My search for the best beer in New York continues….
The speakeasy trend has become somewhat of a cliché in New York. It seems that any restaurant or bar with an unmarked storefront can be called a speakeasy. Just don’t raise a sign at your establishment and you’ll be hidden and hip. The days of legitimate secret phone numbers or exclusive reservations are practically a thing of the past (once again). And aside from 124 Old Rabbit Club, the trend has not reached the craft beer world. Until now.
Proletariat isn’t really hiding itself (the door is wide open), but you certainly have to know it’s there. This very narrow and small bar is nestled inside another shop in the East Village. You have to walk into the brightly colored Jane’s Sweet Buns, pass the yeasty aromas, act as if you know where you’re going, and you will stumble upon this spot.
It’s dark, narrow, and small – just like any hidden drinking establishment should be. And the beer selection (at least for their draft options) is rather limited. But it’s limited to rare and unusual brews from around the world. They also offer two beer cocktails which they make themselves and then serve on tap. I almost went that route, but noticed a beer from Greenport Harbor that I had never encountered before.
You know I’ve been drinking beer too long when I read the name Big Tipa as an IPA with a T in front of it. What is a T-IPA? Is it a Triple IPA? The bartender had to point out the obvious that this should be pronounced as one who tips a lot of money – big tipa, get it? The bartender sure hoped I did.
But Triple IPA could be appropriate too as this was a very strong hoppy beer which uses only noble hops. It was tough to tell with the lack of light, but the beer had a golden yellowish hue with an impressive full head. The nose exploded with lots of aromatic qualities mainly from the hops, including grapefruit and fresh grass. I could sniff this thing all day. Except then I wouldn’t have tasted the piney hop punch up front with a mellow refined balance of honey and crispness at the back. The slightly syrupy beer had a surprisingly light body that doesn’t linger too much. I found it to be a quite approachable and mellow IPA that was full of aromas and flavor, but not overwhelming with the bitterness.
Proletariat is pretty cool. I found some of the prices quite expensive. I had a tough time ponying up $9 for a pint of beer regardless how obscure or strong it was. I also felt like the soundtrack of loud hip hop music was a little out of character for a bar of this nature. But the bartender was knowledgeable and generous and this is a place I’ll be returning to with friends very soon. And they might just need my help to find it. At least I’ll keep telling myself that.
Is Greenport Harbor’s Big Tipa the best beer in NYC? It’s a very approachable, but strong and bold IPA that might even appeal to those who are fearful of lots of hops. 9 out of 10.
|GREENPORT HARBOR BREWING COMPANY|
|102 St. Marks Place (between Avenue A and First Avenue),
Inside Jane’s Sweet Buns