Last weekend I ventured into Manhattan for a “beer event” at the Blind Tiger Ale House, located on Bleeker Street, just a half a block down from 7th Avenue. The bar is very understated from the outside and would be very easy to walk right past without knowing the treasures contained within. The treasures I’m referring to include the 28 beers on tap, 2 casks and 1 gravity fed. Even if that hardware wasn’t impressive enough, at least half of the beers that flow from these are very rare, hard to find ones. In addition to great beer, they also have a kitchen that serves traditional pub fare with a rather eclectic twist. The bar itself, while not being very large, can fit a lot of people comfortably. The bar is L-shaped with stools all along it and the walls have tables jutting out from them making for ample seating while leaving a large open area from standing or getting around. I also should mention the large double windows the tables along the front wall have. The weather was perfect the day I was there and sitting by these windows felt like I was outdoors enjoying it (just my way of justifying being in a bar on a beautiful Sunday afternoon).
The Blind Tiger is generally regarded as one of the top beer bars in NYC and attracts some of the best breweries in the country to hold events there. On the day I was there they were hosting Green Flash Brewing Co. from San Diego. This was actually the second time I attended a Green Flash event at the Blind Tiger and coincidentally enough, one of the guys I was with at the first one actually moved out to Cali and now works for them. There were about a dozen different Green Flash’s on tap, many being small batch stuff or aged kegs from the past few years, as well as their staples. I started out with a few of their ales that I had never tried before but wanted to switch it up after three or four. There was a stout on the beer list that I had been meaning to try since we go there called Silva Stout. It was a barrel-aged stout named after Green Flash’s brewmaster, Chuck Silva. The 10.1% alcohol was a little daunting considering it was, as I mentioned earlier, Sunday afternoon but after a little deliberation I ended up ordering five pints for myself and the other four people in my party. As the bartender poured the pints, the glasses transformed from clear glass to dark as night with a 2 inch mocha-colored head. The head didn’t even begin to fade even after all the glasses were walked back to the table. I held mine up to the open window and the additional light made no difference. There was no chance of light getting through this beer. There was an obvious smell of bourbon, that the beer must have pick up off the barrel it was aged in, combined with the smooth aromas of chocolate and coffee. The taste still contained the sweetness of chocolate and slight bitterness of coffee but the bourbon taste didn’t transfer as well. There was still a detectable heat from the alcohol but the oak flavor I was expecting from the bourbon wasn’t there. The beer was delicious and I was excited to be drinking it, however, I feel it may have been more enjoyable on a cooler fall or winter night rather than a sunny Sunday afternoon.
After a few sips, the owner of Green Flash, Mike Hinkley, actually joined us at our table and started up a conversation. As I mentioned before, a friend of mine had started working at the brewery and another friend that was with me on this trip had just visited the brewery a few months earlier so we instantly had a good place to start our conversation. Green Flash is currently in the process of moving into a new brewery and so that was a big part of the conversation. Mike proudly showed us pictures of fermentation tanks being delivered and expressed excitement parallel to a proud father showing off a newborn baby. He even bought us a round of Le Freaks, a Belgium-style IPA, which was nice to switch back and forth to from the stout.
After the day we had, there was a lot of discussion about visiting San Diego in the near future to check out the new brewery. That, and the prospect of surfing in the Pacific, would be the only two draws to visit SoCal for me, since I’m not really a warm weather person. Let me finish out this review by giving you a little information about the origin of the name Blind Tiger. During prohibition, as we all know, there were still establishments that you could illegally buy alcohol at. The most common name used for a place like this was speakeasy. What many people don’t know is that speakeasies were usually reserved for the upper class and would often require a jacket and tie be worn by men and evening gowns for women. The bars designated for the lower class there were commonly referred to as “blind pigs” or “blind tigers”. They got this name because the patrons would pay to see some sort of rare animal or other sideshow-esque thing and would be given a complimentary alcoholic beverage. This was their way of attempting to circumvent the alcohol ban. I thought this was a fun fact and wanted to share it with my readers. Let me know of any beer events in New Jersey or New York you come across and maybe we can set up a trip for Happy Hour & Brewery readers to get together. Kippis!