January 17, 2013

It's important for those of us "in the know" to keep one's ear to the ground, to stay abreast of all the beer-related happenings—or should I say "hoppenings"—around New York. I subscribe to a couple of urban blogs that very occasionally let me know about a new joint that may worthy of a DNO excursion. Of course, I am not alone in this endeavor; my tapmates frequently contribute new finds.

Houston Hall was just such a place. This brand new joint had only been open two weeks at the time of our visit. When I say "new," I mean it had been newly converted to a drinking establishment. From the looks of it, it had recently been a parking garage, perhaps for a fleet of limos or taxis. Upon arrival, I had to wait in line on the snowy sidewalks for a chance to enter this trendy new sudshouse. (Hard to believe, I know, but even beer cognoscenti like myself have to wait in lines occasionally.)

After about twenty-five minutes, they finally let me in to join Daniel and David, already in progress. I started with the house Dunkel, which to me was really more like an amber ale. It had none of the crispness of a lager. There was nothing wrong with it, mind you; it just wasn't my thing. David had the Saison which he found to be much better than the ESB he started out with. Dan calmly enjoyed his Witbier. The place had lots and lots of eye-candy, but it was crowded and unbelievably noisy! There was no acoustic treatment whatsoever, so sound had nowhere to go except return in the form of loud "walla."

Gotta give it the trendy thing, though. The place had HUGE (literally) potential. It's hard to gauge whether it was crowded because of the novelty factor or this was really a smashing new joint. I think we deserve to try it again, after the buzz has worn off a little. On our way out the door, we ran into Paul T. coming in with some associates. Small world.

We moved on to Amity Hall. As you may recall, our brief visit her at our last DNO in September, was a bit of a misfire (plastic cups?!?). On this wintery night, it was a totally different story!

"P" Joined us. I started off with a Leffe Blonde, which was good, but unexceptional. Dan went with Brooklyn Brewery's There Will be Black, a really heavy beer at 7.5% ABV. Naturally, it was served in a girly-glass. Dan & David next went with the Lion's Head Pilsener. I took a sip and all I could think was "Where's the flavor?"

We had a nice and attentive waitress. My next brew was the Brooklyn "Black." It was very dry—but surprisingly—light! A very nice beer with a slight orangey note. "P" had the Ommegang Belgian Independence Tripel. Wow! Quite tasty & yeasty. Very nice! Dan was good with another Black.

I next tried the fittingly-named Alesmith Horny Devil. It is amazingly balanced for a beer that weighs in at 11% ABV! It's hoppy, but not at all bitter. Dan went with a Goose Island Christmas Ale (7.3%?). I was really starting to feel the 11% work its magic on my synapses. I noticed that it was freaking loud in this joint, too! It didn't help that an otherwise attractive woman had a laugh like a donkey braying. Speaking of donkeys braying, news of Lance Armstrong's admission of doping poured out of the TV newscasts like Bud Light at a keg party.

My last official act of the night was to savor an Ommegang Belgian Tripel. Life is good.

Houston Hall
222 W. Houston St.,
New York NY 10014
(212) 645-3400

Amity Hall
80 West 3rd Street,
New York, NY 10012
(212) 677-2290

Houston Hall: Noisy, Crowded, but, oh, the decor!

David and "P" waxing poetic

Where's the flavor, Dan? Where's the flavor?!?

Two good looking guys

Two good looking guys after some more beer

Dan and David sharing brotherly love

Belgian Independence Tripel

I am very sorry to report about the passing of our beloved brother Robert (third from left, below) in October. I had spoken to him about six weeks before his passing and he was, as always, irrepressibly optimistic and full of good humor, depsite a bleak prognosis of lymphoma. He was a fantastic story teller and the warmest, most kind-hearted person you could hope to meet. He was utterly devoted to his wife and two young daughters and he will be deeply missed by all that knew him.

The Top Hops Crew