It's the first day of spring. It's been a hell of a winter with 50+ inches of snow and some stupidly cold days. So you can imagine my delight with a mild 50° day and plentiful sunlight even at 6:30 PM when I start my journey.
My destination was The Ginger Man, a midtown beer bar that's popular with the office crowd. This type of place is too crowded for me and the dads. Getting a beer is a major challenge and having a good conversation is difficult because of crowd noise. Still, the tap selection here is excellent, and for reasons known only to science, this crowd tends to stand, so David and I are able to snab the two most comfortable arm chairs in the joint. Soom the after-work crowd thinned out and was replaced by the mellower and much more tolerable night-on-the-town crowd.
I started with an Allagash White (5.0% ABV), an unfiltered witbier from Portland, Maine with the classic Hoegaarden-style spicing of coriander and Curacao orange peel. I've had this many times and it does not disappoint today, although it is slightly more bitter than I remember. David went with the Flying Dog Mango Habañero IPA (7.0% ABV). This had a very subtle pepper bite to it—more noticeable in the aftertaste—that was really nice. A very well-balanced IPA with no one flavor dominating.
Next up for me, was Brewery Ommegang's Chocolate Indulgence Stout (7.0% ABV). This is a big, rich, smoky, stout! It's made with chocolate malt, that is, barley malt that is roasted to a chocolate-brown color. Some claim that this gives the beer a chocolate taste, but I don't see it myself. It is, however, a great beer nonetheless. Unlike a dry stout, such as Guinnness, the inclusion of Belgian-style yeast give Chocolate Indulgence a lightness with somewhat fruity notes.
At this point in time, three wonderful things happened: The bar crowd thinned to a manageable level; we started getting table service from a waitress; and, Kevin showed up! I went for a Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale (6.7% ABV). This is a beer that routinely sits in my fridge. It's easy to get and it tastes great. Brown Ale is one of my favorite beer styles and I prefer Smutty to Newcastle Brown Ale. Tonight though, it's not standing out for me. There are better things on the tap menu...
That better thing turned out to be Kentucky Bourbon Barrel-Aged English Ale by Lexington Brewery of Kentucky. Rated at a whopping 8.19% ABV, it was easily the strongest beer we each had. Also strong was the Bourbon flavor: The barrels must have still been wet when they filled them with beer! This was surprisingly smooth and mellow. Kevin also tried the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout, which was nice, but lacked the bold Bourbon flavor of the English Ale.
All in all, another great Dad's Night Out. Can't wait for the warmer weather to arrive!
The Ginger Man
11 East 36th Street
New York, NY 10016