Monthly Archives: June 2011

A new local craft brew about to hit NYC

The following article is from, written by Hugh Merwin.

Steve Nallen is a Woodlawn native and a history buff. Three years ago, he says, he was thinking about the old-school roots of Astoria’s Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden and trying to figure out how to revive the beer-garden tradition in the Bronx, when he stumbled across the story of Swedish settler Jonas Bronck, the borough’s namesake and OG home brewer. “When I delved into the history of the family,” says Nallen, “there was a clear brewing history.” Bronck died in 1643, and found among his personal library and textile collection was a hodgepodge of rudimentary brewing equipment, maybe a satchel or two of wild yeast and some flasks. The beer may have even been a family recipe: In 1663, Bronck’s relative Pieter traveled north and opened a farm to table gastropub in upstate New York. After reading into this, Nallen started Facebook and Twitter accounts for Jonas Bronck and continued to chase the long-vanished trail of hops. He home-brewed using different formulas for a year and began turning out brews under the name Jonas Bronck’s Beer Company: first a crisp wheat beer made with German yeast called Woodlawn Weiss, followed up with the “smooth” Pelham Bay IPA.

After tweaking the flavors, 30-year-old Nallen has now assembled a basic sales team and found a distributor for his beer, which will be available on tap this weekend. He has turned over recipe formulation to a partner brewer and brewery located upstate, though he says he’d eventually like to bottle in the Bronx and is looking at spaces there. Perhaps the Manhattan-facing edge of the South Bronx, home to the Bruckner Bar & Grill and its new neighbor, the second, similarly named Bronx Brewery, will become the borough’s first new craft-beer corridor in a hundred years.

A rep from Union Beer, the company that will distribute the beer, says that the initial production order of just 37 Woodlawn Weiss kegs will be on their trucks tomorrow and will likely be tapped by Saturday. Woodlawn Weiss will roll out in fifteen locations, including Bierkraft in Park Slope and the Astoria Brewhouse in Queens; in Manhattan at P.J. Clarke’s, Good Beer, Rattle & Hum, and the Long Room. And, happily, the beer will also be found at Rambling House, Yankee Tavern, and the Bronx Ale House, all located in its namesake borough.

My comments: is looking forward to tasting these two new beers.  A Bronx craft beer corridor would make for a great NYC pub crawl.  Let’s all get out this weekend and try Woodlawn Weiss and soon, the Pelham Bay IPA.

How do you feel about this addition to the NYC craft beer scene?  Please share your thoughts here.

An afternoon of bar hopping in Williamsburg

On a recent afternoon, I decided it was time for another jaunt around Williamsburg to look for more bars to include on my next Williamsburg NYC bar crawl.

Anchored Inn (57 Waterbury Street at Scholes)

Just northeast of the Montrose Avenue L train stop in an Industrial section of East Williamsburg, The Anchored Inn is WAY off all of Williamsburg’s beaten paths.  A laid-back spot with a 12-person bar on the left and booths and hightop tables to the right, Anchored Inn has paintings over the bar and on the opposite wall and, as the name suggests, has a nautical theme (what is it with me visiting nautical themed bars of late?).  The bar serves six quality tap beers and 14 bottles and cans.  Most taps costs $6, which is a bit high for a bar this far off of Bedford Avenue.  Also a limited menu of bar snacks.  A good spot if you live nearby, but probably not worth going way out of your way for.

Bruekelen Bier Merchants (182 Grand Street, between Bedford and Driggs)

More of a beer store than a bar, this place offers dozens of bottled beers for sale and 16 beers tap beers sold by growler.  In addition, you can also buy the bottled or tap beers for on-premises consumption.  There are three picnic tables in the back and a small seating area in the front.  In between lies the bar and a small kitchen, which serves paninis, cheese plates and hot pretzels.   The bottled beer for sale in the coolers is sorted by region.  Going from left to right, the first cooler holds New England beer, the second cooler holds New York State beer, then mid-Atlantic, the south and the western U.S.  The last two coolers have beers from overseas.  The friendly staff informed me that a small outdoor area for tasting beer will be open later this summer.  Except Sunday when it closes at 8pm, the store is open everyday until at least 10pm.

Clem’s (264 Grand Street at Roebling)

Clem’s feels as though it has been around forever.  A well worn bar with dark wood takes up most of the space.  Taxidermy abounds above the bar.  Stools along the windows opposite the bar allow for patrons to people watch along the Roebling street side of the establishment.  There are a few outdoor seats available along Roebling as well.  There are ten quality tap beers, with all three Brooklyn breweries represented.  Definitely a good candidate for a Williamsburg Grand Street NYC pub crawl.

What are your thoughts on these places and my commentary?  Please share your comments here.'s night out in Park Slope

Here is where I went on my most recent NYC bar crawl, this time in the southern section of Park Slope (or is it South Slope?).

Freddy’s (627 Fifth Avenue btw 17th and 18th streets)

This is the new location of the Prospect Heights classic following its forced closure due to the Atlantic Yards development project.  This new location was the old Ellis bar.  Layout is somewhat similar to that of Ellis.  Bar is on the left with four booths along the wall opposite the bar.  The feel of Freddy’s new location is still laid back and chill, but it’s much larger than the old location.  They have a small outdoor backyard with three tables.  The beer selection is solid with 12 quality taps.

Brooklyn Pub (689 Sixth Avenue at 20th St.)

This is the location of the former Safe Haven Bar & Grill.  Well off the beaten path, Brooklyn Pub is a sports bar with seven flat screen TVs.  The bar is on the left and eight high-top tables serving parties of two or four on the right.  In between the bar area and kitchen is more seating.  There are six tap beers (including Brooklyn Lager and Six Point Sweet Action) and 23 bottled beers.  A good spot for those who live nearby.

Korzo (667 Fifth Avenue at 20th Street)

If you are in the mood for Central European food, this is the place for you.  The L-shaped bar greets patrons in front and the kitchen lies in between the bar area and the dining area in the back.  16 tap beers with a mix of European imports and some American craft brews.  I did not have a chance to sample the food menu, but I definitely need to return for that.

Der Kommissar (559 Fifth Avenue at 15th Street)

This is a sausage and beer bar!  Long, narrow spot with minimalist décor.  A grill in front by the entrance is followed by an seven-person bar.  Two small tables sit near the back of the space.  A chalkboard menu (see below) graces the back of the bar.  The place serves eight types of sausages!  Also had eight quality tap beers.  If you like sausages and beer, this place is definitely worth a visit.  The only other place I know of in the five boroughs that is similar is Wechsler’s in the East Village.

Have you been to these spots?  Please share your thoughts on these places and my commentary on them!'s night out along Grand Street in East Williamsburg

It had been a while since I bar hopped along Grand Street in East Williamsburg.  The other night, I decided to visit a few recently opened spots.  This is where I went on my most recent NYC pub crawl.

Tuffet (286 Graham Avenue, btw Grand and Powers; across the street from Sweet Ups)

A chill, laid-back wine and beer bar with friendly staff, Tuffet serves small plates including various chacuterie and cheese plates (they have cheese curd!).  Six tap beers and about a dozen bottles.  The space feels comfortable with an eight-person bar on the left and four high top tables on the right.  In addition, there are small seating areas in front and back of the bar area and large windows looking out onto Graham Avenue.  Behind the main room, a small hallway leads past the bathroom into a semi-private room that can seat six at one communal table.  A medium-sized, partially covered backyard has numerous tables and chairs.  Appropriately, grape vines cover a portion of the back and side walls of the backyard.

The Drink (228 Manhattan Avenue, just south of Grand on east side of Manhattan Avenue)

Upon entering, I was struck by the homey feel to the space.  Paintings and a small bookshelf on the right wall.  An upright piano sits in the corner opposite the bar area.  Several medium-sized wooden tables with mismatched chairs fill the space in between the entrance and the 12-seat, L-shaped bar, which is in the back, left of the room.  A vintage, nautical theme rounds out the feel.  Beyond the main area, a dark hallway leads to a small, L-shaped backyard.  The bar serves some small plates, along with five tap beers, nearly 20 bottled beers and limited hard alcohol.

LP & Harmony (683 Grand Street, between Manhattan and Graham Avenues)

Not a hard place to miss, the bar has floor-to-ceiling windows facing Grand Street with the bar name and logo painted in the middle of the window.   Two pool tables take up most of the front section of the space.  Further back, the S-shaped bar sits at the back right and three circular high-top tables along with a jukebox reside opposite the bar.  One notable item was the crowd.  Most were not of the hipster/yuppie type that frequents most of the other drinking spots in this area of Williamsburg.  My conjecture is that most were native to the neighborhood.  The bar serves about a dozen bottled beers, no taps and a full liquor bar.

The West Café (379 Union Avenue at Hope Street, diagonally across the street from Barcade)

Café by day, bar by night, this place serves beer and wine only.  But, for a café, it had quite a beer selection!  17 taps in all, including four beers brewed in Brooklyn.  The bar is on the right and tables on left and in back that serve parties of two and four.  There is also a small outdoor area in the back that has three circular tables under umbrellas.  I happened to visit during a free wine tasting event that also included some bread, cheese and two styles of salami.

What are your comments on these places and my description?  Please share your thoughts!


Carbonation at last!  Well, at least when we serve the beer at Scott’s place.  Upon completion of brewing another batch of IPA the other night, we decided to taste a batch of beer from mid-May.  At the suggestion of a friend of Scott’s, we tried carbonating the liquid using Scott’s seltzer machine (readers will recall our findings from the prior tasting).  We filled up the machine-specific bottle (typically reserved for water), placed it in the machine, ran the carbonating process a couple of times and, finally, we had honest-to-goodness, carbonated beer.

Carbonated homebrew!

Longer term, we will still need to figure out the how-to-carbonate issue because Scott and I would like to serve the homebrew beyond the comfort of Scott’s place.  We will attempt to bottle the beer and place bottling sugar in each beer bottle.  Then, allow the full beer bottles sit for few weeks so that they can carbonate properly.  Hopefully, that will fix the issue for good.

Straining the recently-brewed wort into the aging vessel

What are your thoughts on this?  Do you have any other suggestions for carbonating homebrews?  I look forward to hearing from you!