Bitter & Esters brew maestros shepherd beer aficionados 21 and older through the basics of crafting their own libations during the two-hour introductory brewing courses. These knowledgeable instructors sprinkle their lessons with useful tidbits as their students immerse themselves in the process, communally brewing a bubbly batch of hops-laden liquid like witches on Super Bowl Sunday. Classes cover need-to-know facts about extracts, malts, grains, and yeasts as well as common trouble-shooting methods for when batches go awry. The hands on lesson includes all the necessary ingredients and reference materials required to whip up a hearty brew, with starter kits available for purchases if students want to continue fashioning beer in their home or underground speakeasies. Classes conclude with students sampling the fruits of previous home brewed labors, opening their taste buds to all the different possibilities craft beer making affords.
Little Town NYC unabashedly hearts New York. Of its three restaurants, two are located in iconic Manhattan spots: one in Union Square, the other on Theater District’s Restaurant Row. Little Town’s fancy for the Empire State shines through on the menu, too, with homestyle dishes such as the Adirondack chicken pesto and an Angus beef burger topped with crispy Berkshire bacon. The Suburb Backyard BBQ platter is piled high with enough buffalo wings, Nathan's hot dogs, and other locally inspired fare to feed a family of four.
Little Town NYC also takes great pride in its beer list, which features more than 100 local brews, including IPAs and amber ales that hail from breweries in Long Island, Ithaca, and Saratoga Springs. At the Restaurant Row location, you can enjoy a pilsner from Coney Island while sitting in a booth constructed from the beach’s old wooden boardwalk.
The Castello Plan broadens sippable horizons with an array of guided tasting menus presenting guests with five half-glass pours of wine or belgian beer. Customers can dictate the theme of their tasting by choosing from one of three flight options (a $50–$75 value, depending on tastings selected). The Wine 101 tasting elucidates the fundamental differences between merlot, chardonnay, and Welch's with samples of varietally correct ambrosia. The Wines of France flight, meanwhile, dabbles in the vinous offerings of such notable regions as the Loire Valley, Burgundy, and Champagne. Beer tastings guide patrons through the hoppy labyrinth of belgian blondes and dubbels, delving into the brewing history of Trappist monks and alternative uses for waffle irons along the way.
After five years managing a retail store, Ana realized she wanted to sell something else entirely: food. So she enrolled in culinary school, where she first honed the skills she now displays at Simplicity Wine Bar & Cafe. Her tapas range from spicy veggie empanadas served with pineapple-mango aioli to cayenne-spiced chocolate cupcakes. With numerous organic varietals to boot, a frequently updated selection of wine by the glass and bottle complements Ana's cuisine and confections.
When eyes aren't glued to Ana's artfully plated dishes, they're probably busy taking in Simplicity's nightly entertainment. The lineup includes plenty of café staples, such as poetry nights, open mics, and Sunday afternoon concerts by award-winning guitarist Jorge Arévalo Mateus. On weekends, live DJs convert the bar into a dancehall by spinning classic reggae and hip-hop tunes.
"I feel a little like a detective," reveals Luke Johnson, overseer of the cheese cave at Stinky Bklyn, to the New York Times. He continues, "I…try to steer people toward something new. If they say they don't like goat, I really push the goat because people don't realize there are so many varieties." And push they do. Staff members pass indulgent segments of their carefully aged cheeses, offering approachable wisdom to novices and a wide-ranging selection for aficionados. The charming Smith Street institution has opened a new location between Baltic and Butler, with fridges and pantries stocked with international morsels such as chocolates, oils, vinegars, and beer, as well as an impressive ham bar.
Visitors can request a peak at the temperature- and humidity-controlled cheese cave, where Luke and staff nurture each wheel through distinct aging processes. Cheeses dwell within the cavern for anywhere from a few days to a few years, undergoing washing, soaking in beer or brine, and the opportunity to view culturally enriching cave paintings. Owners Patrick Watson, Michele Pravda, and Chris Remy also added a green garden and patio behind the shop, providing an ideal place for tastings or a peaceful spot for enjoying one of the shop's artisan sandwiches.
Donna Da Vine attends to the palates of both wine connoisseurs and novice vino drinkers with an expansive selection of grape-gushing libations and wine classes. Roam the bottle-laden aisles of small-production grape nectars until a varietal such as Elsa Bianchi cabernet sauvignon ($14.99) or Morse Code shiraz ($13.99) leaps into your cart in a delicious ambush. Donna Da Vine also stocks a wide variety of champagnes, white wines, and rosé wines from around the world, such as the Austrian-made Hofer Zweigelt rosé ($18.99) and the Italian-made Masciarelli trebbiano ($12.99).
Food is something most people need sooner or later for general aliveness and energy for riding Ferris wheels. For $15, today's Groupon gets you $35 worth of natural and organic groceries from Fresh Fanatic. This 7,000- square-foot boutique grocery store in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill specializes in fresh everything. You’ll find fully prepared dishes, spices, and international cheeses on the wood shelves and coolly lit cold cases around the store.Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.