Top Hops Beer Shop
Taps: 18 / Bottles: 166
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 55 | Reviews: 20 | Display Reviews Only:
4.72/5 rDev +7.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
So I would like to review Top Hops by sharing a recent experience I had there.
On Friday I celebrated the World Cup by drinking Stone's latest iteration of their Enjoy By IPA. The beer prides itself and is celebrated for its ridiculous hops bill (I believe this iteration had 12+ hops) and of course, for a hophead like myself, is very much heaven in a bottle.
I was naturally very excited when I walked into Top Hops on Saturday afternoon, after lunch and before the afternoon matches were scheduled to start, when I saw Enjoy By on the wall as one of the draft offerings. Despite just having had it out of the bottle the night before, I decided I'd get it on draft anyway since it's a solid brew I wouldn't mind having at any time of the day. To my disappointment, when the beer manager poured me my snifter full of what is supposed to be a hop canonball infusion directly into my mouth, the aroma that had intoxicated me the day before was lacking for the brew, and the malt had completely taken over the hop bill.
At first I decided to give the store the benefit of the doubt and gave the drink another sip, but it seemed like I was teetering with Einstein's definition of madness, as what was supposed to be juicy and bitter just tasted... sweet. I immediately started questioning everything about myself -- maybe my taste buds were finally shot from eating all the spicy food and drinking nothing but IPAs over the summer months, until I realized I'd had nothing spicy or sweet or bitter for lunch, or even dinner the day before.
For about three long minutes I found myself drowning in an awkward mix of despair and confusion, at which point I decided to voice it in hopes that someone might commiserate or maybe even share in my delusion. I then asked the server to pour himself a small glass and tell me if he thought the beer was off as well -- to which he told me that it tasted just like how he thought previous iterations did and seeing as how the keg lines were cleaned just two days ago, he had no reason to doubt that something was wrong with the beer.
This threw me into a maelstrom of confusion, at which point I decided to momentarily give up and order myself a glass of Sierra Nevada Hoptimum (another hop bomb) just to make sure my taste buds weren't shot. When the server poured me my glass, to my delight I could immediately smell the hops leaving the glass and the bitterness this time coated my tongue the way a proper whole-cone IPA is supposed to. That's when I decided that there could be only one way to settle this debate, and that was to do a side by side comparison for Enjoy By between the bottle (which they were carrying that day) and draft -- the one thing the server and I did agree on is that whereas there is discrepancies between serving from the bottle and draft/cask, it shouldn't be as dramatic as the difference I was perceiving.
So I talked the server/beer manager into letting me do a blind test between the bottle serving and the draft serving which he didn't seem to mind doing at all and even told me that if the difference between the bottle serving and the draft serving were really as magnanimous as I thought (for which I would first have to correctly identify which one came from the bottle and which from tap) my drinks would be on the house.
It turned out their Enjoy By tap was nearing its end and we were getting the dregs of the brew, hence the absence of the hoppy aroma and flavor -- in the end the beer manager kept his word and I got my Enjoy Bys on the house.
The point of this story being: the servers/beer managers that work here are certified cicerones. They take beer very seriously and love talking and even educating others about beer. Their frequently rotating tap selection always has at least one very hard to find beer available and their bottle selections are among the best I've seen in the city.
If you actually enjoy beer and think of it as more than a social drink, Top Hops is right up your alley. If you prefer the usual Bud/Miller/Coors and beer that tastes like anything other than water intimidates you, then I guess there's just more for me to enjoy.
07-15-2014 13:56:40 | More by amano_h
Top Hops Beer Shop in New York, NY
96 out of 100 based on 55 ratings.