactly catch our order right. We really didn't care. The cask ale was a little flat, but I kind of expected that, since casks don't tend to hold carbonation well. I have to figure out how to make one for my brother's wedding. Good thing that is 1.5 yrs away!
We were thinking of eating there, but there weren't many tables, and the only way to get one would be to fight it out with neighboring groups when someone decided to leave. Being elder statesmen in the world of bars and beer, and having the wisdom that no seat in any bar is worth a battle, we decided to go across the street to Hallo, Berlin! (www.halloberlinrestaurant.com) for dinner. We've been there before, and know they have good beer and good food. It was also quiet enough for us to talk (which is something the 3 of us do very well together). We opted for a pitcher of Koestritzer Black Lager, which, for some reason, excited our waitress. Not many people order it, but it is her favorite. It was good, and it went well with our selections of rouladen, spaetzle, potato panckaes, red cabbage, some kind of soup, green beans, cucumber salad, meatballs, and assorted Wursts. All this for around $100 with tip!
After we ate and BS-ed a while, we headed back to the Pony Bar for another round (don't remember exactly what we had). It was even more crowded and loud, so we opted to head back towards Port Authority and we stopped at the NY Film Center Cafe, which was quiet and elegant. They played all different movies on their flat-screens, and the walls were painted with the logos of every major movie studio from years gone past. We had a scotch (and bourbon), and ended the night with a Blue Point Toasted Lager, one of my favorites.
Then, we headed home by train and bus. As I rode home, I thought about how much fun I had with those guys. Even though the main focus of this blog is beer, that was merely the backdrop to the true story: three friends who have managed to stay in touch and remain close from high school through college, marriage and parenthood. The topics and frequencies of our conversations and outings may have changed, but if is obvious that we are in it for the long haul, and that our freindships will always remain. Oh, and by the way, beer has ALWAYS been the backdrop to this story!