International House of Beer 

The Village Pourhouse, 64 Third Ave.
Rating: 3 L's

I stood on a bustling Third Avenue corner, contemplating the task at hand. I asked myself how much I really loved beer. I questioned my dignity. I wondered whether or not someone was going to see me cross the threshold of normalcy into this third tier of frat-house hell. After a couple deep breaths, I puffed up my chest, scrounged up my courage, and walked into the Village Pourhouse for the jetsetting “Beers Around the World” tasting put on by owner/beer sommelier Kevin Hooshangi.

 Once inside, the mind-changing powers of pure 24-tapped eye-candy become aggressively apparent: the ear-piercing noise and ADD-inducing TVs can create a bit of a challenge for even the most engaging of speakers. But there’s something uniquely comforting about the incredible beer list that plays center stage during the monthly tastings.

 After a brief introduction from Mr. Hooshangi, the journey into the land of fine-crafted brew commences, with extra time taken to explain everything from how to pour specific beers, to how and why one should swirl that floral Belgian they hold in their Bud-victimized hands. Kevin is a firm believer in the idea that beer should “never be pretentious,” and it’s this ideology that keeps the tasting open for the lousiest question. Step by step he guides drinkers from watery immaturity into a tornado of flavors from around the world. On my particular visit, the likes of Blue Point Toasted Lager (USA), Hitachino Ginger (Japan), Orval (Belgium), La Chouffe (Belgium), and Sinebrychoff Porter (Finalnd) were served to show the depth of the Pourhouse’s vast inventory. Each tasting consists of a general theme (this one must’ve been “How to Forget Your Name in Less Than a Belgian Bottle”) with Kevin hand-picking the selections based on his vast knowledge of 50-plus bottled beers.
 
Despite all the quality beer, the Pourhouse still has a hard time shaking the neon-noise that scares many a beer-lover away. The three themed rooms definitely provide options for return visits (well, for two at least), but the at-a-10-when-I-need-you-at-a-6 atmosphere, kind of hurts the monthly tastings. Luckily, Mr. Hooshangi carries enough personality and passion for all-things-beer to help drinkers not only appreciate the liquid craft, but take pride in the fact they just survived a Swedish porter and three renditions of the Georgetown fight song that nobody knew existed.


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