Just spent a few days in New York on vacation. Here are a few notes about the breweries and beers I found.
Singlecut Beersmiths in Astoria, Queens was the big hit. They're small and have been open less than a year. Bit of a pain to get to; take the 7 train to the end of the line in Astoria, then walk about a mile further. Don't mind the walk, it's a good neighborhood and worth the travel distance. They have dedicated lagering tanks, and their lagers were pretty good. The Olympic White Lagrrr especially, and the rum-barrel aged schwarzbier on nitro was a standout. For music fans, there's a well-equipped stage above the office and a selection of vinyl behind the counter.http://www.singlecutbeer.com/
Brooklyn Brewery was a bit of a hassle. Don't get me wrong: the beer was good and the brewery space was nice. The problem was getting there from Queens; subway track work required transferring to a shuttle, and I wasn't sure which station to use and then had trouble with my MetroCard... By the time I got to Brooklyn it was 6pm on Saturday evening and the tasting room was packed and loud and the line for beer was almost out the door. You have to go through a two-step process, buying tokens first at the merch booth (it sounds like a hassle but it makes the beer line go a lot faster). After I got my beer there was no place to sit, so I hung out next to the fermenters. On the upside, another lonely beer geek was on the bench next to me, so I made a friend.
Everything I drank from Brooklyn (both at the brewery and elsewhere in the city) was solid, but didn't impress me in the way Singlecut did. Belgian pale, saison, bier de garde, Oktoberfest. There's an AHA discount at Brooklyn but I completely forgot about it when I was there.
Peekskill Brewery was recommended to me by the barkeep at Singlecut. I had Sunday free, so I grabbed the 10:30 Hudson train from Grand Central. Train tickets cost about $23 round trip, and it was worth it for the scenery alone. It was an easy, pleasant 45-minute train ride along the Hudson River with the leaves just putting on their autumn coats. PB is in a renovated old building just a short walk from the train station and there's a lovely park on the river, across the street. The beer was fairly good across the board. They had a lot of IPA's. Dream of the 90's is a coffee IPA, and yes, coffee and hops can work together. The Simple Sour was also pleasant, a subtle version of a brett beer. I didn't like their single-hop Centennial, though. Very rough hop character. The food there was only OK. Decent burger but terrible onion rings.http://peekskillbrewery.wordpress.com/
In the city I was surprised by how easy it was to find good beer. I had figured it would be like Vegas, a beer desert served only by macros, but it was much the opposite. Pretty much every place we went had local taps or at least bottles. We happened upon the outdoor Madison Square Eats festival and had a relaxing first night in New York drinking and eating underneath the Flatiron Building. Before our requisite Broadway show, we found a beer bar called Three Monkeys at 54th and Broadway; they have a well-curated tap list and tasty food.
All the beer I remember having was solid (no specific comments): Ommegang Scythe & Sickle, KelSo nut brown, Southern Tier 2x stout, Blue Point Toasted (Vienna) lager. There were some other beers, not necessarily local, but I've lost them in the haze of memories from the trip.
The only disappointment that I had is while there are many breweries in New York City, few of them have tap rooms. It seemed to be only Singlecut, Brooklyn, and a handful of brewpubs in Manhattan. I presume that New York licensing laws make taprooms difficult. But at least I know now that it's not hard to find a tasty, local pint in New York.