We're going to grab some balls!

(Okay, maybe I should have rethought that title.)  Artsy Guy here.  Howdy, Nation!  For those of you in or near NYC, Saturday April 7 will bring quite the amazing event: Beer Balls!  Some of our favorite folks in the NYC craft beer scene are the peeps at GetReal NYC, and they're giving us yea one more reason to love them.  This event will combine some of the best craft beer from here and abroad with every kind of meatball imaginable from many an NYC chef.  Session admission brings unlimited servings of both.  What??  Yes!!

And right now, there is an amazing deal cookin' over at Thrillist, good through March 27.  Click on over there for an early bird discount on the various admission packages.  So grab your package.  Then grab NYC by the balls!  That's what's HOPpenin', y'all!

Fancy Artsy: Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Snow in October at Stone Barns.Fancy Artsy = Fartsy?  I'm bringin' class to McGlass!  Artsy Guy here.  For a long afternoon last week, I became Fancy Guy.  Some friends and I splurged on the best meal I've ever experienced:  Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  If you can get to Westchester County (just north of NYC) and want a singular dining experience featuring the freshest and most innovative cuisine, get thee hither anon!  A transformative experience in many ways.

But where the rubber met the road in regard to THHG Nation purposes came when we added the wine pairing to our experience.  As anticipated, we were treated to many amazing local wines (and a pinot noir from near my hometown in Oregon).  But what really caught my attention was that the pairings included beer.  Our bread course (an heirloom grain brioche with spinach puree and ricotta cheese) was paired with a wonderful Belgian-style triple from up-and-coming Defiant Brewing from just down the road.  One astounding thing about this pairing was that the heirloom grains used in the bread were used in the brewing of this beer.  And upon request a course of varied cuts of pork was paired with a doppelbock from Les Trois Mousquetaires out of Quebec, Canada (a fine bottle that's evidently difficult to get in NY).  Heirloom grain brioche and a Belgian-style trippel from Defiant.We've all heard of the synchronicity of pairing wine with food.  But it's exciting to witness the finest dining establishments exploring the infinite possibilities of pairing finely crafted beers with cuisine.  Very cool!

Stone Barns in on the forefront of sustainable agriculture and the education of the same.  We were given a tour of the greenhouse and learned they've begun growing hops on the estate.  In cooperation with  craft brewers Kelso and Captain Lawrence, around 200 rhizomes were planted three years ago, and the plants are just beginning to yield significant amounts.  New York state once saw hop farming as a significant industry, it's great to see this as one of the steps to bring it back.

Some of the fresh bounty... and where it came from.Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Brilliant! They're what's HOPpenin', y'all!

Artsy's Backyard: In the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge...

The Brooklyn Bridge.Howdy y'all!  Artsy guy here, reelin' from a great day of wandering around the great city of NYC.  I crossed a wee wish off the list today and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.  The sky was full of chunky white and grey clouds, but the sun was a-peekin' through, giving quite a show.  As I ambled from the Brooklyn side (DUMBO) to Manhattan (Lower East Side), I was entranced by this iconic piece of architecture as well as that offered from the south end of Manhattan (including One World Trade Center as it climbs ever upward).  A highly recommended jaunt!

And as I found my footing on the bedrock of Manhattan, I figured such a trek should be accompanied by refreshments at one of the island's oldest drinking and dining establishments, the Bridge Café.  At the intersection of Dover St. (which runs along the southern base of the bridge) and Water St., you'll find an old storefront that poured its first wine and beer in 1794 when the East River licked at the back of the foundation and the bridge hadn't yet been built (and wouldn't be for 90 years).  The years since have found it in different hands and offering varied services (an 1855 census lists six prostitutes as residents), but the rough and tumble history of this neighborhood has long been accompanied by the liquid encouragement of the shopkeepers at 279 Water Street.  Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton argued sides of an insurance claim battle embroiled here.  The book The Gangs of New York describes a despicable dive called "The Hole in the Wall" at this location.  And in later years, as the place was polished, Mayor Ed Koch called this his favorite restaurant and held court here twice a week.  So much history in these clapboard walls!

The Bridge Café in the shadow of the Brookly Bridge, and the bar.Tuck in, y'all!On this visit, I found a charming restaurant with a talented chef and an incredibly well-stocked bar.  Whisky lovers will find quite a selection... scotches, ryes, bourbons, etc.  Craft beer lovers won't be disappointed (Hear hear!) with taps offering Kelso, Sixpoint, Lagunitas, Smuttynose, etc. and quite a bottle list.  The chef didn't disappoint even this transient lunch-seeker.  I absolutely loved my southwestern avocado soup with fire roasted corn and hominy... and a marinated mozzarella and cherry tomato salad on a bed of sliced beefsteak tomatoes, with croutons, basil, and amazing balsamic reduction.  I need more.  And there's plenty more to be had on the menu.  I'll be back tomorrow.

Get thee to the Bridge Café, y'all!  It's a perfectly charming fine dining establishment rising from the foundation of a whole lotta history.  Good stuff!  That's what's HOPpenin', y'all!

Pigs and stags and geese better scurry...

Hi! Artsy Guy here. Smack dab in the midst of NYC Craft Beer Week - a celebration of all things craft beer - and part of fun is discovering new places that are embracing the craftiness.  Oh sure, I've taunted the Tiger and ridden the Pony (or vice versa), but here was a menagerie of creatures yet to be whispered (and they sorta fit into my Oklahoma-themed conceit... see below).  This evening I set out on an adventure... to drop into places I'd not yet known.:

The Blind Pig, on first thought, seemed to be merely a gateway bar (on 14th near 3rd Ave.) into the wonderland of the East Village. They offered Blue Point as a NYCBW feature which made me think that they were just being safe with the Toasted Lager. But they also had a few other crafty things on draft (a Blue Point seasonal, Lagunitas IPA, Goose Island Matilda). That'll do, Pig. Cozy, sporty-type environs as well.

The Stags Head anchors Midtown East (around 2nd Ave. and 51st St.) and is a fantastic joint with great nosh (really great actually) and fantastic brews.  They were featuring Greenport Harbor brews this week, and the rest of the selection was fantastic as well... Wandering Star, Pretty Things, Allagash, with a nice representation from the left coast... Stone and Bear Republic.  And they have regular tasting events too.  Love this place!

The Guilty Goose is tucked in adjacent to the lobby of The Inn on 23rd. I was happy to find that they were featuring Cigar City Brewing out of Florida. Nice! I'm a big fan of this brewery and loved that they were featuring four choice drafts. I enjoyed an incredibly good standby... Jai Alai IPA. But they also had recently tapped Big Apple IPA which is possibly the best autumn beer for a hop head I've ever had... apples, cinnamon, and lots of hops! The Goose is featuring a visit from the brewers on Thursday eve.

New places!  Well, new to me.  These places are some folks' locals.  Places to gather and taste the craft.  That's what's HOPpenin'!  Take care, all!  Cheers!

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!!