Artsy's Backyard: William Hallett.

William Hallett.Artsy Guy here, on a break from the desk on a drippy day in Astoria. Pretty recently, my 'hood was graced with a gem of a gastropub: William Hallett. Named for a pioneer of these parts, this place is also blazing trails in the way of comfort food: the turducken sandwich and foie gras sliders give just a hint at what awaits.  This evening, I opted for their brilliant mac and cheese and side of the bacon brussels sprouts.

The wine list is varied and interesting, and there's a full bar.  But of course the beer taps are what catch my eye, and the regular selection here includes Founders Centennial IPA, Stone Smoked Porter, Coney Island, Kelso, Sly Fox, and more.  Yes and yes.

So, if you're in Astoria, Queens, in the NYC, get thee to William Hallett.  They're open late with an after hours menu until 2am.  That's what's HOPpenin!

Artsy's Backyard: On Tap at Whole Foods Columbus Circle

On Tap at Whole Foods Columbus Circle.Artsy Guy here!  As you can see, I've been saving up some posts.  The schedule has been nuts!  But I wanted to be sure to let y'all know about a few recent adventures.  Most recently, I found myself at Whole Foods at Columbus Circle.  The Whole Foods chain had already established itself as a great resource for craft beer lovers, filling growlers and stocking great stuff.  And the beer room at Whole Foods at the Bowery is craft nirvana.  But Columbus Circle stepped up the game recently by opening On Tap, where you can buy bottles, fill growlers, and sit down with a pint and some nosh.

The focus of the beer is primarily local, and the food is fantastic snacky fare with emphasis on local incredients as well.  This store gets crowded so, at certain times, the communal tables might be impermeable, but if you can swing by in a quieter hour the rewards will be yours.  That's what's HOPpenin' y'all!

Artsy's Backyard: Spuyten Duyvil & Barcade...

Hey there!  Artsy Guy here, just passin' the time in NYC.  Sometimes, when you're in your own stompin' grounds, it's easy to take the local amazingness for granted.  Today, I was wandering on a much-deserved evening off and moseyed into a couple great joints.

Spuyten DuyvilSpuyten Duyvil (or spiting, spitting, haunting, etc. devil wherever you take your learnin') is a pioneering beer bar on Metropolitan Ave. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  On each visit, I've experienced amazing beers that were new to me.  This visit found me with the Kuhnhenn Simcoe Silly Double IPA.  Wow!  Spuyten Duyvil was on the forefront of the import/craft beer movement in NYC, and they continue to be a vital and relevant force today.  Oh, and during the summer months, the back patio is a dreamy option to the cozy bar area.The taps and bottle list (and Jesus). The back yard. The draft list.

Barcade!Just a few blocks away is Barcade.  Those of my generation, will understand the draw of standup arcade games such as Galaga, Ms. Pac Man, Donkey Kong, etc.  Combine the joys of these video delights AND craft beer, and you've got Barcade on Union St. in Williamsburg.  Brilliant concept!  Leave it to those happy hipsters in Brooklyn to combine playtime and drinking.

The main digs.Hop to it, y'all!  There are so many wonderful finds wherever you are in the Big Apple... and in cities all across this fine country of ours.  And that's what's HOPpenin' y'all!  Cheers!!

Artsy Guy in the ol' 'hood: Lucky Baldwin's and more...

Lucky Baldwin's, Pasadena.Hello, folks! Here's the third and final installment of my posts from my old stomping grounds in Southern California.  As my time in Cali waned, I was able to drop into one more favorite haunt: Lucky Baldwin's in Old Town Pasadena.  This is a great pub owned by an Irishman, featuring Belgian and local beers, and named for a local hero of sorts.

On the afternoon I dropped in – after a chill session drinking coffee and posting my last HHG post from an honest to goodness bookstore, Pasadena's treasured Vroman's – there was a large contingent of folks cheering on Manchester United in a satellite-broadcast footy match.  I ordered a half-order of their amazing fish and chips.  And I sampled a local IPA and a saison from Belgium (since we were in the midst of phase two of their annual Belgian fest).  Variety and adventure.  So much great stuff here... and at their second space: Lucky Baldwin's Delirium Café in Sierra Madre.  Great establishments!More Lucky Baldwin's.

And as I wind up my trip, I want to be sure to give y'all heads up about other wonderful places I've had the privilege of visiting over the years...
Blue Palms Brewhouse: This is another of my favorite Southern Cal beer bars.  I would have dropped in this time around, but I knew that HHG Jimmy had posted this amazing video about his visit a while back.  Go!
The Stuffed Sandwich: You've seen the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld? Sam at the Stuffed Sandwich has, at times, been likened to a beer nazi of sorts.  He has wonderful taste and strict respect for craft beer culture, and if you're on the same page, you will have a fantastic experience.  At the Stuffed Sandwich, you must buy food, and you won't be disappointed.
Father's Office: The original Father's Office sprouted from a 50-year-old local watering hole on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.  After the current restrateurs took over, I was amongst the multitude of folks who waited on line for one of the absolute best burgers in LA.  Now they sport two locations (the newer one being in Culver City), serving up wonderful craft suds, those amazing burgers, and more.
Laurel Tavern: In my old 'hood, I was happy to find a gastropub with great crafty selection.  Nice craft selection and tasty grub.  And I came to find out that the owners had also conceived a couple other places including The Library Bar in downtown LA.

• A few other places definitely worth a mention based on a visit or two each over the years: Naja's Place on the water in Redondo Beach (a brilliant craft beer selection and almost always crazily crowded) and relative newcomer The Surly Goat in West Hollywood (another fab selection accompanied by a crazy crowd) and Golden State on Fairfax (home of the most amazing beer float ever... North Coast Old Rasputin over brown bread gelato).

Well, that's a whirlwind trip of the scene here.  Pick one – or several – and go!  The craft beer revolution is deep-seated in Los Angeles and its environs.  SO many choices and possibilities! And THAT'S what's HOPpenin' y'all!  Cheers!!

Artsy Guy in the ol' 'hood: Beachwood BBQ, Tony's Darts Away...

Howdy folks!  Artsy Guy here in Southern California, visiting pals and catching up on the old neigborhood(s).  The last post was from Northern San Diego County.  For this installment, I dropped into a couple places a bit further north.  First... Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach.

Beachwood BBQ on Main St. in Seal Beach.This is hovering there at the top of my list of favorite beer bars in Southern California.  Cozy, friendly, and laid back... with fantastic food and a brilliant rotating beer selection.  At their website, be sure to click on the "Hop Cam" which periodically captures a photo of their chalkboard wall.  Such a brilliant way of updating folks on the current draft list.  (HHG Mark suggested I try to photo bomb one of the shots, but I couldn't figure out when they happened. Anyhoo...)  Some other cool things about this place: They recently opened a brew pub just a hop north in downtown Long Beach.  The BBQ is delicious, and while they have traditional favorites (pulled pork, ribs, etc.), they also have a cold smoking process that results in menu items like my snack of choice on this visit... the blackened ahi sashimi.  And probably my favorite geeky pleasure at this place, owner Gabe's "flux capacitor" which allows each tap to be customized to optimal brewer specifications.  Neat. And it's just a block or so away from the Seal Beach pier.  I love this place!

Beachwood BBQ's bar, blackened ahi sashimi, and the "flux capacitor."Tony's Darts Away.Next, I wanted to try someplace that was new to me.  A lot can happen in a year and a half, and while I've been away, this place sprung up in an old neighborhood watering hole rather near my last apartment.  Tony's Darts Away in Burbank is another example of a beer bar done right.  Their beer concept is "All craft. All draft. All California", celebrating California's many contributions to the craft beer revolution.  For example, the west coast IPA style hails primarily from Cali, and Tony's draft menu is categorized as "IPAs" and "Not IPAs".  It's not necessarily fair to other beer styles, but it makes this Guy incredibly happy.

I didn't get a chance to try the food, but it looked great.  Sausages and salads and fried things... including a lot of choice for vegan folks.  They also strive to be a no-waste bar and a low-waste kitchen, admirably striving for a small carbon footprint and encouraging sustainability.  It's the only way I want to experience green beer.  Ha!  I made a funny.

Tony's Darts Away.Anyhoo... the folks at Tony's Darts Away also recently opened Mohawk Bend in Echo Park, featuring 72 taps and the same standards featured at Tony's.  Sounds like they're doing it up right.

I think I have one more post on the way from this trip.  I'll likely not be able get to all the ol' haunts, but that doesn't mean I can't list a bunch that any of you Cali residents and visitors can check out.  So, for now... that's what's HOPpenin' y'all!  Cheers!

Artsy Guy in the ol' 'hood: Stone, Port...

The Beav and Squigs.Hey HHG Nation!  Artsy Guy here, on a quick trip back to the ol' stompin' grounds of Southern Cal and lovin' every minute of catchin' up with ol' pals and hittin' up old haunts.  First on the list... Stone!!  In the recent past, I've worked mere minutes from the hub of Southern California craft brewing for months on end, and I didn't take it for granted.  Now, as I'm back for a visit, I had to drop in for old times sake.  The Stone World Bistro and Gardens is Disneyland for the craft beer geek.  On this visit, I was accompanied by my pal, the Beav...

We tucked into tastes of both the amazing Stone brews (Ruination IPA, Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout) and guest suds.  And although we weren't in for a full meal (the selection of which boggles the mind), we did nosh on some appetizers (spud buds) and sides (focaccia, green beans and mushrooms).  So good!

Stone World Bistro and Gardens.

The grounds are stunning here!  A full acre of tiers of seating and fire pits and frog ponds.  Beautiful design inside and out.  Such a destination for the most seasoned of beer afficionados and mere devotees of fine hospitality and adventurous folks wanting to broaden their beer horizons.Some outdoor and action shots.

Dr. Bill and the Artsy Guy at Stone.I was able to say "hello" to "Dr." Bill Sysak ("Stone beverage  supervisor and certified Cicerone®").  Y'all run a fine establishment here, Dr. Bill, and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to drop in.  Best wishes to you and all y'all in all that's next!!

Pizza Port, Solana Beach.While in the general vicinity, I was also happy to drop into one of the three Pizza Ports along the north San Diego coast... the original in Solana Beach!  Home of some amazing brews including the tasty offerings of Lost Abbey Ales, the three Pizza Ports offer tasty grub and laid back vibes for coastal residents and visitors.  Such a great destination!

On this visit, I took advantage of the lunch special, which normally features a slice of 'za, good sized side salad, and a soda for under $5.  Well, you can upgrade the salad to a Caesar and upgrade the soda to one of the fab Port brews... and still come in under $8.  I enjoyed a Swami's IPA, named for nearby Swami's Beach which I had visited minutes before.  The waves were refreshing, and the IPA was even moreso.  Wow, I say!  Wow!  Such a great place to tuck in for lunch!Pizza Port, Solana Beach.

North San Diego County is truly a whirling dervish of craft beer activity.  I'd suggest a special trip to discover the amazingess.  Check out San Diego Brewers Guild for more info!  And that's what's HOPpenin', ladies and gents.  Cheers!

Whassup in Wichita??

Howdy, y'all! Artsy Guy here, hollerin' from Wichita, Kansas, where I'm playing a seagull for Music Theatre of Wichita.  Awk!  It's in a spirit of gratitude that I mention that I'm currently taking part in my tenth production for MTW.  The jam-packed stock schedule doesn't allow for too much free time, but I'm happy to say that I've found the craft beer scene in Wichita to be incredibly happenin'!  Here are a couple of my favorite finds...

Goebel's Liquor, featuring Rob's World of Beers. Wichita, KS.I am incredibly impressed with the selection and the friendly service at Goebel's Liquors (featuring Rob's World of Beers).  It's mind-blowing actually.  As I was just discovering the craft beer world a few years back, I was excited to find that the closest thing I had to a hometown microbrew was represented significantly here.  Goebel's has the largest selection of Rogue beers outside of Oregon.  This summer, I was happy to discover some nifty Colorado beers from Ska in Durango and Odell in Ft. Collins.  And while the selection of Colorado and Midwest brews are featured heavily, the west coast is continuing to creep into the local scene.  In fact, this week, Green Flash is bringing a taste of San Diego County to the country's breadbasket.  It's not just at Goebel's.  They're also taking over taps at...

Anchor Bar. Wichita, KS.The Anchor Bar!  This is a fantastic bar with a regular rotation of fantastic craft beers.  Yes, Green Flash is popping in this week which is so cool, but the selection is consistently varied and interesting.  A recent visit brought a selection of Belgian style strongs and sours from New Belgium in Fort Collins, CO and a white IPA collaboration between Boulevard (Kansas City, MO) and Deschutes (Bend, OR)... and some fab offerings from Avery, Great Divide, and North Coast.  The food is great too.  Beer cheese soup, truffle fries, burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc.

If you're in town, get thee to one of these joints.  Wichita's craft beer scene is truly swingin'!  And THAT'S what's HOPpenin'!