A NYC Game Changer

Martin Johnson - Finback is fine.

Usually when I tell people that I had a beer soaked day, I mean I spent a few hours at one of NYC’s top craft beer bars enjoying numerous rare and tasty selections.Thursday was a beer soaked day and the only beer I had a full pour of was a Sam Adams Cold Snap to accompany a burger late in the evening.

The day began with a trip to Queens and the Finback Brewery. 

Finback is one of the biggest game changers in the recent spate of craft brewery openings in New York City. During the last three years or so, more than 25 production facilities and brewpubs have opened in the five boroughs.There is more beer being brewed in New York City than at any time in the last 50 years.Finback has been one of the most consistently creative of the bunch.They make a wide variety of high quality beers and to their credit they never seem to settle for good.Almost all of their beers swing for the fences, which is great, as there are enough beers on the market that are the equivalent of an infield single.

Although Finback is a bit of a schlep from Manhattan, it’s a train to a bus followed by a seven minute walk, it’s worth the effort.Their tap room is warm and comfortable and they have seven amazing beers on draft and cans of another.But I wasn’t there to take a load off; instead I went to pick up beers for my class that evening.I was teaching a class on the NYC Brewing Renaissance as part of the 92nd St. Y culinary program.I picked up growlers of their Massif, a Baltic Porter; Age of Reason, a citrusy saison; and their IPA.In addition, I grabbed a four pack of cans of their grapefruit sour, Starchild.Since I couldn’t be around all that beer without tasting just a little, I had a four ounce pour of the saison. It was wonderfully dry with a grassy aroma and hints of hay in the finish.

The class was my first as the beer instructor.I usually handle the cheese element and there were cheeses to pair with the beers; a copy of the program notes is here.I screwed up the cheeses a few times but the order of the beers was on point.To my slight surprise, the reaction to the beers was universally positive with some of the variations following the stereotype: the men loved the Porter and in fact, vied for the leftovers of it while the women in the class were partial to the sour.By class’s end, almost all of the beer had been consumed.I found a little IPA and enjoyed it.

By the time I was heading home I decided to stop and savor the day, so I grabbed some sliders and wings at a local chain that offers a late evening happy hour.My best choices were a Duvel for $8 or the Sam Adams for $4.I loves me some Duvel, but the Cold Snap was fine for some well-made sliders and spicy wings.

The Author:

Martin Johnson is a beer buyer and merchandising manager for Westside Market East Village in New York City.When not selling or drinking beer he writes about jazz and beer for the Wall Street Journal, basketball for Slate, beer for Eater and about a variety of cultural and culinary topics for The Root.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.

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