Infest was booked for two shows in Brooklyn, so we headed out early to get a taste of this town, landing at JFK on a Thursday evening. Our plane sat on the tarmac for an hour, while the pilot informed us our gate “wasn’t ready”. What? The airport didn’t know we were coming? We finally deplaned, only to wait an additional 15 minutes for our gate-checked guitars to show up, but only after continued prodding of flight staff. I’ve always loved NY, but since we’ve landed why is everyone here a buffoon?
|I knew I'd get some sweet action in NYC|
Thursday night, no obligations, so we drop off bags at our Airbnb room and head over to THE ANCHORED INN, a funky pub adorned with floor to ceiling black velvet paintings depicting everything from a cockeyed wizard to an ancient warrior riding a sleigh pulled by polar bears. Behind the bar is one of the co-owners, Bill Dozer, one of the nicest and hardest working scenesters you could hope to meet. He runs the kitchen and bar here, as well as sound next door at the adjoining Acheron club. It’s midnight, but the kitchen stays open long enough to whip up some excellent burgers, and I’m off to the races sampling some Brooklyn brews courtesy of Sixpoint Brewing, with the Sweet Action being particularly good. Bill points out this beer is one that all of his patrons identify as something different. Some say Pale Ale, I guessed it was a mild Barleywine, Untappd says it’s a Cream Ale. Whatever it is, it’s freakin’ tasty.
|Naw, take your time, Pops|
This afternoon the gang piled into Dan O’s van and headed to a staple of Brooklyn pizza lore, DiFara’s. One of the irresolvable arguments of this borough is who has the best pie. Many argue that it’s DiFara’s. I don’t research these things, so I was just along for the ride. Best Pizza In NY? Sounds good. However, one thing I didn’t know in advance was EVERY SINGLE pizza is made by one man, Mr. DiFara. He’s the only one allowed to make the pizzas, so much so that legend has it he burned his hand and the whole operation closed its doors for several months until he recovered. Our first mistake was ordering 2 large pies, thinking we would save money on each getting slices. Turns out slices are the way to go. We waited. And waited. Everyone went across the street to the bagel joint to get something to eat while we were waiting for our pizzas. And we still waited. We had invested so much time already it was difficult to determine if we should cut our losses and go, or stick it out. Two hours later our pies arrived. They were delicious. Then again it was 3pm and I hadn’t eaten anything, so at this point a week-old hot dog from 7-Eleven would have been delicious. The Best? Well, you’ll just have to wait & judge for yourself.
|No caption can make this photo funnier than it already is.|
Next stop was Coney Island. We were a week too early to see Joey Chestnut in the annual Hot Dog Eating Competition, but we were still able to grab a dog & a beer at Nathan’s. Their proprietary Coney Island Lager was surprisingly good, but the goodness was short lived as the NYPD left a bad taste in our mouths after pulling our friend Alex Sanchez aside. He had mace visibly attached his belt loop. He has a permit for mace. Unfortunately his permit was for Pennsylvania, and we were in NY. Mace isn’t legal to carry in NY, so they cuffed him and took him to the local precinct. We talked to a few undercover cops who were explaining the laws regarding mace. They knew they were taking him in for something that wasn’t a big deal, and that made it even worse. One of the cops was trying to make us feel at ease, like he was “cool” and “just one of the boys” by talking very matter-of-factly, and making comments about women walking by, like “Whoa, lookit dat ass!” They told us Sanchez would be out “in an hour or two”, which the locals tell me is typical, even if they hold you for a day or more. Unfortunately, we had to let our incarcerated pal work it out solo because we had to get back to the venue for tonight’s show.
|Nathan's with Joey D., not Joey C.|
Once again, we were at The Anchored Inn, geared up to play the adjoining ACHERON next door. I was told this place was small, but that’s an understatement. Luckily, these smaller shows are always my favorite. The intimacy & interaction with the crowd is what makes it exciting, because aside from frontman Denunzio, the other three of us don’t “put on a show”. We stand there & hammer out these tunes, looking very much like the middle-aged Dads that we are. All of the opening bands were awesome, and I somehow found one tiny, vacant square of real estate in the back of the room where I was able to watch them. Magrudergrind are always a highlight for me, and tonight was no exception. These dudes are brothers-from-another-mother, and they absolutely killed it.
The sound was great, thanks to Bill Dozer, and all in attendance were simply there to have fun and go off. There was a hiccup or two in our set, but otherwise tonight’s show went smoothly. To my surprise, a few days later the Village Voice even ran a complimentary piece on the show. The bands wrapped it up before midnight, and The Anchored Inn stayed open til 4am, so needless to say it was a fine evening of tipsy tomfoolery, including some selections I can’t find out West, like Geary’s Summer Ale and Founder’s Dry Hopped Pale Ale.
I kicked off the day at a Bed-Stuy pizzeria called SPEEDY ROMEO. Awesome wood-fired foods. I went for the baked eggs which came in a cast iron pan with arugula on the side; one of my favorite breakfasts in recent memory. Additionally, my waitress was cool with pouring me some half-pints, even though they didn’t officially serve beer samplers, so I checked out some great local taps from SingleCut Beersmiths, the Billy 18-Watt IPA and Kim Hibiscus Sour. My pal R.J. Ober, guitarist of Magrudergrind and regional rep for Victory Brewing, was kind enough to meet up & guide me for the afternoon.
We took the G Train (aka the “Ghost
Train”, nicknamed for its reputation of not showing up) out to TORST, a fancy
schmancy beer bar run by Evil Twin Brewing. This was at the very top of my list
to visit, being a huge fan of all things Evil Twin. The environment is very
antiseptic. I’m not sure if you’d call it post-modern or metrosexual or just plain
uncomfortable, but it was pristine and clean enough for Felix Ungar. All beers are served in stemmed wine glasses, which frankly is kind of embarrassing... it's kind of like riding a moped: It's really fun until someone sees you doing it. One unique thing about this spot is their
Flux Capacitor, which keeps each tap at the perfect serving temperature for
each beer. And it was! Nothing was too
cold, it was all just the right temp to enjoy what each style had to
offer. We were joined by my new pal Bill
Dozer and his wife, and co-owner of The Anchored Inn, Carmen Mello. This couple also knows a ton about the local
beer scene, so I was in perfect sippin’ company with these three. Despite the less-than-warm nature of the
room, Torst offered a cavalcade of beer nerd fodder, including many East Coast
brewers I never see… Maine Beer Co., Carton, Other Half, Westbrook. In retrospect, it was ironic that Evil Twin is one of my favorites, as I didn’t try a single Evil Twin brew
while I was there. We shared the De Dolle Oerbier which defies
categorization, and I was nearly moved to tears by the perfection of the
Haandbryggeriet Dark Force Russian Imperial Stout. Biggest surprise was the
Westbrook Mexican Cake Imperial Stout aged on cacao nibs, vanilla beans,
cinnamon sticks, and habaneros.. Complex & rich, it tasted like Christmas
in Santa Fe. But this was summer in NY, and we had to keep moving…
Another quick subway ride and we were suddenly in Manhattan’s East
Village, taking stairs
below street level to an unassuming pub, JIMMY'S NO. 43. The whole subterranean atmosphere reminded me
of Cheers, and this is clearly a local’s hangout, not geared towards the
tourist crowd whatsoever. Their taps are predominantly East Coast, and all
obscure, at least for me. Barrier Brewing, Peekskill
Brewery, Radiant Pig, Oxbow from Maine, Off
Color from Chicago. This place is the shiznit. Between the four of us, we sampled nearly
everything on the list. My favorites
were the offerings from Barrier, who apparently doesn’t tend to brew the same
thing twice. My picks of the list would be the Barrier Bulkhead Red IPA and the
Oxbow Farmhouse Pale Ale. Great brews,
but the kitchen wasn’t open & we were famished, now that it was going on
4pm. Time for a quick sandwich at Porchetta, one of the best slow roasted pork sandwiches on the planet, and then down the block to my newest mecca of all things sudsy: PROLETARIAT.
They specialize in "Rare, New, and Unusual Beers." Too bad I wasn't wearing tape on my glasses, because I felt like king of the nerds. This establishment is beyond words. Very small, very specialized, carrying only the best of the best. Taps that I've never seen anywhere else. Breweries that I've never seen anywhere else. Everything was top notch, and the man manning the braus, Cory Bonfiglio, strikes me as the Dave Witte of NYC... one of those fellas who has been intently following good beer for way longer than 98% of the people involved in the beer scene now. This man knows his shit and is one of the best possible allies for navigating the "deep cuts" on their list. Everything was a highlight, each pour better than the next... Hof Ten Dormaal Grappa Barrel Belgian Dark, Loverbeer Beerbrugna sour on tap, Glazen Toren Saison D'Erpe Mere Speciale Editie, Hill Farmstead / Brasserie de Blaugies collaboration La Vermontoise farmhouse ale... all sheer perfection.
|Torst. Not exactly warm & fuzzy.|
|This man knows a helluva lot more than you|
It was early evening, and I needed to sober up in order to play our second show this evening, so we all headed back to Brooklyn, to this evening's venue THE WICK.
This massive brick compound was, appropriately enough, the site of an old brewery. In many of these cavernous rooms, I could still smell hints of musty, ancient fermentation... the greatest possible sense memory. The vibe was good, the turnout of 500+ was great, the opening bands were excellent, our set was OK... On a stage that big and that high, I always feel a bit of a disconnect from the crowd. I couldn't even see past the second row of folks in front of the stage. The crowd seemed to enjoy it which is all that really matters. The best part of this evening was reconnecting with old friends from the NY area hardcore/punk/metal scene, some of whom I haven't seen since the '90s when I was playing with Spazz... Ralphy Boy & Matt from Disassociate, Javier from Born Against/Iabhorher/Kylesa, Keith from Rorschach, Rob & Andrew from Black Army Jacket, Eddie from Cattlepress... it really made my evening hanging out with these guys. I told them it felt like a high school reunion, except with people I actually wanted to see. Good vibes. The Wick kicked us all out, and we migrated down the block, some to a Troma Films show, and others to The Anchored Inn around the corner. I ended up at the latter, and stayed up til the wee hours catching up with old friends, surprised that Keith Huckins was the only person on this entire trip to give me shit about wearing an LA Kings hat. Yo... Rangers lost. Deal with it.
I think everyone had a good time except drummer Bob, who according to eye-witness accounts, wavered heavily after two rum & Cokes, and stumbled to the sidewalk unable to stand. Guitarist Matt Domino spotted what was happening, donned his Good Samaritan hat, and took Bob back to our room where the lanky legend purged what was ailing him. The next morning we speculated if Bob was laid up after too much exhaustion (he had climbed the Statue Of Liberty earlier in the day, and then played a show that night), or if someone had drugged him, either accidentally or on purpose. Bob isn't a heavy drinker, but then again, he can handle two drinks easily.
At least Bob woke up feeling well, and ready to pursue his Standard Operating Procedure of a day chock full o' Diet Coke and pinball. Me, I was ready to explore more Brooklyn brews. I started out the afternoon sampling a tasty Victory Wild Devil farmhouse style IPA, courtesy of RJ Ober, but now that my whistle was wet, I needed more. We had the entire day free on Sunday, but I was the only one motivated to find local beer. I knew if I stuck around, my afternoon would disappear quickly in a series of waiting around for other people to go eat, take a shit, get cigarettes, get something else to eat, etc. So, I put on my big boy pants and hit this borough solo. One of the local breweries that intrigued me was OTHER HALF BREWING, and according to Google Maps it was just a few blocks off the G Train. Even after two full days here, I had less than zero familiarity of what's where in Brooklyn, but I still headed to the train alone, assuming I'd make sense of it quickly. Within half an hour, I was meandering through an industrial section of the Red Hook neighborhood, looking for a brewery with no signage whatsoever. Other Half is simply a nondescript room off the street, in a shabby, graffitied brick building. If it wasn't for the address on the website, I would have never known this place existed by simply walking by. One small room, practically underneath the 278 expressway, raw and gritty, fully DIY, with cool '90s hip hop tunes in constant rotation, and eight high quality taps. Anthony was behind the counter, soft spoken, and as chill as it gets. I tried all eight beers (actually, I had already sampled their Green Diamonds DIPA the day before at Torst), and loved them all.
40 oz later, I was more than pleasantly buzzed, and trying to figure out how to meet up with my cohorts on the other side of town. They were all in the Greenpoint neighborhood watching Bob play pinball at a laundromat. I rode the subway up, met my peeps, had a few quick slices (2 minute wait, as opposed to 2 hours), and grabbed a last local pint at LAKE STREET BAR, the Bronx Brewery Bronx Pale Ale. All too soon we were headed back to JFK, with still so much untapped potential I was leaving behind in Brooklyn, but it would have to wait for my next beering adventure. So many missed opportunities. Or maybe it was just the Big Apple's final revenge on a cocky Cali boy walking around in a Kings hat. Brooklyn's got the flava, Son!
|Welcome to The Wick.|
|I love deez ol' palookas!|
|Naw, it's way classier 'n shit!|
|OK, but where's the Other Half of this deer?|
Thursday 6/26 - LAX to JFK in a day
1228 - WIDMER BROTHERS UPHEAVAL IPA - At Rock & Brews, LAX... is this the joint owned by Gene Simmons? Decent IPA, smooth finish, evenly balanced hops.
1229 - SIXPOINT BREWERY RIGHTEOUS RYE ALE - Mildy spicy & hoppy rye beer, on tap at Anchored Inn, Brooklyn
1230 - SIXPOINT BREWERY SWEET ACTION - Pale ale? Cream ale? Barley wine? Whatever it is, it's freakin' good.
1231 - BELL'S OBERON ALE -Wheat beer, fresh & refreshing
Friday 6/27 - Brooklyn: Part 1
1232 - CONEY ISLAND BREWING CONEY ISLAND LAGER - Tasty, malty, reddish-amber lager at Nathan's... I ordered two and my change was $9.11!
1233 - D.L. GEARY BREWING GEARY'S SUMMER ALE - Nice n' citrusy n' amber, not weak like most beers in the "summer" category.
1235 - FOUNDERS BREWING DRY HOPPED PALE ALE - Welcome to hop town, love it, great Nouveau label art, too.
Saturday 6/28 - Brooklyn: Part 2
1236 - SINGLECUT BEERSMITHS BILLY 18 WATT IPA - Hoppy, light and crisp, like a session IPA.
1237 - SINGLECUT BEERSMITHS KIM HIBISCUS SOUR LAGRRR! - Tastes like it sounds.
1238 - CARTON BREWING MONKEY CHASED THE WEASEL - Great Berlinerweisse with mulberry, hint of tartness but not overly fruity.
1239 - OTHER HALF BREWING GREEN DIAMONDS IMPERIAL IPA - Excellent DIPA, apparently brewed by ex-Sixpoint'ers
1240 - BROUWERIJ DE DOLLE OERBIER - Slightly tart, peppery beer that defies most categories.
1241 - HAANDBRYGGERIET DARK FORCE - Wow! What a treat. Black, oily, and Norwegian... just like my women.
1242 - BROUWERIJ LIEFMANS GOUDENBAND OUD BRUIN - Killer!
1243 - WESTBROOK BREWING MEXICAN CAKE - Christmastime in Santa Fe.
1244 - BARRIER BREWING REMBRANDT PORTER - Nice & roasty, apparently the brewery doesn't often brew the same thing twice.
1245 - PEEKSKILL BREWERY SIMPLE SOUR - Very sessionable, like a sweet white wine.
1246 - BARRIER BREWING BULKHEAD RED - Excellent red IPA!
1247 - BARRIER BREWING MOLLY CODDLE - Total English style brown pub ale.
1248 - OFF COLOR BREWING SCURRY DARK TRADITIONAL ALE - Mellow, mildly yeasty, mildly roasty.
1249 - OXBOW BREWING FARMHOUSE PALE ALE - Great!
1250 - RADIANT PIG GANGSTER DUCK RED ALE - Slightly spicy, almost like a mild curry, with cookie dough yeast.
1251 - BROUWERIJ HOF TEN DORMAAL GRAPPA BARREL BELGIAN DARK - High alcohol, acidic & biting, but so goddamn good.
1252 - LOVERBEER BEERBRUGNA - Rare Italian beer on tap, a sour with plums, so smooth.
1253 - GLAZEN TOREN SAISON D'ERPE MERE SPECIALE EDITIE - Crazy good, but too tipsy to tell what I'm tasting.
1254 - JOLLY PUMPKIN / ANCHORAGE COLLABORATION BOREAL - A sour ale aged in oak with grapefruit & peppercorns. Sounds wacky, but it's crazy delicious.
1255 - HILL FARMSTEAD BREWERY / BRASSERIE DE BLAUGIES COLLABORATION LA VERMONTOISE - Hoppy, zesty, ridiculously good.
1256 - ADIRONDACK BEAVERTAIL BROWN - A sleeping bag made of malt that I want to curl up in.
Sunday 6/29 – Brooklyn: Part 3
|Yes, this is a brewery: Brooklyn style|
1257 - VICTORY BREWING WILD DEVIL - A version of their Hop Devil with brettanomyces added. Way different. Doesn't taste like an IPA. Like a wild, tangy farmhouse ale. Sharp and funky. Great stuff. Thanks RJ!
1258 - OTHER HALF BREWING MONTUEKA PALE ALE – Like corn cobs and wheat.
1259 - OTHER HALF BREWING HOP SHOWERS – Straight ahead IPA, citrusy & bright.
1260 - OTHER HALF BREWING OTHER HALF IPA – West Coast style w/ simcoe hops.
1261 - OTHER HALF BREWING DOUG CASCADIAN DARK IPA – Brewed last December, they sat on a couple kegs and ended up with a well-rounded beer, full mouthfeel, perfect blend of hops and deep roasty malts.
1262 - OTHER HALF BREWING HUP! HUP! HUP! – Belgian style farmhouse ale with a hint of hop tightness.
1263 - OTHER HALF BREWING GALAXY IPA – Clean, crisp, well done.
1264 - OTHER HALF BREWING WHEAT WINE – Like a lighter barley wine, sweet & wheaty, would be great in a winter cabin. Excellent, a real powerhouse.
1265 - THE BRONX BREWERY BRONX PALE ALE – Light amber, malt forward, full mouthfeel, tasty & perfect for hangin’ with mooks from The Bronx, yo.
Monday 6/30 - home
1266 - ANDERSON VALLEY BREWING SPRING HORNIN' - Love Anderson Valley, this is no exception.
1267 - EVIL TWIN FREUDIAN SLIP - Freakishly delicious. Full, well-rounded, sweet and decadent barleywine.
Tuesday 7/1 - home
1268 - SAN MIGUEL BREWERY RED HORSE BEER - My wife found this at the 99 Cent Store. Not as horrific as I was expecting. Like Bud, except the Philippines version.
1269 - DE STRUISE BROUWERS TSJEESES - Smells and tastes like liquefied walnuts.
Wednesday 7/2 – at the Hollywood Bowl, watching Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers
1270 - EVIL TWIN YANG – Killer imperial IPA.
1271 - SMUTTYNOSE SHOALS PALE ALE - Roasty grain and malt forward, fab on a summer's eve waiting for Steve Martin
1272 - BEACHWOOD BREWING STILL LIFE SMOKED STOUT - Rich milky and smoky stout, this is exactly what I need on a perfect summer nite @ the Bowl
1273 - CLOWN SHOES SWAGGER HOPPY RED LAGER - Still at the Bowl, so freakin good, crisp and hoppy red
Thursday 7/3 – Vendome new release tasting and a few at home
1274 - BELCHING BEAVER ME SO HONEY – A honey wheat ale that is not overly sweet, thankfully. The description says “wild flowers & cloves”, but I’m not getting any of that. Decent, and easy drinking.
1275 - NEW BELGIUM / 3 FLOYDS COLLABORATION GRATZER ALE – An oak smoked wheat ale which actually tastes a lot like an old ashtray, with a lingering Marlboro finish.
1276 - DESCHUTES BREWERY NOT THE STOIC – Whoa! Rich and thick as molasses. Superior!
1278 - BEACHWOOD/HERETIC/STONE COLLABORATION UNAPOLOGETIC IPA – Nice combo of citrus depth and hoppy bite.
1279 - BIG SKY BREWING SUMMER HONEY ALE – Not necessary.
1280 - ANDERSON VALLEY BREWING SUMMER SOLSTICE – Overly sweet & caramelly, almost headed towards barleywine territory.
1281 - ALE INDUSTRIES RYE'D PIPER – I’m a sucker for anything rye related. I don’t love this. It’s OK, but I’d never buy it again.
Friday 7/4 – The Fourth at home with friends
1282 - UINTA BREWING MONKSHINE – A standout Belgian style golden ale, easy drinking, this could easily be my everyday beer.
1283 – ALASKAN BREWING SUMMER ALE – Kolsch style, wheaty & mildly malty, can’t complain, this is a solid, accessible beer.
1284 - WARKA LAGER - Not nearly as bad as I was expecting, pretty decent generic Polish lager.
1285 - EPIC BREWING RIO'S ROMPIN' RYE BEER - Excellent, one of the best rye beers on the market, liquified rye bread with lemon.
|"We are wild and crazy guys!"|
Saturday 7/5 – Torrance, Redondo, Hermosa Beach mini beer tour
1286 - ABSOLUTION BREWING WANDERING POSSESSED COCONUT PORTER - Decent, one of the better ones, one of three I sort of liked. We had 10 samplers, one I forgot I had already tried at the SD Int'l Beer Fest. I really want to support independent brewers, especially locals. Absolution has a great facility & everything in place to be a contender, but their beers across the board are bland, watery, and lacking depth. I hope they get an experienced brewmaster in-house to turn this ship around.
1287 - ABSOLUTION BREWING HOLY COW MILK STOUT - Fair.
1288 - ABSOLUTION BREWING POSSESSED PORTER - Pretty good, like a lighter English style porter.
1289 - ABSOLUTION BREWING FALLEN ARCHANGEL IPA - Not a good IPA.
1290 - ABSOLUTION BREWING THE WICKED DOUBLE IPA - Fair, one of their "better" brews
1291 - ABSOLUTION BREWING LIL RED ANGEL SESSION RED IPA - No.
1292 - ABSOLUTION BREWING LIL ANGEL SESSION IPA - No.
1293 - ABSOLUTION BREWING CLOISTERED RED - No.
1294 - ABSOLUTION BREWING PENANCE PALE - No.
1295 - ALESMITH BREWING SPEEDWAY STOUT - Enjoyed it with brunch on Redondo Beach Pier. I want to make love to this beer.
1296 - ABIGAILE BREWERY ILLUMINATI PILS - This place has out of place punk themed artwork, and the menu descriptions are straight out of the Guy Fieri School Of Douchebaggery, but their beer is superior and well worth the trip, especially considering I've rarely seen their brews on tap outside of the restaurant in Hermosa Beach.
1297 - ABIGAILE BREWERY HOPS N RYE - Lighter mix of both, easy drinking, highly carbonated, burp inducing.
1298 - ABIGAILE BREWERY CACOPHONY IPA - Incredible hop bomb, slightly sweet, skunky and citrusy.
1299 - ABIGAILE BREWERY THE SYNERGIST BELGIAN DUBBEL - A dark and delicious Belgian style dubbel, malty and deeply rich.
1300 - KING HARBOR BREWING THE QUEST EL DORADO - Mellow, well-balanced pale with El Dorado hops.
1302 - KING HARBOR BREWING CALIFORNIA SAISON - Funky farmhouse ale, with a hint of curry.
1303 - KING HARBOR BREWING ABEL BROWN - Roasty perfection.
1304 - KING HARBOR BREWING CASKABEL WITH CHIPOTLE ON CASK - Brown ale with chipotle added, on cask, really nice, I'm a sucker for chile beers these days, this is no exception, well rounded.
1305 - MONKISH BREWING ANOMALY – Dark, strong ale, perfection.
1306 - MONKISH BREWING SHAOLIN FIST – A spiced dubbel, would be better around the Holidays.
1307 - MONKISH BREWING SEME DELLA VITA – Belgian style tripel with pistachios & vanilla beans, sounds odd, but damn good.
1308 - MONKISH BREWING ST. SIMCOE – All simcoe hops in a citrusy pale.
1309 - MONKISH BREWING ST. LIBERTY – All liberty hops in a dry hopped pale.
1310 - MONKISH BREWING SAISON DE LILAH – Saison with lavender, sounds super frou-frou, but it’s tasty. No, really.
1311 - MONKISH BREWING POUR TOI – Pour moi? C’est bon! Well rounded pale ale. Monkish knows what the hell they’re doing, it turns out.