Monday, May 28, 2012

Victory Beer Garden Open Again

It's become a much anticipated sign of summer -- the re-opening of the Victory Beer Garden in Battery Park, at the southern most part of the park, next to the Battery Gardens restaurant and beside the Coast Guard station!

This year they've done a very smart thing and created a gate into the garden from the most heavily trafficked pathway near the garden. In the past, the beer garden was quite hard to find unless you already knew that it was there. Hidden behind thick, high hedges, and with the entrance located behind the garden away from the pathways, it was no wonder that this gem of a watering hole was always so undeservingly empty.

On our Memorial Day visit, the garden was more busy than we've ever seen it. In fact, we wondered if we would find a seat, as we searched the tables for an opening, beers in hand. We spotted a large table with empty seats near a senior gentleman sitting alone in the shade of a tree by the hedges. We didn't even have to ask if the seats were free before he invited us to sit. After starting a friendly conversation, our table mate informed us that he'd just finished a walk from 110th St. down to Battery Park, walking the roughly 8 miles via Broadway -- no doubt he was thirsty!

B.R. and I both had the Summer Love ale, which was satisfying and refreshing -- malty, without being too heavy, and with plenty of hop flavor. Our new companion, who was on holiday from Australia, looked to be having a Victory Lager, which is what B.R. had next. The Lager was a bit more bitter and had a deeper amber color than the style which inspired it, the German Helles.

When asked what our Aussie friend thought of the American beers that he'd tried, he said that he'd quite liked them, finding them more flavorful than the average Oz-brew. When pressed for a favorite he mentioned Blue Moon. When he offered to get us a round, I insisted that we get him a round, he being a guest in our city. I asked what he'd like, and he allowed me to choose for him. So, considering his liking Blue Moon, I got him a Witte from Ommegang. And, as expected, he liked it very much!

I went for the Headwaters Pale Ale, which hit the spot on a very warm, muggy afternoon. Its soft, malty body -- unbothered by any aggressive, biting hop bitterness -- went down slowly and gently, like a lazy summer sunset.
And nature was gladly represented in the beer garden. A tiny orange spider, seen at the end of the superimposed arrow above, set up shop on our bikes with an impressive web, created in the short time that it took for us to enjoy our two beers! We carefully collected the spider onto a nice big leaf before riding off, sparing him a bike ride.

Also on tap at the beer garden was Hop Devil, and, as in recent years, other breweries' beers in bottles and cans, such as Sierra Nevada Stout and some Sixpoint varieties, to accompany the standard outdoor grilled fare -- hot dogs, hamburgers, and the like.

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