Nearly 20 years ago I discovered Heartland Brewery in the Union Square area of Manhattan. At that time I had just discovered micro brews and craft beer. I was never one for mainstream American Lagers like Bud, Coors, Miller. They are fine when you need an ice-cold beer at a backyard barbecue on a hot summer day, but they will never have the complexity or flavor of the hundreds of other available beers out there that have their own personalities and flavor profiles. So when I first stumbled into Heartland Brewery, I also discovered a pretty good menu of some classics but other things that deviated from the standard pub menu. Soon I was taking home a glass liter jug of their seasonal brews. One of which was Pumpkin Ale. You have to love a place to dine that takes pride in brewing their own beer and takes the time to educate newcomers if they wish.
Fast forward to 2016, and I am in New York for New Year’s Day. Friends of my wife are in from South of the Border and want to have lunch. We are in Times Square and I know nearly every place is either a chain or a tourist trap, so its going to be difficult for me to decide where we can eat without getting robbed. They had Italian last night, and the husband loves beer. So, I give them a choice over in Times Square of a noted Italian Place or Heartland Brewery Chophouse next door. I was neutral but I was outnumbered either way and they chose Heartland and I am glad they did.
I guess when going out to drink, its important to eat for obvious reasons (you should never drink on an empty stomach unless you definitely also like getting sick at the same time). So, perfect choice. One menu item caught my eye and I remember it from more than a decade ago, its the meatloaf. However, its not as good as I remember it. Its very fancy now with onion straw garnish and a fancy plate. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the update since 1997, but the recipe itself has changed. Either that, or my tastes have evolved. No problem, but my wife says my version of meatloaf is better. Her friend gets the the same, but his wife the Buffalo Burger which she really enjoys. That would have been my choice too. Meatloaf for lunch is a bit too ambitious because its heavy, and in this case, it was too “meaty”. It seemed homogenized, like a texture of a pretty solid paté. Not terrible, just not as good as I remembered it. But all is well, I order the Buffalo Spring Rolls because I wanted just something not as big, and as it turns out my wife ended up eating half of them and I wound up finishing her meatloaf. She is a picky eater, but as long as I order for her based on her tastes, I know that if she decides to take my meal, I know I still come out of it satisfied.
Back to the reason we came her to begin with is the beer. They offer a flight of beer, or in this case they call it a “Voyage”. Basically its a small sampling of each of the varieties of beer they brew. It works out really well since they offer 6 which vary a great deal from light to dark.
Here was the breakdown in the order presented in their menu and brought to the table:
All of these beers were great. While perhaps not the most complex or full bodied, a flight hits the spot and really lets any beer lover walk away with a sense of satisfaction, novice or expert. I love the IPAs and the wheat, so The Harvest Wheat and India Pale Ale were my favorites. Red ales are my least favorite, but their Red Rooster was very enjoyable, I could easily drink a pint of that. Farmer Jon’s Oatmeal Stout is very heavy on the chocolate and coffee, and while it resembles a Guiness Stout, it has a flavor all its own. I’d come back for this flight anytime.
This place is a winner just as it was 20 years ago. And especially since its local to Manhattan and employee owned, this is one place you can feel good about visiting even if it resembles a chain or franchise. No guilt here, this place is the real deal and a great experience.