Chatting with restaurateur Bill Reichenbach and bartender Joe Vicidomini at David Copperfield’s House of Beer runs the gamut. They can talk with passion about dozens, if not hundreds, of different yeasts. Breweries are not just places to get beer; breweries are families and institutions tied individual brewmasters known by name and personality.
What makes a good beer? Reichenbach, who also co-owns the Hop Devil Grill and Belgian Room and moderates the New York Beer Meetup Group, names two simple factors: taste and balance. “You should always trust your senses. You don’t need an expert to tell you if you like it or not.”
Vicidomini is more critical: “I judge beer based on what it says its going to be. You can have perfectly acceptable beer, but they might call it a stout but it tastes like a wheat.” In other words, the brew had best live up to its own expectations.
Besides the big-name commercial beers every distributor delivers, several superior and locally-made beers can be found across the city. Here’s a checklist of who’s-who and what’s-what to keep track of what you like on tap.