Thursday, April 15, 2010

Well Shucks, No Clams

We hung out at The Gate until late afternoon and then decided we should head to the Brazen Head for the Clam and Oyster Shuck.  But, alas, our will power was weak and there are so many bars between The Gate and the Brazen Head.  What could we do?

Okay, the first one was kind of my fault.  Being from Minnesota and having spent some time in Duluth I thought it might be fun to stop into Great Lakes.


HOMES is how you can remember the names of the Great Lakes: Huron, Onatrio, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.

Great Lakes is a neat little neighborhood bar that isn't all gentrified up in a neighborhod that is getting to be quite gentrified.

Just The Basics

Jim did spot a Deer Hunter or Buck Shooter or something or another game and spent his time honing his hunting skills.

Aim For The Heart

We almost couldn't find the bartender.

Hard To Spot

It was the camoflage shirt that she was wearing that made seeing her difficult.  That and the dim light.

From there we continued to head in the general direction of the Brazen Head, but on the way we passed an old favorite of mine, O'Connor's.  The awning with their name on it was gone, but the place looked open.  Or as open as it ever looks.


I have been into this bar a number of times over the years and it has remained unchanged.  Unfortunately, it never seems to do much of a business.  But it does have its followers.  It really is one of the last of the old-time Irish bars and still serves relatively cheap beers and drinks.  Relative to all of the other fancier bars that have sprung up around here.

Pretty Bare

But not to worry, we brought our own party.

Just Need Hats And Horns

For some reason after we left here Greg said he wondered where you could get good falafal.  I said that in my opinion you got the best falafal from the street vendors.  He said he was kind of hungry for some and then, just like a miracle, What should appear?

The Falafal Stand

Well, when life hands you a falafal stand you eat falafals.

Really Not Much Of A Choice

For some reason, and don't ask me why because I like falafal, I decided to have a hotdog.

Buckng The Crowd

I am not sure what Jim had, but he is fearful of radiation so he wrapped it in aluminum foil.

Take That, Captain Gamma Ray

You should see the neat little aluminum foil pyramid that he sleeps in at night.  And his cute little aluminum foil pajamas with the bunny feet.

But I digress.  There was only one thing left standing between us and the Brazen Head at this point, Hank's Saloon.

How Could We Not Stop

I have written about Hank's Saloon many times in the past.  It is a classic honky tonk saloon and old-time dive bar during the day.  This is a place you go to if you are going to do some serious drinking.

Looking The Part

I don't think we really did much serious drinking here, but then we had been drinking all day.  The fact that we even got here was pretty serious.

But, we had someplace to go and, by golly, we went.

At Last, The Brazen Head

Well, as you can imagine, by the time we got there all of the oysters and clams had been shucked and eaten.  The only thing left was some clam chowder for a buck.  Nobody seemed to mind, though.  We just settled in and did what we did best, have a drink.

Doing What Comes Naturally

It had been a pretty long day for Bar Man, he isn't as young as he once was.  The Mysterious Chinese Woman, Jim and I toddled off home but Michelle, Greg and Paq were going to catch the subway back to Manhattan and hit Otto's Shrunken Head.  Now that is a great place, a somewhat divey zombie bar.  And late at night you can find a zombie on both sides of the bar.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cask Festival At The Gate

Ah, nothing like a good Cask Festival to get Bar Man's heart beating a bit faster.  And The Gate brings back many a good memory.  That was bar number 500 on my journey towards 1000 back, can it really be that long ago, in 2005.  It was also where I met Larry McShane who worked for the Associate Press at the time and wrote a really nice article about my quest.  It seemed to get a lot of play in the press and that was where I first started to get a lot of hits on my blog.  As a result I started to add pictures and write more than my previous terse descriptions of the bars I visited.  But, I digress.

The Gate

I just took this next shot because it seemed somehow "artistic."

The Artist Within, Way Within

The festival was supposed to start at 1:00 PM, but when we got there, shortly after that, the place was still locked up.

Waiting For The Doors To Open

I guess just the few of us who were standing in line showed up that early.  The regulars probably knew they don't really open when they say they are going to.

Empty Tables

To be fair aboout it, I think the doors probably opened about 1:15 PM.  And I could see the guy in there setting up the ales.

Finally the doors opened and I quickly bought my tickets and ordered my first ale of the day, The Bruery 'Saison de Lente'.

Ah, The First Pull Of The Day

The beer was a pale yellow, honey-like color and was a bit hoppy, but not overpoweringly so.  A nice one to quench the thirst of the long walk to the place.

The fellow pouring the beers is Alex Hall.  His primary job is the selling and installing of the equipment so that a bar can serve cask ales.  However, he has also been running Cask Ale Festivals since 1996 in the United Kingdom and since 2003 in New York.  In fact, I think I was at the first one he ran here.  He said it was at The Brazen Head and I am pretty sure I went to that one.

Alex Hall, Cask Ale Expert

Alex said his business sellling and installing the cask ale delivery systems has been good and that cask ales were becoming increasingly popular.  That is good, because I like to have a cask ale available when I want one.  Not that I would drink them all night long, usually, or drink them every night.  But still, when you want one, you want one.

Alex is also running the upcoming one at dba Brooklyn in Williamsburg on May 7th - 9th and, of course, the one at The Brazen Head on May 30th - April 2nd.  He is also running one on June 4th - 6th near Brighton, England where he is going to have 68 cask ales and 12 cask ciders.  Now that would be a festival I would like to go to.

Bar Man At The Bar

The Mysterious Chinese Woman Too

I had bought a Pretty Things 'Fluffy White Rabbit' for the Mysterious Chinese Woman because it sounded kind of girly.  Well, not really.  It is a pretty hefty 8.5% ABV, for starters.  The one I had was a relatively more reasonable 6.5% ABV.  And her beer was quite hoppy.  In fact they called it a "hoppy triple," whatever that meant.  Anyway, the Mysterious Chinese Woman doesn't really like hops all that much so we ended up switching our ales.

But really, the point of a Cask Ale Festival is to try out a lot of different cask ales.

Just Doing My Job

Actually, by this time I had more people to help me out.  Michelle, who is a faithful follower of my blog and charter member of the Beer Party™ showed up with a couple of friends.

Paq, Greg, and Michelle Joined Us

And who do you think was there to take our picture?

My Dear Brother-In-Law Jim

He is such a shrinking violet that it is hard to draw him into a conversation.  It was good that the rating of the beers encouraged social interaction.

Jim And Paq Studying Their Notes

Paq, Greg And Michelle Doing Due Dilligence

As you can see, we were taking this very seriously.

Just One More

I am proud to say that between us we sampled all of the cask ales that were available.  That was eleven out of twelve because they were out of the Ballast Point 'Sculpin I.P.A..'  They did say it was a limited supply.  That and the fact that Ratebeer gave it a score of 100 and Beer Advocate rated it an A probably led to its early demise.

Needless to say, I can't remember everything about everything I drank, but a couple of what I drank did deserve special attention.

The Bear Republic 'Racer X' was quite hoppy and had a bit of a sweet honey taste.  I thought the Jolly Pumpkin 'Bam Noire' was a bit on the sour side, but not unpleasantly so.  Maybe "tart" would be a better word than "sour."  The Lagunitas 'Brown Shugga' I have had before, at the Atlantic Chip Shop, I believe.  In the context of all the other beers we were drinking it was almost too heavy and sweet.  It is a dangerous 9.8% ABV too.  And the Trogs 'Nugget Nectar' had an amazingly fresh hops smell and flavor.  That is the way I like my hops, when they add a lot of flavor and not just bitterness.

We had a great old time and our day wasn't over.  Our final destination was going to be the Oyster and Clam Shuck at The Brazen Head.  But I will save that for my next post.

Oh, and the place really did fill up as the day wore on.

Standing Room Only