Down south on Manhattan, where the neatly numbered grid of streets and avenues give way to a more chaotic jumble of streets, things are changing. Gritty old tenements are giving way to modern apartments, old workshops, warehouses and other small businesses are giving way to the new and glittering. Ethnic groups move ind and move out, as always. The Chinese, who decades ago took over most of Little Italy, are now moving across the river.
You can hardly hope for New York City, of all places on the planet, to stand still. The run down areas were probably not worth shedding tears for, and gentrification usually means that the facades are restored, often with better materials then they originally had.
Beer hunting in NYC gives a good example of how the old and the new coexist a few blocks from each other. I won’t make any predictions for how long that situation is going to continue, but the economic downturn is probably not going to give any boost to urban renewal.
My destination of the afternoon was an old warehouse combining as a shop open to the general public. New Beer Distributors have been around since the late sixties on a quiet street with small shops facing a park. The cashier is safely protected behind bulletproof glass, a reminder that SoHo used to be a rather rough area until recently. No trimmings, not attempts at coziness here. There are a few draft beers available, I’m not sure if they are by the glass or in growlers, but they are not for sale on Mondays.
As if I needed them.
There are, according to their web site, 800 beers available. Lots of fine Belgians in bottles large and small, Germans, British. Quite a few Italians you’d have problems finding in their country or origin.
I sure there are lagers from the far corners of the globe, too. I don’t spend my time checking. I go right for the US beer shelves and start to make my pick. There is Stone, there is Dogfish Head, there is Rogue. There are canned craft ales from various brewers, very handy to put in a suitcase.
No reason to worry about buying full sixpacks here, at least when you spend a hundred bucks.
My backpack is filled, and we have large shopping bags from Century 21 to haul as well. Now it is a matter of getting back to the hotel. No taxis cruising outside the shop, so we walk up to the intersection to hail one there.
And what do I find at the intersection? Whole Foods Bowery. Now, we had been to the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle a few days before, so I knew there were lots of temptations there. The thought, however, of entering the depths of the store with all the carrier bags stopped me. Except for one thing. The corner of the building, where you would put a magnet to draw in customers, was right in front of me. They did not have a bakery shop, a deli or an outlet for gourmet coffee or chocolate there. This was where they had placed their beer room.
You walk in right from the street, and, while many of the craft brews are the same as in the shop a few hundred yards away, the contrast could hardly be bigger. All beers prominently displayed, lots of air and light. 8 craft beers on tap for growler takeaways.
I had more beers than I had planned to buy already. But I had to buy a bottle of He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny R.I.P.A.
Which shop would I prefer? I would go to NBD first, especially since you are allowed to split and mix the six packs however you want, and I think the prices are a bit lower. But, if I was a resident, I would then walk over to Whole Foods to fill my growler. The best of both worlds!
There is a no photo policy in the Whole Foods stores, so you’ll have to make do with a photo looking in through the door.