Top Taps in New York
Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, is one of the most visible advocates for beer’s place at the table. He praises Gramercy Tavern in New York for understanding the versatility of beer, and beer’s ability to complement the tavern’s eclectic New American cuisine. “Gramercy Tavern was voted a top restaurant in New York in Zagats. They have a serious wine list, and an excellent beer list: 12 taps, and a great bottle list selling at premium prices that people are glad to pay.”
At Gramercy Tavern, the beer and food partnership is fully matured. General manager Kevin Mahon waxes as enthusiastic about beer as wine.
He tackles the problem restaurant managers grapple with: what to offer the high-end diner who asks for a mundane beer.
“We like to promote local breweries that are doing such a terrific job. Carol Stoudt in Pennsylvania has a damn good pilsner, no other way to say it. We’ll steer people to that beer who come in asking for a Bud or an Amstel Light or a Heineken—or we’ll steer them to a Staropramen if they’re in the bar. The idea is that if they ask for a Bud, or Heineken or Amstel Light, Michelob, Corona, we have something in that ilk, but from a smaller, boutique producer, something with a little more character that they’ll enjoy more.”
Gramercy Tavern features Anchor Liberty Ale, Victory Hop Devil, Unibroue Maudite, the Abbey Ale and Monster Barley Wine (served in appropriately smaller glasses) from Brooklyln Brewing Co., and Rogue Chocolate Stout on draft, as well as an impressive bottle selection.
“For the already-converted who know they like beer, the staff does a great job. For example, someone knows Chimay, and knows they enjoy Belgian beers. If the Chimay may be a little heavy for a dish, we have a wide spectrum and can suggest an alternative.”
Mahon reserves his greatest enthusiasm for beer and food combinations. “We’ve discovered that some beers go especially well with certain dishes, We paired scallops with sauterne jelly with Éphémère from Unibroue—it was almost too much! With roasted meats, I love more robust ales—Corsondonk Brown or Schneider Aventinus, with all that dark fruit.
But the home we’ve really found is beer with cheese. J.W. Lees Harvest Ale has a vinous character; it’s sweet, rich, and high in alcohol. With put that with a double or triple cream cheese or by itself, it’s fantastic. Or we’d suggest one of the lambics. They have the fruit quality of a red wine, with the acidity and effervescence to be the ideal palate cleanser with cheese.”