My first thought was to sign up for a tour of the Brooklyn Brewery, but unfortunately our visit landed on a Tuesday and tours were weekend only...
Not to be deterred, I surfed over to Beer Advocate and turned up this list. Someone needs to check it for selection bias, because if we accept it as valid, 6 of the top 13 beer bars in America are located in the Big Apple, including the one I chose - David Copperfield's. And, no, the bar has absolutely nothing in common with the illusionist of the same name.
I was drawn to David Copperfield's for two reasons. First, it was the easiest pub for me to reach using public transportation. Second, I'm a sucker for literary association. David Copperfield was a character from a Charles Dickens novel of the same name. The story is supposed to be autobiographical in nature - a mistreated youth perseveres to become a successful author - though I haven't read it. (Dickens never grew on me, though I do remember enjoying Great Expectations in high school.)
In any case, Copperfield's was cozy and comfortable, with marble bar tops, a quality juke box (Motown dominated the airwaves during my visit), and a friendly staff; in fact, while I was tasting and jotting down notes, the bartender, Andrea (from New Jersey), asked what I was up to. When I told her about my little blog, she was intrigued. When I mentioned that my wife blogged about food, she was even more intrigued, noting that she and her sister were planning to make ravioli from scratch that evening. (NOTE: I was totally okay with the fact that she was more interested in the food blog than the beer blog.)
The draught list at Copperfield's is extensive (30 on tap), and the bottle lineup includes many of my favorites, such as Jolly Pumpkin's Bam Biere and Samuel Smith's Nut Brown. The balanced offering included everything from the tried and true classics (Anchor's Liberty Ale) to the truly bizarre (Dogfish Head's Palo Santo Marron).
As it was a hot July afternoon, I was in the mood for a saison, and first sampled Southern Tier's Cherry Saison. This tart and tinny ale was copper in color and had a simultaneously sour and boozy flavor. The head dissipated almost instantly. On the whole, the beer left me unsatisfied.
I ended up with a pint of Sorachi Ace (another saison) from Brooklyn Brewery; so in a way, I ended up getting an abridged version of the brewery tour I'd been aiming for. The beer was released in July, and is only available on draft near the NYC area.
Sorachi Ace Saison (6.5% ABV)
New York, NY
Appearance: An almost pinkish hued, golden colored ale. Fluffy, proportionate (i.e. the right amount) head.
Aroma: Lemon/citrus with a yeasty backdrop.
Taste: The Japanese hops mingling with the Belgian yeast gave the beer a smooth, sweet, yet crisp flavor. I first tasted a bubble-gumminess, that moved to a clove/fruitiness. Each sip yielded a slightly different and pleasurable flavor. Complex and enjoyable.
Overall Impression: This was a truly unique beer - complex enough to beguile the taste buds, yet light and clean enough to satisfy without demanding much attention. It drank lighter than its 6.5% ABV, and, if you can find a keg, it would be the perfect choice for a Labor Day BBQ.