Holiday Beers at Haymaker: Sip These Christmas Miracles One Ounce at a Time

My friends, Jimmy and Dee joined me for a tasting at Haymaker last week.

My friends, Jimmy and Dee joined me for a tasting at Haymaker Bar & Kitchen in Manhattan Wednesday evening.

“These aren’t your typical winter warmers,” Tristan Colegrove, bar manager and resident beer geek at Manhattan’s Haymaker Bar & Kitchen, told me as he placed a neat row of six Christmas beers on the bar in front of me. As is proven par the course at Haymaker since its inception in October, the beer bar and gastropub is doing the “seasonal” thing a little differently.

December is winding down its final days, but Colegrove is ramping up his repertoire by including more impressive beers on the sophisticated list than ever before.

Yes, he has De Dolle Stille Nacht, the slightly sweet, boozy Belgian Strong Pale Ale that beer bars clamor to have on tap each holiday season—but then, so do Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village and Brouwerij Lane in Greenpoint.

True, he’s managed to get his hands on two rival brothers’ very different takes on winter ale: Mikkeller Winbic, a blended Spontan Ale and saison from Denmark that you won’t find anywhere else in the city (imported by the Shelton Brothers) and Brooklyn-based Evil Twin‘s Xmas Eve in a NYC Hotel Room, an imperial stout that’s oily, delightfully dry and delicious without being aggressively spiced—but the latter can be found all over Brooklyn.

What really stumped me on the menu — even among such stuff that beverage managers’ and drinkers’ dreams are made of (Prairie Christmas Bomb! Chesterfield Dreams by Other Half and Garage Brewery in Barcelona!) — was La Vermontoise. Continue reading

Beer Judging and the Battle of the Belgians at Jimmy’s No. 43

A lineup of secret Belgian and Belgian-style brews awaited our expert palates.

Battle of the Belgians: our beer expert panel judged a total of 28 Belgian and Belgian-style brews.

On a recent morning, Jimmy’s No. 43 owner, Jimmy Carbone reached out to me with a trifecta of good news: he had read and thoroughly enjoyed a feature I had written for Ale Street News on beer web series; he invited me to join him on an upcoming episode of his internet radio show, Beer Sessions Radio, recorded at Roberta’s in Brooklyn for the Heritage Radio Network; and he asked if I’d like to join the beer judging panel at his restaurant for the sixth annual Battle of the Belgians competition to be held that Saturday. Naturally, I accepted. Continue reading