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Down on New York City's 42nd street, the throng of summer tourists jammed the sidewalks, but 16 floors above, a group was gathered at the new Nat Sherman rooftop cigar lounge, enjoying premium smokes, cocktails, and a bird's-eye view of Times Square.
I'm just going to come out and admit it: I am a big fan of growlers.
For those in the dark, a growler is a refillable container, typically glass, that usually comes in either 32- or 64-ounce versions. Beer enthusiasts fill up their growlers with draft beer from a bar, beer shop, restaurant or brewpub so that they can enjoy the beer later on at home or somewhere else. A growler's portability makes it perfect for hiking, beach trips, park picnics, a barbecue, a cigar HERF, or really anywhere that friends are gathering.
La Flor Dominicana is known for growing strong, gutsy tobacco on its farm in La Canela, Dominican Republic. Founded by the husband-and-wife team of Litto Gomez and Ines Lorenzo-Gomez, La Flor Domincana's cigars are often described as "meaty," "ballsy," "strong," and "powerful." You get the idea. (In its early years, though, the company strictly produced mild smokes.)
Hopheads like myself have another reason to rejoice as craft brewing pioneer Sierra Nevada has unveiled three new beers for 2015 that explore the limits of the tasty conical flower.
The trio of hoppy beers was revealed at a launch party last Thursday inside the warm confines of Kiabacca. The new craft beer and pizza bar was opened in New York City's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood only weeks ago by the same owner of Pony Bar, another craft beer bar that is right next door. I attended the event and while I was more than happy to sample the beers inside the bar, I couldn't help but wonder how they pair with a cigar.
My first taste of Flor de Caña, Nicaragua's famous rum, was poured for me by a Canadian expat.
I was on vacation in Nicaragua, about seven years ago, and I was boogie-boarding the Pacific waves off one of the beaches of Las Peñitas, a small community near León better known as a fishing village than a tourist destination. I caught a great wave and was riding it well when, suddenly, it crested and broke, sending me to the briny depths. Tumbling head-over-heels in the undertow, unable to get my bearings, I fought like hell to break the surface and take a deep breath.
The most impressive craft beer bar in Las Vegas isn't inside a hotel or casino along The Strip, but rather in a tiny strip mall near the airport.
Freakin' Frog is the name of the place, and while it may not look like a world-class beer bar from the outside, as the saying goes, it's what inside that counts. And while you won't see any freakin' sharks with freakin' laser beams inside Freakin' Frog, you will find loads of great beer, from the fairly common to the extremely rare.
Amid the surplus of alabaster buildings that surround the National Mall in Washington D.C. stands proud a pleasant outlier: the Pension Building. Home of the National Building Museum, the massive red-brick structure, a sterling example of Italian Renaissance design, sticks out like a stout in an IPA flight.
It's been said that there is no better time than now to be a craft beer lover in America, and that sentiment most certainly applies to New York City.
After all, there are now more than 2,400 breweries operating in America, according to the Brewer's Association, the most since the late 19th century, and 16 of those are operating out of The Big Apple as members of the New York City Brewers Guild. In short, it's easier than ever for beer geeks to get their craft fill.
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