Well, the day started out at Brighton Beach. I had heard about a new "beer garden" right on the boardwalk so I decided to check it out before heading to a Cyclones game later in the evening.
Le Soleil Draft Barn
Beer garden might be a bit of a stretch, but it is a nice outdoor area for drinking beer. It is the outdoor portion of Wintergarden, one of several Russian eateries along the boardwalk. The interior is still Wintergarden, but one of the waitresses says that it will convert in the winter so the whole place will be Le Soleil Draft Barn.
They have a nice selection of beers. I think they have about 120 different beers in bottles, mostly imported, and maybe a dozen or so on draft.
A Couple Of Cold Ones
I had a BrouCzech Lager and it really hit the spot. It is brewed in Nova Paka, in the Czech Republic and the history of the brewery kind of goes back to the 13th century. Kind of, because although beer was brewed in Nova Paka back then, that brewery is long gone, having burnt down several times over a 600 year period. In 1871 a new brewery and malt house was built and that one is still brewing the beer.
The beer is 5% ABV and pours with a nice white head. It is dark gold and has a pleasant malty smell with a whiff of hops. A good combination of the sweetness of the malt and the bitterness of the hops. The sweetness is what lingers on the palate. It comes in a 23 ounce bottle and went for a very reasonable six bucks.
Enjoying My Cold One
The Mysterious Chinese Woman prefers the summer white beers and they had a good one, a St. Berardus Witbier. This is a Belgium beer and, although it looked lighter, it was actually a bit stronger than mine, 5.5% ABV.
It was a cloudy yellow, kind of the color of straw. It had a lemony spice smell to it and tasted the same. Very refreshing and quite perfect for sitting almost on the beach. It was a bit pricier than mine at nine bucks a bottle, but nothing is too good for the Mysterious Chinese Woman. Just ask her. And they served it in the appropriate tulip glass.
We sat there and enjoyed our beers while watching the little kids play with their toy trucks on the beach.
My Turn, My Turn
And you could just enjoy watching the people walk by.
Or, At Least, I Could
They also have very good food here. Wintergarden always had, in my opinion, pretty good food, as do all of the Russian restaurants on this stretch of the boardwalk. We had shrimp and mussels and they were simply delicious. At $12 they weren't cheap, but well worth the price.
A Tasty Beer And Beach Treat
After finishing up our beers (I had two) we headed on down the boardwalk towards where the Cyclones would be playing. I was somewhat happy to see that the new rides in the space formerly occupied by Astroland were doing well and looked nice.
The New Steeplechase Park
But, of course, I had Ruby's on my mind.
Best Beach Dive Bar In The World
The place just continues to get more run down because, with the uncertain lease status, the owners don't want to sink any money into fixing it up. They are down to just one bathroom now, but at least it is fairly clean. And for the price of my beer at Le Soleil Draft Barn, here you got a Sam Adams out of the bottle. If you wanted a glass it would be plastic.
Hey, Sam Adams Is Good Too
I will be sad to see this place go, but I am afraid Ruby's days are numbered. It does keep hanging on, though and, in my opinion, really does deserve a landmark status. They just don't build them like this anymore.
My next stop was the Freak Bar, adjacent to a modern version of a freak show. No more pinheads and bearded ladies, but you still have heavily tatooed fire eaters, sword swallowers and contortionists.
The Freak Bar
They even have a small brewery next to the place but you can't tour it. You can only buy souvenirs.
A Brewery Lurks Within
Now, in my opinion, Freak Bar is even more of a dive than Ruby's. Kind of like something you might find in a relatives basement. Minimal is the word.
A Bare Bones Bar
This stuff on top of the beer cooler is about the extent of their decorating. But at least I know where that monkey from "Toy Story 3" ended up.
How Far The Mighty Do Fall
The only reason Freak Bar doesn't qualify as the world's best beach dive bar is that it isn't that close to the beach. It is in that still kind of seedy area of Coney Island. The parts that make Coney Island what it is today.
Just Off The Beach
Being A Blockhead, I Had The Blockhead
I shouldn't have ordered this one. Not only is it a hefty 10% ABV, it is a heavy Russian stout type of beer and not really suitable for a day at the beach. Although being in Freak Bar you don't really feel like you are anywhere near a beach. It is more reminiscent of the East Village in Manhattan back in the good-old-days when it was dangerous. Well, the East Village is still dangerous, but now it is because of the strollers banging you in the ankles, not because of the drug-dealers and casual muggings.
After finishing up my beer we headed over to Peggy O'Neill's for our pre-game party.
Party, Party, Party
They had the standard pre-game fair, the always popular cheeseburgers, beans and Budweiser.
A Bit Of A Pre-Game Nosh
And the Mysterious Chinese Woman was ready for a bit of a snack.
Move It Along, I'm Hungry
More Of A Hotdog Person
And then we went to the game. It really is a nice looking ballpark.
The View From Our Seats
And the Cyclones beat the Muckdogs in extra innings so it was a perfect day.
Again, I want to say thanks to Sean Murphy of MurphGuide for inviting us and look forward to attending more of his events. They are always a fun time. If you are in the New York City area, you should make a point of checking it out to see what is going on.