If you get as rambunctious about trying new beers as I do – and the fact that you actually read a friggin’ beer blog tells me that you do – then you’ll no doubt understand how exciting the prospect of beer-bar-hopping in Brooklyn, NY last Tuesday night was for me. As I floated on clouds for six hours on my way from San Francisco into JFK international airport, I completely cast aside the fact that I was traveling for my job, and instead focused all of my mental space on the evening ahead. I was going to need to stay focused. My friend Elisa & Mark told me to meet ‘em at a bar in Williamsburg called BARCADE, and knowing that they are lovers of the good things in life, chief among them beer, I knew they were to be trusted in full.
I arrived at BARCADE at the anointed hour. This is a somewhat dingy, cement-floor kind of place, livened up with all manner of chirping video games from the 1980s (Ms. Pac-Man, Frogger, Defender – that sort of thing) and some “flair” on the walls. The biggest flair, however, is on the board behind the bar, where over 25 craft beers compete for one’s thirst. I had done a little pre-flight snooping on their web site, and knew that I wasn’t going to escape Brooklyn without downing a glass of something from SOUTHERN TIER, who make some of the finest ales on the east coast. I had barely stumbled into the joint when I started waving a ten-spot at the barkeep while barking, “SOUTHERN TIER RASPBERRY PORTER, please! Southern Tier, over here, please!”. SOUTHERN TIER RASPBERRY PORTER apparently combines the brewery’s famous Porter with the brewery’s famous Raspberry Wheat. That’s almost exactly what it tasted like, too. Very fizzy and carbonated, yet still rich and robust enough to warm a cold man’s heart. (And it was 26 degrees outside). The raspberry smell and taste is actually quite fleeting, and therefore one can taste the hops & porter-like malts quite well. I wasn’t exactly clubbed over the head with its greatness, but then, I was just getting started. 7.5/10.
The next beer at Barcade was even better. I chose SOUTHAMPTON FRENCH COUNTRY CHRISTMAS ALE. Word has it that this bier de garde is also known as, you guessed it, BIER DE GARDE, and is sold in 750ml bottles around the New York area, but this year they’re calling it this other thing. Loved it! Opaque and smooth as glass, it’s got a great baked-apple taste that’s muted and in the background, along with some spicing and mild, malty sweetness. I’d only had one other beer from Southampton – the vaunted DOUBLE WHITE ALE – and enjoyed this one exponentially more. 9/10!! Well, when Elisa & Mark next floated the idea of walking down the street to the SPUYTEN DUYVIL, a beer bar as famous as any American beer bar there is, I could have just called it a night and taken the subway to my hotel. But I didn’t. More in Part Two, coming to ya tomorrow.