Beer is no longer simply a beverage; it’s an art form filled with creativity, passion, and community. It’s about wanting to spend your hard-earned dollars on a better (read: craft) product made by a local guy, who, like you, appreciates all that goes into a cold glass of toasty, malty goodness. So what are you waiting for? Take your pick from Westchester’s bounty of suds-slinging options and get hoppy.
Rare and one-off kegs are some of the gems you’ll find at Birdsall House (970 Main St, Peekskill 914-930-1880; www.birdsallhouse.net), where owners Tim Reinke and John Sharpe have built a longstanding relationship with brewers in the craft beer community. Expect 20 high-quality, innovative, and expertly picked options on draft (always rotating), along with about 20 craft bottles (also constantly changing) and raise your glass to discovering something new.
A combination of sour beers, barrel-aged offerings, and some really funky adaptions of classic American styles and European mainstays can be had at Bridge View Tavern (226 Beekman Ave, Sleepy Hollow 914 332-0078; www.bridgeviewtavern.com) where growlers and cask-conditioned beers (which they promote ahead of time, so you’ll always know when they’re in) sit alongside 18 dedicated and constantly rotating craft beer lines. Local favorites include pours from Captain Lawrence Brewing Company and Peekskill Brewery, as well as rare beers from breweries with limited distributions such as Hill Farmstead Brewery (VT), Maine Brewing Company (ME), and AleSmith Brewing Company (CA), among others.
How’s this for fun? Order in nibbles from one of Tuckahoe’s area restaurants or bring in your own picnic of goodies and enjoy the fresh-from-the-vat brewskis at Broken Bow Brewery (173 Marbledale Rd, Tuckahoe 914-268-0900; www.brokenbowbrewery.com). This family-run brewery, just a little over a year old, was designed to replicate the small-town feeling of Broken Bow, Nebraska, where founding partner Kathy LaMothe was born. Tours are offered Fridays and Saturdays at 3 pm and 6 pm, and the tasting room is open Wednesdays to Sundays. The atmosphere is convivial and friendly, and the beer is crisp, bright, clean, and toasty.
More booze: The Westchester Bar Bible
Rejoice in the intensity of flavors at Captain Lawrence Brewing Company (444 Saw Mill River Rd, Elmsford 914-741-2337; www.captainlawrencebrewing.com), the undisputed king of local brewing. Luckily, since moving to Elmsford almost three years ago, there’s more elbow room for downing a pint of Freshchester Pale Ale as well as more food choices (the brewery partners with local vendors), in addition to the occasional live music performance, and as always, a round of bocce. Count on 12 different beers on tap, including a “one-off” specialty brewed in small batches that can be here today, gone tomorrow. Mostly, though, it’s the experience of seeing where the beer is made (there are free tours Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm and 4 pm) and the opportunity to drink some of the products that never leave the brewery that make this place a must for beer aficionados.
The stylistic boundaries of beer tastes and flavors are constantly being tweaked and edited at Coals (35 N Main St, Port Chester 914-305-3220; 131 Parkway Rd, Bronxville 914-337-1901; www.coalspizza.com), where you’ll find 10 craft beers on tap and more than 30 bottles and cans. Ask Managing Partner Tim Shanley, a self-described beer fanatic and home-brewer, what he suggests and you’ll get an earful (in a good way), as well as an education on the art of craft brewing.
It’s all about the list at The Craftsman Ale House (235 Harrison Ave, Harrison 914-630-7484; www.craftsmanalehouse.com), where there is a rotating inventory of 125 to 150 beers on the menu at any given time (that includes bottles and drafts). According to Director of “Hoperations” Joe Vicidomini, the goal is to expose folks to beers they wouldn’t normally see unless they came to the restaurant. “It’s all part of a journey to drink better beer,” he says.
Growler’s Beer Bistro
Velvety stout? German pilsner? Or full-bodied IPA? You’ll have your pick of choices at Growlers Beer Bistro (25 Main St, Tuckahoe 914-793-0608; www.growlersbeerbistro.com), where a variety of styles awaits amid an intimate, jazzy, beer-centric bistro. The eatery, which coined the name “Hoppy Hour,” offers a selection of food and beer that changes frequently based on the seasons. Not suprising at a place that likes to quote Benjamin Franklin, who said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
For 20 years and counting, The Lazy Boy Saloon (154 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains 914-761-0272; www.lazyboysaloon.com) has pioneered Westchester’s craft beer movement, stocking up to 200 bottles and cans of hard-to-find brews, along with a rotating line of 53 drafts including different variations of gose-style, mead, ales, sours, IPAs, lagers, and artisanal brews. Among the interesting varieties: Bell’s Brewery’s Hopslam Ale, Nugget Nector from Tröegs Brewing Company, and Southern Tier Pumking. Come on a Thursday, Sunday, or Monday for half-priced wings and $4 craft beer pints.
Seasonal local goodness is the maxim of The Mill (583 Warburton Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson 914-231-7772; www.themillhastings.com), which means along with the thoughtfully prepared food, you’ll find area favorites including Broken Bow, Captain Lawrence, Peekskill Brewery, and more among its 12 draft lines.
What’s on tap is practically the battle cry of The Tapp (17 N Broadway, Tarrytown 914-703-6022; www.thetappny.com), The Mill’s sister restaurant and partner in crime when it comes to carrying a wide variety of interesting drafts, bottles, and styles including amber ales, darker ales, lagers, wheat beers, Belgian-style beers, and gluten-free assortments. Check the giant chalkboard for the list of 10 draft lines or peruse the menu before selecting from one of 30-plus bottles. If you’re not hooked by the atmosphere—that of thoughtful bar meets made-from-scratch cuisine—you’ll appreciate the passion that goes into every food and beverage decision. Says Executive Chef Alexa Wilkinson, “If we could carry more breweries, we would!”
Brewmaster Jeff O’Neil loves experimenting with ingredients and seasonality, meaning you’ll be treated to a variety of ever-changing malted grain and hop-infused beverages at Peekskill Brewery (47-53 South Water St, Peekskill 914-734-2337; www.peekskillbrewery.com), also known as “PB,” where, along with all kinds of beer-oriented foods (think soft pretzel with cheddar and IPA sauce, beer-battered fish and chips, and spicy house-made andouille), you’ll find amber hues like no other, often made in smaller batches and crowned with whimsical names like Vaporizer and Maltballs. And, because everything is made on the premises, it’s super fresh.
The celebratory atmosphere at Port Chester Hall and Beer Garden (3 Broad St, Port Chester 914-305-8383; www.portchesterhall.com) offers all the makings for the ideal after-work gathering; it’s complete with tons of indoor and outdoor space, a mix of individual and communal tables, multiple stone fireplaces, and Instagram-worthy bar food (the oversized, dangling warm pretzel is a must), not to mention great Brooklyn-brewed beer. Enjoy 10 on-tap options; we’re fans of the crisp, light golden lager, the full-malt IPA, and the single hop pale ale.
Food and cocktail writer Jeanne Muchnick long ago gave up Corona Light for more masterful, local brews.