Springtime in New York: Gingerman and Union Square Farmers Market

Earlier I went to the Union Square farmers market, and had to resist the urge to fill my backpack with the amazing array of veggies. All in-state producers, some of them organic, and all of them seasonal. No oranges here, just the first bitter greens and root vegetables, like potatoes. Oh the potatoes! It made my Irish heart sing.

Yes, even street vendors are on Twitter now.

Later, in my search for New Beer Distributors, I stumbled upon the Whole Foods on Bowery. Wow, is how I’d summarize my reaction. They had a completely separate beer section from the rest of the store, complete with a growler filling station. I nabbed a can of the Oskar Blues Gubna IPA, for a hefty 4 bucks. Someone checking out before me told me it was worth it. We shall see.

They also had these little bags of grains for brewing your own beer. They sell one gallon jugs with all you need to brew a tiny little batch of beer in your tiny little New York apartment. Cute.

I finished my trip by hitting up the Gingerman, a short walk down the street from Rattle N Hum. I’ve been to the Gingerman relatively late on a Saturday, and it was a wonder that we were ever served. When possible, sample the amazing beers at these great beer bars earlier in the day. Drink some water, eat some amazing cheap food, maybe take a nap. Then wake up ready to hit the town and brave the crowds. Of course you won’t receive the best of the best beer-wise, but that’s to be expected. Indeed, even if you did endeavor to try to find the diamonds in the rough amid the countless bars in Manhattan, you wouldn’t be able to sit and enjoy them with the frat boy next to you boasting about how many cars he bench. 

The first beer I tried was a cask ale from Two Brothers, called The Bitter End. Golden with some red tints, and a nice white head that ain’t goin’ nowhere. The aroma is amazingly hoppy, wonderful pine and citrus. The cask conditioning smooths the beer out, but the bitterness can’t be denied. Smooth and creamy, yet finishing dry and carrying a lot of the hop flavor with it. The bitterness isn’t acrid or harsh here at all, in fact, the hops sing mostly in the flavor alone. The malts are just sweet enough to counter some of the bitter from the hops. I can’t imagine this beer served any other way, this is absolutely perfect. Tons of hop aroma and flavor, with almost none of the hard, bitter, resin, and rot-got you would get with a normal IPA. I'm giving this one an enthusiastic A. 

I was on my way out, but noticed something interesting on the menu. Redstone Nectar of the Hops. Hops in mead? I had to try it. Definite honey aroma, a bit pungent and assertive. The body is medium light, finishing very dry. The honey sweetness is there in flavor, with some of the spice from the hops coming through. While I wouldn’t call it ‘bitter’ per se, the difference made by the hops is perceptible, while not overpowering. The herbal-ness of the hops seems to echo some of the floral elements of the honey. Overall a very clean mead, no off flavors from fermentation, indeed it’s crystal clear and quite dry. The floral notes of the honey itself are accented by the use of the hops, which impart both the herbal/floral elements and the slightly resinous bitterness. Interesting, to say the least. My favorite mead ever? Not really. I'll give it a B-.