Christmas in NYC

Rockefeller Tree
Rockefeller Tree


Every Christmas season, since I was a kid, I go into NYC to visit the Christmas Trees of all Christmas Trees at Rockefeller Center. If you’ve never done this before I highly recommend adding it to your list of things to see in your life time. There is something magical about the Tree.

Over the years my NYC Christmas tradition has grown to include the shops at Bryant Park and a beer or two at my favorite beer place in NYC, BXL Café. This year I decided to try something new and check out the massive display of Christmas decorations at Rolf’s German Restaurant while enjoying a German beer.

Well, my companion and I didn’t realize just how popular Rolf’s display was until we reached the restaurant and discovered a 2 hour wait just to have a drink at the bar. As much as I love German beer and wanted to see the decorations there was just no way I had the patience to stand 2 hours in line to do either of those things. So off we went and started the short trek back to the subway station when we came across TapRoom307 and their slogan No Crap on Tap caught my eye. We glanced at the food (veggie and meat friendly) and beer menus and decided this was the place to plant ourselves for a bit.

TapRoom307 has a pleasant atmosphere that is designed to allow friends to gather and hang out for a while. The bar is long and booths line the walls while long communal tables run the down the center of the establishment. The decor is rustic/wood and very warm and inviting. The only downside sound carries and at times the noise level can make it a bit hard to carry on a conversation.

Since there were 40 beers on tap and I didn’t plan on spending too much time at the Tap Room I decided the best beer route for me to take was a Flight, 4 beers for $12. I decided to try four beers very different from each other.

Weihenstephaner Vitus, Weizenbock, Germany 7.7%
From start to finish this beer was a joy to drink and very refreshing as well. It pours an orange/yellow color with a nice white head. Several flavors mix around as you drink this beer including citrus, banana, cloves and coriander all mixed with a sweet malty aroma.  I couldn’t have asked for a better beer to accompany my lunch, kale salad with citrus vinaigrette.

Prelude Special Ale, Winter Warmer, Shipyard Brewing, Maine 6.7%
This beer has a nice dark amber color to it with a tannish head. It’s a descent winter ale that has a nice nutty flavor to  and a subtle hops ending.  The winter spices are not overwhelming as some winter beers can be. In fact, I would never guess it was a winter ale from tasting it but rather a descent amber ale.

Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza, Belgian Strong Ale, Michigan 9%
First thought – a Christmas Tree just exploded in my mouth. It has a woody pine taste to it mixed with dark fruit tartness and holiday spices. A small pour of this particular beer was enough for me, I could not imagine drinking a full tulip glass of it. I mixed it with a wee bit of the Harpoon Chocolate Stout and that helped to mellow the flavors out. I enjoyed the combination of the two. Remember to experiment!

Harpoon Chocolate Stout, American Stout, Harpoon Brewery, Massachusetts 5.9%
This beer pours black and has a nice frothy head. The roasted malts take a bit of a back seat to the sweetness of the chocolate and vanilla. The sweetness was a bit overpowering for my taste and mixing with the Jolly Pumpkin helped to cut it. It’s a decent stout but isn’t going to make my top 10 list.

Left to Right: Jolly Pumpkin, Harpoon Stout, Vitus, Prelude
Bryant Park
Bryant Park

Once we finished up at the Tap Room we headed back up town and to Bryant Park and my favorite BXL Café. BXL is in close proximity to Bryant Park, Times Square, Port Authority and Rockefeller Center but is NOT touristy at all. Several years ago a dear friend and I were on 43rd headed toward Rock Bottom Brewery when out of the corner of my eye I spotted BXL and we decided to stop in there first. We never made it to Rock Bottom that day. BXL is a wonderfully small intimate bar with a couple of small tables, for two, in the front window area and about a dozen tables in the back for eating. There are several TVs in the café and usually they have on European football. The menu is on the small side but has something for everyone and being a Belgium restaurant there’s a nice selection of mussel dishes to choose from. Of course, the main reason I go is the beer. All Belgium or Belgium style beers are on tap and there’s a nice bottle selection as well. At least 90% of the time the beer is served in the appropriate glass which I just love.

BXL Cafe
BXL Cafe

On this visit I decided to enjoy one of my favorites….

Chimay Spéciale Cent Cinquante, Bières de Chimay S.A 10%
How much do I love Chimay? I once had a special, special cat named Chimay. The color of this ale is a beautiful copper with a nice white head. The balance of the spices with the yeast and citrus is just a perfect blend. There’s a nice undertone of peppers with the malt and a crisp dry finish. Chimay never fails to bring a smile to my face.

For this particular visit I had planned on enjoying just this one special beer but then I found out they had Delirium on tap and well…you guessed it….I had to have one.

Delirium Tremen, Brouwerij Huyghe, Belgium, Belgian Strong Ale 8.5%
YUM! This ale pours a nice golden color and has a nice steady stream of bubbles. It’s a bit more carbonated than I usually like but for some reason that doesn’t bother me. The taste is a delicate balance of lemon, apples, honey and just a slight hop essence and is a very crisp and clean beer that finishes dry.

Delirium Tremens
Delirium Tremens

After the Delirium my beer adventures for the day had come to an end and it was time to make our way back to the Port Authority. It was another successful Christmas visit to NYC.

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