Craft Beer: Special occasion offers chance to sample some of New York's finest

Beer Authority – so good, they named it twice

HITTING a big age milestone and having a wife of impeccable taste, I was fortunate to be treated to a trip to New York last week. Of course the beer nut in me was never going to pass up the chance to sample a wide range of transatlantic brews and I headed to the Big Apple with palpable excitement.

The craft beer scene in the States is decades old, but the new wave means its growth shows no signs of abating, with a new brewery opening every five minutes, or something like that, in NYC alone.

The first port of call was the Beer Authority, so named as it was slap bang in the middle of Manhattan transit hub Port Authority. It boasts around 90 beers on tap and about the same in bottles. I'd checked the beerlist online beforehand and knew what I came for – Raspberry Halo, a 13.6 per cent imperial stout from Cigar City. It was rich, sweet, treacley with dark chocolate notes – a bit of a Raspberry Ruffle of a stout.

It was strong and vinous which is why only half a pint of it came served, by a barman from Annaclone, Co Down incidentally, in a wine glass. After that, a straight up IPA was called for and a welcome one was served up from Brooklyn-based Five Boroughs Brewing. The fragrant piney, grapefruity brew hit the spot.

Of course, when the acclaimed best bar in the world is an Irish pub in lower Manhattan, I just had to go and see what all the fuss is about. The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog certainly has the theme down to a tee, from the sawdust on the floor to the flat caps hanging on the wall.

The wall of whiskeys is mostly decorative too, as many are too rare to risk running out of. Anyway, I came for beer and didn’t come all this way to settle for a pint of Guinness. So I tried Six Points Sweet Action, a 5 per cent cream ale which was smooth, sweet with a oh so subtle hoppy finish.

I even managed to cram in a whistlestop trip to Brooklyn Brewery, but more on that next week as there’s just not enough New York to get into one column.

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