It's a long, high-ceilinged place with an upstairs largely given over to diners. I had a choice of four or five craft beers and I chose Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale 5.8%. As I had sat at a table, I was served by a waitress who brought the check over (bill as we would call it). It stated one beer, not the two I'd had. I mentioned this to her and was gratefully informed that as it was happy hour, the price was two for one. Happy with this news, I left her a larger tip than otherwise I would have done - we Fittleworths always pay our dues!

The staff at this Pourhouse all wore t-shirts promoting the bar with the superb legend on the back; "If found, please return to the Village Pourhouse..." I decided to keep an eye out for any staff wandering the streets so I could find the excuse to return them to the bar and have another drink.

I trotted out after two pints, planning to visit the House of Brews across the road, but I noticed another bar just up the steps a couple of doors from the 'Pourhouse. Deacon Brodie's Tavern is a Scottish pub in the heart of NYC. The beer selection isn't huge but the 'Scottish' ones I had were both excellent and the Scottish barchaps (real-live Scots, not "My Grandmother on my dog's side once visited Scotchland" Americans) were friendly and efficient each time. It's a small bar with dark wood furniture and as is quite common in NYC, it was rather dimly lit.

From this tiny bastion of Scottishness I crossed the road to the House of Brews. Like the Pourhouse, there are a couple of these in NYC and both are worth a visit for their large selections of bottled and draught beers. Food is big in both House of Brews. At busier times you will be met by a young lady as you enter who will enquire if you will be eating with them. In NYC, and the USA as a whole I think, if you are just drinking, it is usual to sit at the bar. If you plan to eat a meal, expect waitress service at a table although food can usually be eaten at the bar.

Leaving that particular House of Brews was difficult, but with the Pony Bar only a few blocks away, perhaps not 'that' difficult. All but one time I ventured into The Pony Bar, I was asked for I.D. As chap who can recall white dog turds, I flatter myself that I don't look 36 but I DEFINITELY do not look even close to 21! That'll be a vestige of their Puritan alcohol paranoia.

Once you have vaulted the I.D. hurdle, the Pony Bar is superb. It can be found on 10th Avenue, at the corner of 45th Street and has eighteen or so craft beers, most over 5%, as is common in NYC. This was one of the few bars that had been recommended to me before I departed Blighty and I was not disappointed. My first visit was a little after lunchtime on a Saturday and (for a change) I was sensible and decided I should indulge in the old nosebag. The menu is appropriate for a bar and there's no table service. I ordered a $9 Fried Oyster and Bacon sarnie and chips (instead of coleslaw). My jetlagged noddle expected chips but of course, in the USA, chips are crisps. They were good home-made crisps though and the sarnie was excellent. In hindsight (that oh-so-powerful view) I should have eaten another.

The choice of beer in the Pony Bar really is jolly annoying - so many that there is no reasonable way you could try them all in a day. On my initial visit, the barmaid was very friendly and helpful when asked about beers. My first was Ithaca Nut Brown Ale at 4.0% and was very good and not dissimilar to Sam Smith's Nut Brown Ale. I also tried Mad Jack's Fighting Irwin IPA at 4.7% and Chelsea's NY State of Mind at 6%. All were around $7 each. When my food arrived, I was also given a large glass of water, which I thought was a great idea. If it hadn't been placed in front of me I wouldn't have thought about it but as it was there, it was very welcome.

As I was wondering which of the Pony Bar's excellent brews to sample next, the barmaid unexpectedly rang an old-fashioned firebell behind the bar. I shuddered at the thought that I may have to leave before having a decent crack at their beer menu. The room had fallen silent and to my relief instead of calling last orders, she cried out; "Er, guys! When I ring the bell that you're supposed to shout 'New Beer!' so I'll do it again." She did so and most of the bar joined in the celebration. Audience participation, you can't beat it!

Boko Fittleworth
www.houseofbrewsny.com
theponybar.com