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  • Writer's pictureLuke Nyswonger

Tapping into NYC: A Journey of Brews, Boroughs, and Beyond

New York City, often revered as the pulsating heartbeat of the US, had always sat atop my list of must-visit destinations. After an immersive week journeying alongside Kelley through the city's intricate labyrinth of streets, neighborhoods, and tales, I've been infused with a deeper appreciation and introspection. While readers of this blog are accustomed to exploring homebrewing and AI, this particular article diverges slightly. Instead, it's an ode to our exploration of the Big Apple, encompassing not just its iconic landmarks, but also a series of breweries that dot its expansive landscape. And, as a nod to my brewing passion and AI intrigue, I'll be drawing inspiration from this adventure to craft a distinct NYC-themed beer using AI in the near future.


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In our week-long exploration of New York City, Kelley and I embarked on a whirlwind tour, visiting an impressive total of 47 distinctive spots. We navigated the city using subways, taxis, Ubers, and our own two feet, clocking in nearly 45 miles according to my Fitbit. From the electric energy of Times Square, the towering majesty of the Empire State Building, to the serene expanse of Central Park, and the poignant memories at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, our journey encompassed a broad spectrum of what NYC offers. We didn't just limit ourselves to the city's iconic landmarks; our adventure also spanned across gastronomic delights at places like Nobu and unique brewery experiences at Other Half Brewing. This trip wasn't just about checking off a list but truly immersing ourselves in the city's multifaceted culture.


As a steadfast devotee of West Coast IPAs, I approached the city's brew scene with high hopes, only to find myself longing for the hop-rich bitterness that has become my personal yardstick for a great beer. Yet, this very gap in my expectations opened up a realm of discovery. Beyond its iconic skyline and the harmonious chaos that stitches together its cultural fabric, New York City's craft beer landscape stands as a testament to its multifaceted nature. From the urban pulse of Brooklyn to the nostalgic byways of The Bronx, each district spills a different pint of history and flavor.


At the vanguard of this craft beer resurgence, establishments like Brooklyn Brewery, with its artful blend of age-old lagers and fresh exuberance, Other Half Brewing, which surprises with its boldness in every IPA, and Grimm Artisanal Ales, pioneering in its unique brew methods, shine bright.


Here's a breakdown of our week...


A Week in the Big Apple

Day 1 - Arrival and Immersion

The day started with a transition from the skies of Seattle to the vibrant hustle of JFK, New York. Though greeted with record rain and flooding, the spirit of adventure couldn’t be dampened. We quickly made our way to the eclectic streets of Ludlow and Lower Eastside, absorbing the energy of the city. Dinner at Ainslie Bowery was a treat, introducing our taste buds to New York’s diverse flavors and our first Pizza. The evening was a whirlwind of activity, taking us to Loreley Beer Garden, then to Pretty Ricky's for meatballs and craft brews. Rounding off, Dirty French at the Ludlow Hotel offered an ambient escape from the urban bustle.


Ainslie Bowery: Diavola Pizza & Fried Fontina Risotto Balls
Ainslie Bowery: Diavola Pizza & Fried Fontina Risotto Balls

Day 2 - Retail and Revel

The allure of NYC’s iconic shopping destinations beckoned. The futuristic Apple Store contrasted the timeless elegance of the boutiques on 5th Avenue and Madison Street. As afternoon approached, we marveled at the grandeur of the Rockefeller Plaza. The NBC Studios Rock Observatory was an impressive journey behind the scenes of broadcasting wonders. Lunch at Bill's Burger & Bar was hearty, recharging us for the neon spectacle that is Times Square. Gotham Restaurant served as a delightful culinary conclusion, before we indulged in speakeasy vibes at Strip House Speakeasy.



Day 3 - Skyscrapers and Shows

We commenced the day atop the Empire State Building. The panoramic views rendered us speechless, placing the city's vast expanse into perspective. Hunger beckoned, and Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer came to the rescue. We then sauntered through Herald Square, absorbing its historic essence and marveling at the largest Macy's store in the world. Evening was a theatrical affair, as we got mesmerized by the iconic Wicked on Broadway. Post-show, Haswell Green's offered the perfect ambiance for reminiscing and relaxation while watching Taylor Swift and the Kansas City Chiefs take on the New York Jets. I'm considering crafting a Broadway-inspired beer called "Elphaba’s Enchanting Elixir". Or maybe a Taylor Swift version called "Red Zone Romance Ale". But I digress...



Day 4 - Bridging Boroughs

No Sleep till Brooklyn! A name that reverberates with history, culture, and contemporary vibes. Our day began with an unexpected adventure as we accidentally hopped on the wrong subway, aiming for Chinatown but ending up in Brooklyn. This serendipitous mishap led us to spend most of our day here, embracing the unexpected. We started wandering the streets and by-lanes, feeling the district's pulse. For lunch, Sunday in Brooklyn served the best cheddar scramble I have ever tasted. Post that, Domino Park offered a serene escape. But the day's highlight? Beer. My visit to Other Half Brewing and Brooklyn Brewery felt like a pilgrimage to the altar of hops. The misadventure turned into a discovery of liquid gold in a borough brimming with brewing expertise. Later that day we wrapped up with a sumptuous spread at La Contenta.



Day 5 - Artistic Souls and Central Strolls

Our day began with a visit to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), a veritable treasure trove of modern masterpieces. As someone with a background in art history, it was surreal to stand before iconic works by van Gogh, Cézanne, Salvador Dalí, and others like Picasso and Matisse. Each piece evoked memories of lectures and textbooks but seeing them in person added a new dimension of appreciation and awe. Our artistic indulgence was complemented by a culinary one as we treated ourselves to a lavish Japanese spread at Nobu. Revitalized, we then meandered through the lush pathways of Central Park, taking in the city's green heart and its serene vistas. As day transitioned to evening, we unwound with creative concoctions at Dakota Bar. Our art-filled day concluded on a gastronomic note with more authentic Italian pizza at Sauce.



Day 6 - History, Tributes, and Tribeca

A traditional breakfast at Katz Deli set our day in motion. We then journeyed to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The iconic Charging Bull added to our photo memories. O'Hara's Restaurant and Pub offered a delightful lunch, after which the solemn 9/11 Memorial and Museum moved us deeply. Evening had us exploring the quaint alleys of Tribeca and relaxing with drinks at Stafili Wine Cafe. The day concluded with culinary wonders at Dirty French and some bar hopping, ending at Hair of the Dog in Ludlow watching a live performance of Savannah Jaine and then a snack fix at El Churro on the walk back to the hotel.



Day 7 - Elevated Walks and Nostalgic Nooks

Our final day began with sugary delights from Supermoon Bakehouse and savory bites from Heaven's Hot Bagels. We then explored the culinary wonders of Essex Street Market. Inside the market, we made a pit stop at The Grand Delancey, where I savored two refreshing Zwickelbiers and a hazy DIPA called Mad Fat 7th by Interboro Brewing Company. After our foray into the market, we ventured to Greenwich Village, which was brimming with nostalgia, especially our lunch at The Little Owl — a nod to "Friends." Later, we strolled the Highline, an architectural marvel, leading us to the diverse offerings of Chelsea Marketplace. Our day was beautifully wrapped up at Rue 57.



Conclusion

New York City left an indelible mark on our souls. From the omnipresent aroma of "pot dogs" (the delightful blend of marijuana and hotdogs) to the inescapable sounds of sirens and honking, it was an experience like no other. The NYC craft beer scene might not have resonated with my Seattle-bred tastes, but the city's spirit and charm more than made up for it. The love affair with Other Half Brewing was real, and I’m itching to bring a dash of New York's character to our West Coast brews.


Until next time, New York. You were grand in ways words might never encapsulate fully. Cheers to the memories, experiences, and the brews they'll inspire. 🍻


🗽Tourist Attractions & Landmarks:

  1. Ludlow and Lower Eastside - newyorksimply.com/things-to-do-lower-east-side

  2. 5th Avenue and Madison Street Shopping - visit5thavenue.com

  3. Rockefeller Plaza - rockefellercenter.com

  4. Times Square - timessquarenyc.org

  5. Empire State Building - esbnyc.com

  6. Herald Square - l.macys.com/new-york-ny

  7. Brooklyn / Williamsburg - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Williamsburg,_Brooklyn

  8. Domino Park - dominopark.com

  9. Central Park - centralparknyc.org

  10. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island - nps.gov/stli

  11. Charging Bull - thewallstreetexperience.com/blog/story-behind-legendary-charging-bull/

  12. 9/11 Memorial and Museum - 911memorial.org

  13. Exploring Tribeca - compass.com/neighborhood-guides/nyc/tribeca/

  14. Walking through Greenwich Village - greenwichvillage.nyc

  15. Stonewall National Monument - nps.gov/ston

  16. Walking the full stretch of the Highline - thehighline.org

  17. Exploring Chelsea Marketplace - chelseamarket.com

  18. NBC Studios Rock Observatory - nbcstudiotour.com

  19. Essex Street Market - essexmarket.nyc

🍽️ Dining Venues:

  1. Ainslie Bowery - ainsliebk.com

  2. Bills Burger & Bar - billsbarandburger.com

  3. Gotham Restaurant - gothambarandgrill.com

  4. Sunday in Brooklyn - sundayinbrooklyn.com

  5. La Contenta - lacontentanyc.com

  6. Nobu - noburestaurants.com

  7. Sauce - saucenyc.com

  8. Nolita Pizza - pastanewyork.com

  9. Katz Deli / Bagels - katzsdelicatessen.com

  10. O'Hara's Restaurant and Pub - oharaspubnyc.com

  11. Supermoon Bakehouse - supermoonbakehouse.com

  12. Heaven's Hot Bagels - heavens-hot-bagel.business.site

  13. The Little Owl - thelittleowlnyc.com

  14. Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer - blacktapnyc.com

  15. Apple Store - apple.com

  16. El Churro (Snack venue) - www.elchurrero.com

🍸Drinking & Nightlife:

  1. Loreley Beer Garden - loreleynyc.com

  2. Pretty Rickys - prettyrickys.com

  3. Dirty French - dirtyfrench.com

  4. Strip House Speakeasy - striphouse.com

  5. Haswell Green's - haswellgreens.com

  6. Other Half Brewing - otherhalfbrewing.com

  7. Brooklyn Brewing Company - brooklynbrewery.com

  8. The Grand Delancy - www.thegranddelancey.com

  9. Dakota Bar - thedakotabar.nyc

  10. Stafili Wine Cafe - stafiliwinecafe.com

  11. Hair of the Dog in Ludlow - hairofthedognyc.com



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