“We love our craft beer and we love our boozy brunches, so this is a marriage made in heaven. This E Village beer bar recently launched what it’s calling a “BEER-unch!”. Every Saturday and Sunday $20 gets you unlimited craft beers (24 different taps) plus an entree. And if someone in your party would prefer more traditional brunch cocktails like mimosas, bloody marys and sangria, well they can have those, too, unlimited. Choose from craft beers like Lagunitas Lil’ Sumpin Sumpin, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and Troegs Nugget Nectar with no limitation on the number or type of beer.”
Sounds good, right? It is. Recently, my sister-Bird, a friend and I headed over to this East Village bar/gastropub/beer café to check out this amazing deal. After sitting down in a cosy but mostly empty bar, we immediately poured over the list of twenty plus craft beers and placed an order. Food? Oh, we’ll figure that out later. Beers first, please! Our first round included a pair of Olde Saratoga Lagers and a Magic Hat Howl. Upon receiving said beers, we sent our waitress back with an order for a triumvirate of huevos rancheros, which had been recommended to us by my sister-Bird’s coworker.
Olde Saratoga Lager: Crisp, refreshing golden lager. Not outstanding or memorable in any particular way but was a solid beer that I could drink a few of in one session.
Magic Hat Howl: Advertised at Hop Devil as a black lager, but upon further investigation is actually more properly called a “schwarzbier” meaning black beer in German. Tasty roasted malt, nut and cocoa flavors were unfortunately offset by slightly overwhelming bitterness and a bit too much carbonation in my opinion for a dark beer.
Next round brought a Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter, North Coast PranQster and Otter Creek Alpine Black IPA as well as the orders of huevos rancheros. These met with far more mixed reviews…
Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter: By far my favorite of the beers we tried. It is this kind of beer that is making beer tasting as complex an art as is wine tasting. The beer was dark brown with a bit of light brown and tan in the fluffy head. As the name indicates, this porter has a strong smoky flavor with your typical hints of roasted malt, coffee and chocolate.I feel like it would have paired extremely well with a burger or BBQ.
North Coast PranQster: Fruity Belgian-style golden ale that had an in-your-face banana bread flavor with suggestions of lemon and citrus as well as a bubbly carbonated finish. Definitely a tasty beer, but not something that I would drink more than one of in a session. The sister-Bird absolutely loved this one.
Otter Creek Alpine Black IPA: Black American-style (and by this I do not mean that this beer was made by a black man from America) Indian Pale Ale. This was the first dark IPA that I’ve ever had, and I had actually never seen a black IPA before. I am definitely used to seeing pale to dark golden IPAs, so it was pretty cool to see this take on the traditional IPA. I am admittedly no IPA fan as the hoppiness and resultant “cotton-mouth” taste is not to my liking, but this beer’s hoppiness was not at all overwhelming. Unfortunately, however, Otter Creek was way wayyy too bitter for me. It was almost lambic-like in its acidity and red wine-like in its sharp bitterness. All in all, not for the Bird (or his sister-Bird for that matter).
Huevos Rancheros: Meh. I expected more after the glowing recommendation that we had initially heard, but they weren’t good. Nor were they awful, but after a few bites it became apparent that this meal was going to serve more as something to sop up the beer in my belly than as any sort of gastronomical experience. The salsa, rice and beans were generally bland but the eggs were delicious and ultimately the meal’s saving grace. I wouldn’t recommend it nor would I order it again, though.
Since, as I mentioned earlier, the bar was mostly empty on this rainy Sunday, service was fast and the wait staff was extremely personable (let’s just say they put Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark on the TVs for us). They were also nice enough to extend what is normally a 1.5-2 hour open bar to about 3 hours. The other spattering of patrons at the Hop Devil Grill were sociable if not a bit eccentric (But what do you expect? It’s right on the border of Alphabet City). I don’t think I will ever forget the one-legged (yes, one-legged) NYU student who came to our table and explained, in detail, the plot of her work-in-progress film script which centers on a bullrider who sounded like a cross between Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler and Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart. Sounds interesting, but you know what? I think I should write a script about a bar-hopping (too soon?) one-legged NYU student who is struggling with writing a film script about a bullrider. Now that’s a movie.
Final Verdict? I would 100% come back to Hop Devil Grill for Sunday beer-unch or even as part of a night out. It has a very cool and laid back atmosphere and coupled with the great beer selection and warm wood and copper decor, is just my kind of bar.
Hop Devil Grill
129 Saint Marks Place
New York, NY 10009
P.S. I consider myself a man’s man and you will never find me ordering anything at a bar but beer and whiskey. That being said, I am certainly not opposed to tasting different varieties of spirits if someone else orders them.
Queue sister-Bird with Hop Devil Grill’s Cinnamon Apple Pie Martini and Spiced Pumpkin Pie Martini. I tried both of them; they both tasted just like they were named and they were both absolutely delicious. Highly recommended.
“Buzz”-word of the Day
A person who rejects or avoids conventional behavior, dress, etc. Originated as a slang term for members of the 1950’s countercultural Beat Generation.
“The NYU student who joined our table was just one of the many beatniks that inhabit the East Village.”