Bar Review: Top Hops Beer Shop

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I recently visited Top Hops Beer Shop in the Lower East Side for a Saturday afternoon drink.  The atmosphere is cozy and welcoming with an array bottles and beer merchandise serving as the décor. A few high-top tables offer seating in front along with a medium-sized bar with about a dozen stools and more than 20 beers on tap. Coolers in the back filled with beers from all over the world are available for purchase to-go or to drink at the bar for a small fee. Also, feel free to bring a growler for a refill. If you want a yummy snack to go along with your beer, the cheese platter was popular while I was there.

My friends and I ordered several beer flights and I enjoyed all the beers I sampled – I don’t remember what we drank, but do recall drinking a Daydreamer from Ithaca Beer Company. The bartenders were knowledgeable and clearly beer lovers. All of the patrons were friendly and we spent some time chatting with the table next to us. Kudos to Top Hops for playing great music; I’ve never been to a bar where I like every single song that was played.

Bottom line – I would go back to Top Hops, but would carefully choose which bartender I ask for a recommendation. While ordering, I briefly chatted with the bartender and explained that I enjoy all styles of beer but would like to try a good-quality beer that is unique to the area/shop or difficult to purchase in the area. I asked if he had anything that was running low or something that he felt was “different” that I should try. He laughed smugly and told me to look at the list of beers on the wall and then proceeded to tell me he can’t recommend anything because he doesn’t know what I like and everything is good-quality. I was in the restaurant/bar business for several years and understand that people ask “stupid” questions, but the bartender could have been a bit more helpful and friendly.

P.S. Make sure you shut the door on your way in/out! Cheers!

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Mom’s Signature “Beer” Roast Beef

With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, many people are planning their traditional corned beef and cabbage dinners. For those of you who are looking for a different dinner option, Mom’s Signature Roast Beef from Southern Living is a hearty recipe that will have you celebrating like a true Irishman (or woman).

Ingredients (Makes 6 – 8 servings):

  • 1 (12-oz.) bottle dark beer (Since it’s St. Patty’s Day, I recommend using Guinness.)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 (3- to 4-lb.) boneless chuck roast, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh coarsely ground pepper
  • 8 carrots (about 1 1/2 lb.), diagonally sliced (If you’re lazy like me, you can use baby carrots)
  • 7 Yukon gold potatoes (3 lb.), peeled and cut into eighths
  • 2 large onions, cut into eighths
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Cooking Directions:

  1. Combine beer, next four ingredients, and 2 Tbsp. oil in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag.
  2. Add roast, turning to coat. Seal and chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
  3. Remove roast from marinade, reserving marinade. Sprinkle roast evenly with pepper.
  4. Brown roast 4 minutes on each side in remaining 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a large heavy-duty roasting pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Add reserved marinade, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of pan.
  6. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  7. Bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or cook in slow cookers on high for 4 – 6 hours.
  8. Turn roast, and stir in carrots, potatoes, and onions.
  9. Bake 2 more hours or until roast and vegetables are tender.
  10. Transfer roast and vegetables to a serving platter.
  11. Skim fat from juices in roasting pan.
  12. Whisk together cornstarch and 1/2 cup water in a small bowl until smooth.
  13. Whisk cornstarch mixture into juices in pan; cook over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until thickened, whisking to loosen particles.
  14. Drizzle 1/2 cup gravy over roast. Serve remaining gravy with meat and vegetables.

Dobrou Chut’!

Beer of the Week: Long Trail Brewmaster Series Double IPA

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Long Trail Brewmaster Series Double IPA (8.6 % ABV): This Imperial IPA brewed by Long Trail Brewing Company in Vermont pours a hazy burnt orange with a small, thin head. Fragrant floral hops on the nose with notes of pine and a hint of citrus. Smooth, balanced drinking experience – bitter hops at the forefront complemented by bitter-sweet grapefruit and sweet malty caramel flavors. The ABV is will hidden in this double IPA with a punch of flavor.