Beer in Unexpected Places
The thing about leaving for a while in order to recharge is that the world keeps spinning. It does not stop because you have. You find upon your return a stack of work to do, which means in the case of the blogger, a bit of outsourcing. I offer you two recent bits from the New Yorker, which isn’t always the kind of periodical in which beer is featured. First up, a short review of Harlem Hops in the Tables For Two section.
BLACK HISTORY AT HARLEM HOPS
The other night at Harlem Hops, a new beer bar and restaurant on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, a neighborhood old-timer peered at a fellow-patron’s drink selection and gestured for the bartender’s attention. “Interestingly enough, this young lady has, like, four different beers,” he observed. The bartender laughed. “It’s called a flight,” he explained. “A flight?” replied the old-timer. “Like takeoff?” Harlem Hops is a thoroughly modern establishment, with a rotation of sixteen craft brews on tap, geeky tasting notes (“raw wheat, malted oat, milk sugar, lychee” for a sour I.P.A. from the Hudson Valley), and a mostly young, hip crowd.
The owners, Kevin Bradford, Kim Harris, and Stacey Lee, three beer lovers in their forties, were tired of having to leave the neighborhood to get the variety they craved. They wanted to highlight small, local breweries, especially those run by brewers of color. They wanted to excavate history, too. Did you know that some of the earliest evidence of beer-making, using warm-climate cereals like millet and sorghum, was found in Africa? That ancient Egyptians developed a malting process? That slaves in the American South brewed beer? Bradford, Harris, and Lee, all graduates of historically black colleges and universities, enlisted a historian named Tonya Hopkins, known as the Food Griot, to provide these reminders of the past, which are written in chalk on a pillar at the end of the bar. (2268 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.)
Please go on my behalf if you’re anywhere near Manhattan.
The second bit is just a link to a long story, but you receive, gratis, a teaser as well. Somehow a very bizarre beer story escaped my notice—despite two motion pictures describing it. Back in the 1980s, Freddy Heineken, of the Amsterdam beer Heinekens, was kidnapped. It was a surprisingly half-assed affair, and even more surprisingly successful. The two kidnappers used the cash to launch a career in crime, and the more violent and paranoid of the two, known as the Nose (he murdered the other) is now standing trial decades later for his decades of crimes. The story is about how his sister and erstwhile defense attorney is the one who turned him in. Amazing, fascinating, outlandish tale, made all the more so by the story of Heineken. For a good time, go have a look.
COVER PHOTO BY COLE WILSON FOR THE NEW YORKER