Blog by Nigel Walsh


Yelp? Yipe!

Hold on to your pint glasses folks, we have a lot of words today…

Every now and then I decide to beat myself around the head and search online for a cask in NYC using the old online resources that I used to utilize 10-15 years ago.

This past Saturday was one of those “I’m bored, let’s see what we can dig up” occasions.

I started by scrolling through a dozen or so pages of Beer Menus and did not find a single cask mentioned.

I am not surprised; I have done this same search several times, periodically, with the same result.

What happened to Beer Menus? They used to be so useful to me, both in NYC and in DC when I was there.

So, I put on my tourist hat and decided to check a couple of “can’t fail” options, Foursquare and Yelp.

And I wasn’t going to be content with a cask ale bar, I demanded a top-10 cask ale bar.

It was a real trip down memory lane, or possibly silly street.


Let us see what Foursquare has to say about cask ale in NYC.

This comes from a top-15 article “published” this past week, so it has to be accurate and up to date, doesn’t it?

Blind Tiger Ale House

Cask bar? No, but…

Sadly, they no longer have a permanent cask ale program, but they do occasionally have an event where a firkin or pin on the end of the bar is included as part of the festivities; the most recent that I attended featured a Wild East Belligerence barley wine cask, and I got to hang out with the good folks from Wild East, Fifth Hammer and KCBC as I remember.

I love this place, and have a long history with the Tiger, going all the way back to their opening at the original Hudson Street location; yep, I do have a plaque (#10 I believe) in the Canyon of Heroes.

This is still a mighty fine craft beer bar and deserves a place in any craft beer top-10 list in NYC, but it probably should not be considered as a cask bar.

Still, it is one to watch, and I do watch it.


Cask bar? No longer.

This was a really innovative place when it first opened, sitting several floors and a wonky elevator ride (two if you were really brave) above the Eataly Italian market diagonally opposite the Flatiron Building.

It has links to Dogfish Head and Sam Caglione but its initial beers all came from a tiny glass-enclosed nano-brewery that you passed as you entered the covered rooftop bar.

And the beers were all quite unique, a thyme pale ale, a chestnut mild and an Italian wit were the first three that I had from their custom handpumps on the bar, just 30-40 yards from their place of origin.

Being high up but lower than many of the landmark buildings in the area, you got a great view through the glass roof and walls, although I expect that view has changed significantly with all of the new construction.

I don’t know when they stopped brewing there, but recent visits (post 2015) were disappointing on the beer front; craft and crafty beers, just not the homemade goodies.

It is still a unique place to visit and a good place to take out-of-town visitors, but it is not a cask bar anymore.

The Pony Bar UES

Cask bar? No longer.

This was a local hangout for many years and a reliable spot for a cask or two when I would be back in NYC for the weekend; my little black book records that I have had around 50 different beers from their two beer engines over the years.

Unfortunately, the casks just started to tail off, beginning somewhere around 2016-2017, and speaking to one of their bartenders recently I learned that they had no immediate plans to revive them.

It is a real shame as they are right around the corner from JWF and would have made a regular easy crawl … of sorts.

Incidentally, I was also a bit of a regular in the Hell’s Kitchen location before the split and renaming as Hellcat Annies (it now appears to be Scruffy Duffy’s Tap Room); it was on my fortnightly walking route to get the bus to DC so I would swing in whenever the timing worked, which apparently was quite often as I also have around 40 different beers recorded for the place.

Cask Bar & Kitchen

Cask bar? Yes, and not in name only.

I was a little concerned about the Cask Bar.

The focus was always as much about the Kitchen as the Cask, and when I checked them out and started following them on Instagram, my concerns were not alleviated; all of the posts there were of food and cocktails.

Very nice, but…

It was never really a place that I frequented regularly as I just had no real reason to be in that part of town often, and I still don’t.

With that in mind, I set off in August of last year to get a visual confirmation; the visit is documented in this post

I was in the neighborhood later in 2023 and swung by again; the cask is surviving for now.

The Shakespeare

Cask bar? Yes, it sure is.

Another place that I do not get to very often; I am just not in the right area of NYC at the right time … which would be opening time.

A lovely little pub with good food and usually two beers on the handpumps.

Again, I posted about my last visit here.

I really must make an effort to get to midtown in midafternoon.

Drop Off Service

Cask bar? Yes, hanging in there.

You are taking your chances with this one as the cask is as likely to be off as much as on.

It was on when I dropped in unexpectedly last year.

But it is still there and besides, it is a pretty interesting place to visit if you are anywhere near the East Village/Alphabets in the afternoon or evening.

It has a certain authentic atmosphere compared to its more touristy or student-centered neighbors.

Beer Authority

Cask bar? No longer.

Another pub in another area of Manhattan that I rarely pass through; I used to do it as part of a midtown west crawl which usually included the much-lamented Rattle and Hum bars.

It is a strange cavernous place with a touristy/traveler vibe and a friendly-enough but usually distracted bar staff on those occasions that I did visit.

It has a lot of beers both on draft and in bottle or can, so on paper it appears to be an impressive craft beer bar, but there is just a certain transience about the location that is a little off-putting.

For all I know it still serves cask, but all indications point to the negative.

My last confirmed visit and last confirmed cask was back in 2014, but I still check on them online every now and then.

No casks listed on their web site and no cask check-ins on untapped in many years.

Beer Culture

Cask bar? No, it never really was.

Sadly, this one never really took off as a cask-oriented bar.

It should be celebrated as one of the original beer store/taproom combos, with a relatively small, curated selection of craft beers on the bar and an extensive collection of bottles and cans in a wall of refrigerators.

And then there was the handpump.

I managed to find it operational and serving cask ale on only five occasions, all shortly after it first opened.

It is a shame as it is on one of my regularly scheduled walking routes.

Caledonia Bar

Cask bar? No, never was.

Innis & Gunn = beer aged in single-malt whisky casks = cask beer.

Dubious math.

I wish it had a handpump, I really do.

 Third Avenue Ale House

Cask bar? No longer.

Like its sister bar the Amsterdam Ale House, it experimented with cask ale for a short while several years ago, but the handpumps have long since been removed.

Another shame for me as I can roll out of my building, trip over the curb, and stagger right in the front door of the Third Avenue Alehouse …

… or did I get that backwards?

Good burgers though and an interesting-enough draft beer collection.

Overall, a nice neighborhood bar.

 Barcade – Chelsea

Cask bar? No longer.

There are four Barcade bars in the greater NYC area, the original in Brooklyn, this one and another in Manhattan at St. Marks Place, and an outlier at Grove Street in Jersey City.

All four used to have a reliable cask ale on beer engine, all of the time.

I had chalked up over fifty visits to one or the other over several years, all enjoyable.

All victims of Covid.

I am happy that the venues continue to exist but saddened that the Barcade cask program is no more.

 Jones Wood Foundry

Cask bar? Oh yes!

Home from home.

Good food, good atmosphere, both when it is quiet and also when it is packed.

One or two casks on all of the time with a good turnover and enthusiastic following …

… no, not just me.


Cask bar? No, never really was.

The original craft beer bar in NYC (sorry Peculier Pub) and a wonderful place in its heyday, when its owners Ray and Dennis were still around … RIP to both.

I had my first Sierra Nevada Pale Ale there and returned for many more, plus many other iconic brews from all over the country.

I had my last ever Youngs Winter Warmer there, it turned up one day in a pin on the near corner of the bar to my surprise and joy.

A handpump had a brief residence on the bar, so brief that I only got to sample its output on just two occasions; a Bear Republic Racer 5 and an Indian Summer from Swale Brewing smuggled over from Sittingbourne in Kent.

But the place changed, imperceptibly at first, and I moved on to bigger shinier things, the afore mentioned Blind Tiger Ale House.

Fortunately, there was to be a second location in NYC in Williamsburg Brooklyn.

Now sadly closed, it was not only a cask bar, but was home base for the legendary Alex Hall and the site of many NYC cask festivals in the past.


Cask bar? No longer.

A neighborhood bar similar in concept to The Third Avenue Ale House, with good food and a small but well-curated craft beer list.

Its handpump lasted a little longer, for all I know it may still be attached to the bar, but there have been no indications that it is still in use in several years now.

I used to rely on Beer Menus to alert me to casks in the city, and they directed me at Valhalla maybe a dozen times over the course of a couple of years around 2014.

I can tell it was a while ago by the list of brewers whose wares I sampled on cask at the time, Breckenridge, Smuttynose, Speakeasy, Stone and Thirsty Dog; they bring back memories, but that is all there is now.

 George Keeley

Cask bar? No longer.

I feel that I am repeating myself here.

Another neighborhood locals bar with good beer and, for a while at least, a beer engine.

I visited here for a real ale more frequently, usually as part of a west side crawl that included two of the Dive Bars and the Amsterdam Ale House.

I was more likely to find a NYC brewed beer on the handpump here; Bronx Brewery, Brooklyn Brewery and SingleCut were all seen over a two maybe three-year period.

So, how did Foursquare do?

Not so good – The overall score for Foursquare was just four out of fifteen, with an honorable mention for the Blind Tiger.

Not a very useful tool for somebody who really wants to sample a cask ale in NYC.

Notice that despite the page title, and the initial search term states NYC, this listing is very Manhattan-centric, so we can see that the target audience is probably not real seekers of cask, it is for the tourists, the British tourists maybe?


Now Yelp only calls their list a top-10, but it just keeps on up to 11 and beyond.

Once we get past the sponsored results we get to the real meat of the thing:

Cask Bar & Kitchen

Cask bar? Yes, see above.

McSorleys Old Ale House

Cask bar? Say what?

What can be said about McSorleys that hasn’t already been said?

Nothing, that’s what.

It has never been and will probably never be a cask bar.

Cool place to take visitors though.

You really have to wonder what the Yelp algorithm was doing here.

Blind Tiger Ale House

Cask bar? No, see above.

The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog

Cask bar? No longer.

I am sure that I had a Dead Rabbit Dark Mild (brewed by Sixpoint) on handpump there once, but now it appears to have been replaced by a draft Dead Rabbit Red Ale (also Sixpoint).

No handpump here.

Another cool, and very friendly place though.

White Oak Tavern

Cask bar? No, never was.

Well, look what we found here!

This is why I occasionally use these tools.

Here is a pub that I never knew about before, so Yelp has found a real winner here.

#5 in the top-10 list too.

Oh … wait a minute …

I am sure this is a nice place; it seems so from their web page; but cask ale?

They do not even list any kind of ale until you get past the wine list.

The Churchill Tavern

Cask bar? Never was.

I have walked past this place many times and seriously thought about going in, and after checking out the food menu, I am even more intrigued.

It also looks like a good place to catch a football or rugby game.

But cask ale, sadly not.

The Brazen Head

Cask bar? No longer.

The Brazen Head has had a long history of cask ale and still lists cask as a category on their beer menu; it was also an early venue for Alex Hall cask events.

But unfortunately, by my reckoning they haven’t had a cask on in over five years, much the pity.

But hey! Yelp found it, and it is not in Manhattan!

Good job Yelp.

124 Old Rabbit Club

Cask bar? Doubtful.

A speakeasy!

A grunge and punk themed speakeasy!

What a cool place to hide a beer engine.

Or not.

The Shakespeare

Cask bar? Yes, See above.

 Drop Off Service

Cask bar? Yes, see above.

In conclusion, Yelp were even worse than Foursquare when looking at actual hits.

So, just three out of ten in the top-10 for Yelp.

And then it finishes with another sponsored result, but it does go on for many additional pages listing other beer bars around the city.

Here are some highlights:

  • On page 3 of the results at #23, we finally get to Jones Wood Foundry.
  • Also, on page 3 at #29, we get the first reference for Spuyten Duyvil (our cover photo for the day). I went here this Saturday and found out the old-fashioned way (legwork and memory) that they still have an operational cask. It just happened to have kicked some time prior to my arrival. I hung out there for a while and made do with an Orval.
  • At the bottom of page 4 at #40, we see Strong Rope Brewery; a nice entry, even if the permanent cask is not yet available.
  • Wild East Brewery appears at the top of page 5 as #41, shame…
  • Also on page 5 at #45 is Minetta Tavern. This is a bit of an unknown for me; I haven’t managed to visit yet, but it was long-rumored to have a beer engine installed at the bar. I will have to save up my pennies and make a reservation to wander in and try one of their burgers … I hear they are good.
  • We need to get all the way down to #68 on page 7 to find The Grand Delancey, oy!
  • Finally, as I was about to give up, I found Fifth Hammer on page 10 at #95.

So, a top-100… you get your money’s worth here…


Next, I would like to introduce Yipe! A top-10 (well, eight and counting) list of NYC cask ale locations for the desperate and/or the persistent.

I list these in no particular order.

As folks who read this blog know, my favorite beer is the one in front of me, and my favorite bar is the one that I am leaning on.

The Yipe! List:

  • Jones Wood Foundry
  • Fifth Hammer
  • Wild East
  • The Shakespeare
  • The Grand Delancey
  • Cask Bar & Kitchen
  • Drop-off Service
  • Spuyten Duyvil

With honorable mentions to:

  • Strong Rope
  • KCBC
  • Torst
  • All other locations that would occasionally put a pin on a bar.

As you can see, it is not a very long list these days, but it is not lacking in quality and commitment (oh, I hope), and I have deliberately limited it to locations within the five boroughs.

If I missed anybody, please chirp up.

I will try to keep this list up to date, and maybe move it to a more prominent (or recurring) location in the blog, but I have no intention of emulating Alex Hall’s monumental (if now also sentimental) cask ale site, which sadly I can no longer seem to access.

Keep searching folks, cask is still out there …

Scorecard w/e 1/16/24

In the past week, The Cask Whisperer has enjoyed the following casks:

  • Dutchess Mizmaze ESB @ Jones Wood Foundry
  • Strong Rope Tavern Ale @ Jones Wood Foundry
  • Old Glenham Spinners Stout @ Jones Wood Foundry

I also had an Orval at Spuyten Duyvil … the cask had kicked.

Upcoming Cask Festivals

1/21/2024: 6th Annual Cask Ales FUNdraiser at The Brewers Collective

2/3/2024: Strong Rope 8th Caskiversary

3/24/24: An Afternoon of Casks at Nod Hill Brewing, Ridgefield CT

3/30/2024: Cask.On at Cask & Vine, Derry NH

4/10/2024 – 4/13/2024 (5 sessions): 25th Annual New England Real Ale Exhibition (NERAX)

11/8/2024: Two Roads Cask Fest

11/9/2024: 20th Annual Blue Point Cask Ale Festival


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