Blind Tiger

Blind Tiger

5

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Area: Greenwich Village
The Blind Tiger on Bleecker Street claims to be New York’s ‘premier craft beer bar’, and it’s hard to argue with this designation.

During a recent short vacation to the Big Apple, I sought out this bar. As a beer lover, I’ve enjoyed the resurgence in interest in the wonderful world of  barley, yeast and hops enormously. (If everyone could now locate the on-switch of love for Test cricket, the world would become a perfect place).

But craft beer’s rise – the movement started in the US, before sweeping across olde-worlde ale-drinking nations like Britain, Belgium and Germany, then taking on the world – has come at a cost. London pub windows are too often festooned with stickers promising ‘Craft Beer Inside!!!’ What lurks within is, alas, too often less than impressive, and unworthy of so many exclamation marks.

So when a bar asserts its preeminence, like a Silverback in a Congolese rainforest, it seems churlish not to test its claims.

The first point of interest in the Blind Tiger is to observe that it looks more like a London pub, either by accident or design, than a typical New York saloon. There is no long marble or mahogany bar, à la the likes of McSorley’s Old Ale House. The bar is crammed into a corner, where a solitary waitress – who I suspect may well own the place – gives her best impression of dealing stolidly with the endless flow of thirsty patrons.

I arrived around 4pm on a wet Wednesday afternoon, to find the place a quarter filled, and a group of sturdy Americans gathered around the sole television discussing the merits of Liverpool Football Club’s strikeforce. No New York Mets or Yankees, no Golden State Warriors – it was a world turned upside down.

A warning: do not come here unless you have perused the beer menu first. The choice is, if anything, too overwhelmingly, a rolling cavalcade of 28 draught beers in any given week, plucked from breweries dotted across the 50 states. They have names that leave a Brit like me, used to milds and bitters and the occasional racy-sounding golden ale, scrambling for the beer dictionary.

My only option, it felt, was to embrace the randomness of the Universe. I shouted my order across the mind boggling vastness of the bar – seriously, does it have to be as wide as the Grand Canyon. Up first, the 21st Amendment Back in Black Black IPA form California, coming in at a heady 6.8% alcohol.

When that was siphoned down my gullet, it was time for a von Trapp Vienna-style lager, drawn from the clean, crisp waters of Vermont. Anywhere else in the world, this would be the choice of hard drinkers looking to get steamed. Here, in a country in love with double hopping and double IPAs, it barely counts as a session ale. When the room turned a little wobbly, I wound my neck in, choosing for my third drink of the day the Black Duck, a New York-style porter from Greenport Harbour.

The Blind Tiger offers a few ways to soak up the booze – the steak sandwich and spicy pork meatballs are, I have it on solid authority, very good indeed. If you spill beer down your shirt, as I did, you can buy a great Blind Tiger tee shirt, which I did.

Three hours after arriving, I departed, a little blearier and a lot happier. This isn’t a new bar: it’s been around since 1995, serving happy patrons. It probably is the city’s best craft beer bar – I haven’t found a better one during my regular jaunts to the city. I never did manage to work my way through the entire beer menu, and I doubt I ever will. In fact, I hope I never will – it’s good to have something to look forward to. Viva the craft beer revolution! Viva the Blind Tiger!

Image credit: Blind Tiger

 

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Directory

Establishment Type
Bars & Lounges
Restaurant
American
Occasion 
Friends
Price 
Middle of the road
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