Essex Ale House is just around the corner from where Sally (yes, yes, oh yes, that hussy Sally) met Harry. Well, to be more correct, it's just around the corner from where that famous scene was filmed at Katz's Delicatessen. Just south of Houston Street at the beginning Essex Street, just after Avenue A ends, is where you'll find Essex Ale House. From the nearest subway, it's just a quick three short blocks walk from the F/V-Lines
I went to Essex Ale House during my impromptu day-trip to NYC for a couple of beer events on 12/27. The contribution that EAH made to my daylong delight was in the form of something they called "Chouffe-fest 2006", complete with Houblon Chouffe, N'ice Chouffe, and Gnomette II on draft. I won't go into the back story here behind the Brooklyn/Brasserie d'Achouffe collaboration, so if you want more info, go here...includes a link with pictures too.
Hanging out at Essex Ale House is a bit like hanging out in my garage. Come to think of it, my garage may be even bigger. But, like my garage, the bar has beer available in it (only, I don't have draft beer) and various assorted beer-related decorations on its walls. But, EAH is in a way like a breath of fresh air. Many visits to bars come with expectations. Expectations to be dressed a certain way, expectations to behave a certain way, expectations of a nice comfy restroom, expectations to order certain beers or foods.
Not here. Come as you are, act as you wish, and only high-end very good beers are available....and no food. Though, they will be happy to order take out food for you to be delivered to the bar. Otherwise, this is a down-to-earth and friendly neighborhood hole-in-the-wall bar. And, I say this with absolutely no insult intended :) I found it just downright nice to belly up to nothing but a bar with a friendly bartender (Jeff) and a few other beer loving patrons.
I spent a couple of hours here before moving on to Hop Devil and The Collins Bar. (You'll find a summary over here of my day in NYC.) The sibling Chouffes and Gnomette were all excellent and a nice start to the day. Next time, I may spend even longer diving into other quality drafts and bottles that they consistently keep on line. Jeff also described to me New York's recent "discoverance" of Pennsylvania beer. Who knew Pennsylvania had so many decent breweries? (glad they're now aware!) He rattled off Troegs, Victory, Sly Fox, Yards, and Weyerbacher as his personal faves. He added that Victory and especially Sly Fox have taken the NYC market by storm and are frequently requested.
This corner of Manhattan continues to gentrify and with institutions like Essex Ale House, there's even more reason to wander into this former rough-and-tumble territory. Oh, and by the way, if you need some takeout beer, just head over a couple of blocks to New Beer Distributors and be sure to find some tasties to take home with you.