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Beerin’ It Up in the Big Apple

Craft Beer Brewery, Pubs, Inns and Ale Houses in New York City

Merideth Canham-Nelson
Photos: Lee Nelson

From the hip and modern to the dusty and historic, New York City’s beer scene is top notch.

Manhattan needs no introduction. For decades, people have been drawn to the bright lights of Broadway and the bustle of Times Square. And now there’s one more attraction in this world-class city: a world-class beer scene.

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My husband Chris and I explored some of Manhattan’s many craft beer establishments. Here’s how we beer’d it up in the Big Apple.

Chelsea Brewing

Entrance to Pier 59 and Chelsea BrewingFrom Times Square we took the subway to Chelsea Brewing. The only brewery in Manhattan, Chelsea offers something for everyone.
In pleasant temperatures, the outdoor seating area, which overlooks the Hudson River, provides a comfortable spot to enjoy a pint of Checker Cab Blonde Ale and a delicious specialty wrap.
Chelsea Brewing interior and copper tanksWhen the weather turns cooler, find a seat at the bar and admire the beautiful copper serving tanks or watch sports on one of several televisions.
In addition to their regular line up of beers, Chelsea Brewing rotates an American wheat beer inspired by the fruit of the season. During our August trip, the brewery featured their Raspberry Wheat.
Chris enjoyed the Hop Angel IPA with a freshly baked pretzel, served with mustard and cheese sauces. Chelsea’s menu features much more than pub food, including empanadas, large salads, and a sliced steak sandwich.
From Times Square, take the A-C-E line to the 14th Street station. Exit near the intersection of West 16th St. and 8th Ave. and walk west 10 minutes on West 16th. Turn right on 11th Ave. to the entrance of Pier 59.

Ear Inn

Ear Inn at 326 Spring Street in New York CityFrom Chelsea Brewing, we walked 30 minutes along the waterfront to the Ear Inn. Housed in the historic James Brown House, the pub’s previous incarnations include a brewery, brothel, and smuggler’s den.
The dark cozy interior provided us a cool reprieve from the hot August air. I imagine this same coziness provides much needed warmth in the cold winter months.
Ear Inn interiorThe wooden bar, worn from years of use, and the antique cash register added authenticity to its claim as Manhattan’s oldest bar.
From the East Coast beer selection, I chose Brooklyn Brewing’s cool and refreshing Lager. The Ear Inn also serves food, including daily specials.
From Chelsea Brewing, follow along the water on West Street and turn left on Spring Street.

Blind Tiger Ale House

Blind Tiger Ale House, 281 Bleeker St. at Jones in ManhattanA 15-minute walk from the Ear Inn is Blind Tiger Ale House in Greenwich Village. With 30 taps and a list of over 70 bottled beers, Blind Tiger accurately proclaims itself “New York’s premiere showcase for craft beer.”
Intimate and familiar, Blind Tiger’s wooden floor, high-beamed ceiling and fireplace are reminiscent of a winter cabin. The food menu is equally comforting with an old school grilled cheese sandwich and my personal favorite, Mama’s deviled eggs.
Blind Tiger Ale House interiorThe seemingly endless beer menu made it difficult to choose. In the end, we shared a large bottle of Squall IPA from Dogfish Head Brewing.
Whether you’re with friends at a tall bistro table or by yourself along the windows people watching, Blind tiger is a comfortable place to try new beers. Be sure to check their website for brewer nights and other special events.
From The Ear Inn, head east on Spring Street to Greenwich and turn left. Turn right on Morton Street and left at Bleeker.

Rattle N Hum

Rattle N Hum on E 3rd St. in ManhattanWe finished our night at Rattle N Hum, a multi-tap brew house located two blocks from the Empire State building. Rattle N Hum is a hip, fast paced place that lives up to its name. Be prepared for loud and crowded, as this establishment is popular.
Rattle N Hun chalkboard listing craft beersThe extensive beer menu can be a challenge, but good craft beer is guaranteed.
Unfamiliar with craft beer? No problem. A large chalkboard lists craft alternatives to many of the macro-brewed beers.
In one of the better deals we found in NYC, Rattle N Hum served pork sliders 3 for $6. I enjoyed them with Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat. They host events highlighting specific breweries, serve growlers for beer to go, and offer home delivery for food only.

McSorley’s Old Ale House

McSorley's Old Ale House at 15 E 7th Street in NYCOne final suggestion is a visit to McSorley’s Old Ale House. This historic ale house, established in 1854, is NYC’s oldest continuously operating saloon.
McSorley's Old Ale House dusty interiorThe beer, light and dark, comes in half-pint mugs and is priced per pair.
You could spend hours examining over 150 years worth of dust-covered tchotchkes at McSorley's Old Ale House. Learning about history was never so much fun.
From the hip and modern to the dusty and historic, Manhattan’s beer scene is top notch. There are many ways to beer it up in the Big Apple, so go out there and find your own beer adventure.
Beer travelers for over 18 years, Merideth and her husband Chris chronicle their brew-inspired adventures on the website
Slideshow—all photos on this page

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Website and all photos copyright © 2001–2016 Lee W. Nelson