Friday, July 20, 2012

Back in a New York Groove

Back to NYC, for me—and Carrie. This time, though we took it up a notch, or rather a few notches, on the craft beer beeriness scale. We stopped by the unarguable and undisputed craft beer Mecca of Manhattan—a little place called Rattle N Hum.

The trip to Rattle, however, rattled us as well.

Having finished our business Harlem around 4:15, we headed back to midtown, via the 2 train, to Penn Station, with the intention of walking the two-and-a-halfish blocks to 33rd Street between Fifth and Madison Aves. As the subway roared its way south, we noticed the growing number of riders who seemed to be a good bit more, shall I say, damp than we were. Emerging from the 32nd Street exit from Penn Station, 5:00 in the afternoon had become midnight. The sky was black above New York. Dark clouds swirled and what seemed like sheets of rain were bombarding the helpless tourists and pedestrians on the sidewalks below. The expected, leisurely half mile walk to the bar had become a daunting trek through one of the heaviest downpours I've ever been in. Gusts of wind threatened to launch our measly umbrellas, out of our grip, and into kingdom come. Lightening zapped across the sky like glass shattering while thunder echoed down the cavernous streets, like the report of a howitzer. This storm wasn't like anything I'd ever been in before. It, for lack of a better word, exploded. I felt like we were being sprayed in the face by a hose on full for fifteen minutes, while we dodged both taxi cabs and flash-flood waters careening down the street. Compared to this water boarding would be a dream. By the time we reached the bar, I was soaked from nearly the waist down.

Oh, but it was worth it.

Stepping into the bar, from the chaos outside was like stepping through some kind of worm hole, transporting us not only from the storm, but from midtown itself. Sure, this place had the dim light and requisite long, wooden bar, but there's something different about Rattle N Hum. It screams craft beer. No neon Bud Light signs here, no sir. We perched our selves at the far end of the bar, backed by a wall muraled with a who's who of hand painted beer labels. A simple request, and two Fullers' Bengal Lancers appeared. The place is nearly impossible to comprehend, visually—there's something to look at with every dart of the eye—from banner and flags, tap handles and hand written beer lists climbing the walls. A Ballast Point Big IPA for Carrie and a Long Ireland Breakfast Stout for me—along with a few beer spiked chicken and mushroom sliders and an order of loaded fries with curry—and we continued to decompress. When we rolled in a few souls sat at the bar, but slowly beer geeks and girls, businessmen and blue collars filed in. The indy-rock playing when we got there, eventually was drowned out by a cacophony of voices and  laughter. By 6:00 the joint was packed. I've spent a fair amount of time in my life drinking in NYC bars and pubs, but Rattle is different—it's comfortable, like an old pair of shoes—even though I'd never been there. Rattle has a familiarity, an acceptance that sometimes—most of the time—can get misplaced at a big city bar. It's not like I felt as though I could easily become a regular to the place—I didn't have to, it was as if we already were regulars. We capped our time with another Big Eye IPA and a Green Flash Retro Extra Pale Ale—which, truth be told, Carrie was a little underwhelmed by. I made up for that by grabbing two bottles of their West Coast IPA for the train ride back to Albany, and we headed out the door.

I missed Rattle N Hum almost as soon as we left. The walk back to Penn was far less adventurous. The storm had moved away and the sun began peeking back over the skyscrapers. The sky had turned a pinky-blue and all that was left of the torrent was lake-sized puddles. I left New York with a few great beers, a new favorite spot, and a pair of very wet shoes.


  1. See if you get a VT BBQ road trip invite now. That sounds like an epic beer outing and I am jealous as hell sir!

    1. The majority of the day, in all honesty, was spent in meetings or on the train, so not so epic for 13 of the 15 hours we spent out of Albany. That being said, you and I need to make a trip to NYC—soon!