A Centennial of Beer, Atmosphere and Ethnicities – Review of Bohemian Beer Hall

BY BETH KAISERMAN

There are many ways to spend a relaxing spring evening. Sipping suds in New York City’s oldest beer garden is one of the most refreshing options.

Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, 29-19 24th Ave. in Astoria, boasts a huge outdoor beer garden, refreshing beer pitchers and authentic Czech food. While no beer games are allowed, competitive souls can meet at the ping pong tables in the back of the beer hall.

Those who prefer sitting can plop down at a picnic table outside, where we enjoyed some Friday night jazz. My companion and I both ordered the baked palacinka, baked crepes with melted munster cheese, spinach and mushrooms. You have the option of chicken or vegetable, and I went for the chicken. We paired the meal with an ice-cold pitcher of Staropramen, a crisp and light Czech beer.

Palacinka at Bohemian Beer Hall
Palacinka at Bohemian Beer Hall

I wanted to try something completely different from what I normally eat, and achieved that by ordering this dish. It was creamy and rich, covered in a light, gravy-type sauce.

A downside of the dish was the lack of mushrooms; it only had two and would’ve been really tasty with more. The spinach was very flavorful throughout, so the dish is ideal for spinach fans.

The other drawback was it wasn’t that filling.

It would definitely be fun to go back and share some foods to get a variety of tastes. I’d especially like to try the schnitzel and pierogi, which I loved as a kid in Pittsburgh.

For the beer, you can get a half-liter mug for $5, but it’s more worthwhile to split a pitcher for $15. Beer options include choices from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belgium, Germany and the U.S. There are also Czech cocktails and drinks, such as Slivovice, the traditional Czech plum brandy.

The garden celebrates its 100-year anniversary this year. The beer hall hosts a variety of events reflecting Astoria’s diverse ethnicities, and it’s a great place to hang out with friends when the weather is nice. It got a bit too cold after a while, but I can’t wait to go back to chill out once the warm weather returns.

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Something for everyone: The five best beer destinations in New York City

Something for everyone – The five best beer destinations in New York City

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

In recent years the popularity of beer has increased dramatically in New York.  What was once a beverage enjoyed by few, usually of the male demographic, with the sole purpose of drinking to get drunk has now turned into flavorful, stimulating, and enjoyable experience suited for men and women alike.  Here are my top 5 beer destinations with something to suit any mood or palate:

Best Brewery Experience


Beer1

Brooklyn Brewery
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
#1 Brewers Row
79 North 11th Street (Btwn. Berry & Wythe St.)
718-486-7422/brooklynbrewery.com

The Brooklyn Brewery is open to the public for drinks straight from source on Friday nights from 6-11pm and on Saturday and Sundays from noon- 6pm. They also offer free tours of the brewery where they brew some (but not all) of their beer, weekends at 1,2,3, and 4pm.

Decor is minimal, essentailly just picinic tables inside a large garage (it IS the brewery afterall), but bringing your own food is encouraged if you can snag a table for you and your friends. Come early on Friday nights, tables go quickly. With six rotating taps of Brooklyn’s finest, there is something for everyone and at about $4.50 per beer, this place is a steal!  If you ask the regualars, “the beer just tastes better here.”

Best Beer Garden

Image from queens.about.com
Image from queens.about.com

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden
Astoria, Queens
29-19 24th Avenue (at 29th St.)
718-274-4925/bohemianhall.com

No New York beer list is complete without paying homage to the historical Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden.  As the only original beer garden of New York City still standing, it is a must see because not much has changed since Bohemian Hall was constructed in 1910 by the Czech and Slovak immigrants who settled in Queens.  Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden is a great place to grab picnic table filled with friends and family and enjoy a nice selection of Czech and German brews or even some delectable traditional Czech food.  Lines can get long during the day on weekends in clement weather, but it is a lively experience that cannot be missed.

Best Belgian Beer Experience

Photo courtesy of Burp Castle on Flicker
Photo courtesy of Burp Castle on Flicker

Burp Castle
East Village
41 East 7th Street (Btwn. Cooper Sq. & 2nd Ave.)
212-982-4576/burpcastlenyc.wordpress.com

While not all the beers served at the Burp Castle are of Belgian descent, the atmosphere certainly makes it seem that way.  Enter; a dark wood bar area, reminiscent of a library with high top tables and a mural covering every wall of the small, cozy space. Bartenders, knowledgeable and friendly and spotted occasionally in “Brewist Monk” garb.  A quiet, neighborhood bar that will stay that way if the bartenders and regulars can help it… and they do help it, but shushing you if you get too loud.  The taps are constantly changing and the chalk board listing what is currently available is always a thought provoking list of choices that most have probably never even heard of.  While beers are a bit expensive, ranging from $6- $10 a glass (not necessarily a pint depending on the style of beer), it is well worth it to be able to enjoy your company (and your drink) as if you were in your own home.

Best American Craft Beer Bar

Photo by NY Barfly
Photo by NY Barfly


The Pony Bar
Hell’s Kitchen
637 10th Avenue (@ 45th St.)
212-586-2707/theponybar.com

Serving up only American craft brewed beers, The Pony Bar is the #1 spot to get your fix and support your country.  There are 20 taps to choose from and usually 2 that you can find in the casks.  With the tendency to get jam packed during after work hours, your best bet is to stop by on the weekend for a lunchtime beer.  If you decide you’re up for the challenge, join the Pony All Americans, and in true American spirit overindulge in your favorite beers and get rewarded!  100 beers on your list and you’re inducted into the Pony All-American club.  The prize includes an All-American brewery shirt, a video review of a beer of your choosing to be posted on the website, and first dibs on a seat to one of The Pony Bar’s destination brewery trips.  There are also special beer events hosted by craft breweries from around the country fairly frequently.  Check out their website for details on events.  Happy drinking.

Best Selection of Beer

Photo courtesy of The Ginger Man

Photo courtesy of The Ginger Man

The Ginger Man
Murray Hill
11 East 36th Street (Btwn. 5th & Madison Ave.)
212-532-2740/gingerman-ny.com

One of four Ginger Man bars (the other three located in Texas), The Ginger Man NY, with 70 taps and over 150 bottles has the largest selection of beer from around the world that you will find in New York City.  With beer from Sri Lanka to Switzerland to Brazil and everywhere in between, there is truly something for everyone at The Ginger Man.  If you can, stay far away from the afterwork crowd, as it may take you 45 minutes to get a drink at the bar.  Try for a weekday or weekend afternoon for the best chance at grabbing any one of an eclectic mix of beers.  You can even take home your own mixed and matched six-pack of any of their bottled beers.

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