Holly Kay and I have been married for 5 years (!!!) now. We’ve got a trip to Ireland planned for the first week in November (!!!) which we’re super excited for, but we’re always looking for ways to celebrate our love.
This past Friday, we were both done early from work, so I met Holly down in Soho so we could find a nice Happy Hour (who doesn’t love a good Happy Hour?). As I waited for her to get out of work, I had a hankering to visit one of our favorite special places here in NYC. It’s got great food, great beer, and great… Arcade games?
Yeah. You got that right, Jack (who is Jack anyways and how did he get that right?), I’m talking about Barcade.
The first Barcade opened in 2004 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, then in Jersey City and Philadelphia in 2011, two Manhattan locations in 2014, and New Haven in 2015.
Our very special Barcade is located in Chelsea, on 24th street, equidistant from the E and the F trains, which both run express to our neighborhood of Jackson Heights, so, bonus. We haven’t had a chance to visit the other locations, but we’ve spent numerous occasions here, including our 4th Wedding Anniversary (sandwiched between a massage and a Punch Brothers show at The Beacon Theater).
We all love nostalgia, and Barcade touches all the right, nostalgic-like parts of your brain cavity. With arcade games such as Tapper, Rampage, and Donkey Kong, you’re transported back to your childhood, except it’s cooler because you’re an adult now and you can do what you want and what you want is an extensive craft beer selection and a menu that features Tetris-shaped tater tots.
We took two stools at the bar when we arrived (it was just before 5pm), and began perusing the beer list. We were greeted by Brian, (who we later learned was the beer manager for that location), who was amazingly friendly and helpful, and more than willing to answer any questions we had, or let us sample a few beers before deciding (a sign of a great beer bar).
Holly ordered a Kent Falls Lade Øl Saison. This is a “toasted hay grisette”. Saison? Grisette? They’re nearly the same thing. While a saison was a low ABV beer brewed for farmers to enjoy after (or during) a long day in the fields, a grisette was brewed for miners (Because nothing prevents black lung like a farmhouse ale!).
Lade Øl is Danish for “barn beer”. The addition of toasted hay adds notes of grass, vanilla and spice to the funk and citrus of a traditional Farmhouse Ale.
I started with an Evil Twin Erase and Rewind #2 IPA. Clocking in at 7% ABV, this is a punchy, citrusy IPA bursting with pineapple and orange, pine, and some malty sweetness. Another hit from Jeppe and crew at Evil Twin.
Evil Twin Erase and Rewind #2 IPA. Also, a gorgeous array of taps.
Let’s talk food. We decided to share a sandwich and some Tetris Tots. We glanced up at the specials on the chalkboard, and I immediately drooled all over myself. Why? Check this monster out…
Holly Kay’s next beer was from the always phenomenal Carton Brewing from Atlantic Highlands, NJ. It’s called Sakura, and it’s a Gose brewed with sushi rice (!!!???) and cherry blossom. Weird? Yup! But with Augie Carton, you always know he’s going to do you right.
(Check out This Article about Augie’s philosophy, and you’ll see why I trust this dude with any beer he makes.)
As soon as Holly and I took a sniff of this beer, we glanced sideways at each other. “Is it weird that this beer smells like sushi rice?” I asked Holly. “Yes.” She responded. “It’s brewed with sushi rice!” I said. She took another sniff… “That definitely smells like sushi rice.” The aroma was salty and sweet just like sushi rice, with lemon and floral notes. Taste was tart lemon peel citrus, floral, and salty. I’m hoping they have cans of this left when we visit the brewery next week, because this was out of this world.
My next pick was the Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout. This is a collaboration beer with everyone’s favorite need Wil Wheaton, and Drew Curtis (who runs the website fark.com). This year’s iteration was brewed with rye, flaked wheat, and pecans (yummmm) and aged in bourbon barrels. For a beer brewed by a bunch of nerds, this brew is a bully. At 13%, it’s dangerous, because the smoothness of vanilla and caramel from the bourbon barrel plus the sweetness of the pecans make for a real easy drinker that’ll shove your head in a toilet and take your lunch money. I want these dudes to continue making this every year.
It was time for video games. First was Holly Kay’s favorite…
Discs of Tron!
My wife is amazing. (Have I mentioned my wife is amazing?). She always comes on top 10 on this game. This time, she hit #7. I thought I had a picture of it, but it turns out, when you get on the top 10, your initials blink on and off on the screen. Of course, I took the picture when the initials weren’t on the screen. So, you’ll just have to believe me, or come with us next time we’re at Barcade.
We then hit up Tapper, everyone’s favorite anxiety nightmare Bartending game. We rock this one out all the damn time, although that probably has something to do with that we downloaded a free version (or was it 99¢?) of Root Beer Tapper for iPhone (the version inside Barcade is completely branded by Budweiser…) and we are now seasoned Tapper veterans. I think we’re just naturally talented with our hand-eye coordination.
In summary, you all should head to Barcade. You’ll have an amazing time regardless, but if you have the pleasure of being served by Brian, prepare to have an elevated Craft Beer experience. Thanks, Brian!
Until next time!