Craft beer bars in supermarkets, who would have thought?

Have you been to any DeCicco & Sons’ super-bar-markets in the area? It is quite an improvement over just regular shopping for kale and garbanzo beans with no on-site hydration available. Not only do different stores have unique craft beer pub feels and ambience (Armonk’s bar is suspended over the supermarket), they have amazing selections of rotating, seasonal craft brews offered by knowledgeable and friendly staff! In addition, similar to your favorite “beer bar,” they often offer complimentary small samples, flights of four or five different beers, full glasses to be enjoyed on-site, and growlers to go.

It is officially a good hang at these supermarkets.

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My research shows that the DeCicco & Sons in Brewster, Armonk, Millwood, and newly opened Somers (see below) have these shopping oases, but check out their website, deciccoandsons.com/ontap, for more. So, the next time you hear, “Honey, we’re out of eggs,” try to play it cool and respond with something like, “Well... if I must...” before heading out of the house for that errand of love.

Field Trip – Somers DeCicco’s
266 US-202, Somers, deciccoandsons.com

A local suds connoisseur and well-known Bon Vivant and I paid an afternoon visit to the aforementioned Somers DeCicco’s and it was time well spent. The overall space fits nicely into the area with tall ceilings, wood plank rafters, and steel suspensions.

Speaking of suspensions, there is a craft beer bar up there! A wide-open inviting space with a 56-seat bar surrounding 33 taps with TVs playing sports on mute and cool music in the background makes for a “happy place” for sure. The beer selections are top notch and I was happy to find some new favorites in our 4-ounce flights. Complimentary samples (e.g. try before buy) were “no problem” from the adept bartenders.

The food menu is what I would call a perfect simple bar menu: apps such as crispy garbanzo beans and truffle chips, wings, burgers, and a kid’s menu all with different combinations of sides and sauces.

Speaking of kids, there is a children’s play area, which seemed to account for several dads who were “food shopping” and spending quality time with their little ones. On top of it all there, there’s an outdoor patio reminiscent of a ski lodge après-ski setting with Adirondack chairs to take in the beautiful views of our Northern Westchester landscape.

Good Supermarket Selections

OK, so not all supermarkets have terrific craft beer bars (yet), but let’s applaud those that are actively participating in the craft beer game and give a kind nudge to others to engage a bit more. Here are a few criteria to look for in supermarket craft offerings:

  • No dust! Though a general cleanliness criterion, dust = age. And hops (found in IPAs) have a shelf life of about 1-3 months before the hop aroma and flavors deteriorate. Consuming within one month of the “born on” date is optimal.  #KeepHopsFreshAndHappy.
  • Well organized. This is like the movie “High Fidelity,” where there are infinite ways to organize a record collection. That being said, make it obvious with signage.
  • Rotating selections. Let’s see the seasons change. Buying Oktoberfest in spring is just plain wrong.
  • Allow mixing. This may be an advanced feature but I love the places that have six-pack carriers handy and allow you to mix and match as many brands and flavors as you wish. Note: I have Western New York roots and the famous Wegmans mini-chain was born in that area and offers epic beer selections along with the pioneering the mixing approach. Wegmans is coming to Harrison; check them out.
  • Supermarkets that are on the beer app, Untappd. There will be more on that below.

Here is my view of craft offerings in a few of our local supermarkets (and a mini mart), ordered by preference.

  • DeCicco and Sons. All locations have thoughtfully curated and extensive lineups and I recommend browsing their aisles ASAP.
  • Shell Gas Station & Mini Mart, 9 Haines, Road, Bedford Hills. I was quite surprised to find a remarkable selection of top-notch craft beers here! Singlecut, Pipeworks, Sloop Juice Bomb. It is located by the southbound 39S entrance to the Saw Mill River Parkway.
  • Green’s Natural Foods, 666 Lexington Ave., Mount Kisco. Concise and creative. In the right-hand corner of the store, you’ll find a nice variety of cold crafty selections, e.g. Dales Pale Ale, Six Point, Montauk. Rogue, Abita.
  • Stop & Shop, 195 North Bedford Road, Mount Kisco. Some kudos is deserved here as they have Bell’s Two Hearted Ae, which has won consecutive Best Beer in America marks, as voted by the Home Brewers Association. It is a well-balanced malt-hop IPA (7% abv) that you should try.
  • ShopRite, 747 Bedford Road, Bedford Hills. This is a good place to get some standard brews (Miller, Pabst, etc.) and a smattering of a few crafts (Dogfish Head, Captain Lawrence, Two Roads).

Please reach out with supermarkets you know of with good selections and I’ll include them in future columns.

Some Recommendations

While you are trolling the supermarket beer aisle, please scout out these recommendations:

  • Montauk Brewing Company Wave Chaser IPA (6.4% abv). This up-and-coming brewery from the Long Island town of the same name has hit our local market. Cards on table: My niece works there (I am jealous). That being said, I strongly recommend their Wave chaser IPA with tropical and piney notes. Also, try their Watermelon Session Ale (4.9% abv), which has just the right amount of watermelon.
  • Glutenberg Red Ale (5%). As you may recall I avoid gluten in solid forms but, because beer makes me happy, the gluten in beer does not bother me. “Hmm,” you’re thinking. Anyhow, the gluten-free beer market has been barren for a while and the choices that have come to market have been bland at best. Kudos to Glutenberg Brewing out of Montreal and especially this Red Ale, a style that you unfortunately do not see much of these days. Taste-wise, it brings together mild roasted nuts, coffee and caramel in a delicious concoction, yet void of gluten.
  • von Trapps Golden Helles Lager (4.9%). Helles yes! Thank you, Austria, for inventing this beer style delivered via this Stowe, Vt. brewery, and especially this particular lovely, flavorful, session-y lager. Bring some cans of these Austrian friends to the beach or BBQ this summer.
  • Industrial Arts Wrench IPA (6.8%). I like this brewery’s products a lot. In particular, Wrench is a fruity IPA concoction sourced with slight piney-ness from West Coast hops. Other choices to try, all with thematic names, include: Power Tools IPA (7.1%), grapefruit tones with moderate bitterness, and Pocket Wrench IPA (4.5%), if you are in session mode.
  • Kolsch style. This is a nod to this whole style now that we are in the midst of summer heat. These beers are light in strength and color with a crisp, perfectly balanced malt and hop flavor. Our Captain Lawrence makes a good one with Clearwater Kolsch (4.8%). Please also try the fantastic Schafly Kolsch (4.8%) out of St. Louis, if you can find it.

There’s an App for That

As you continue to enjoy the broad array of brewer’s brands, styles, etc. you should keep track of what you like, dislike, and locations to purchase the ones you prefer. As has become typical, there’s an app for that, and it is called Untappd.

I religiously use the Untappd (no “e”) app on my phone for looking up, tracking, and rating the beers I’ve tried or would like to (there’s a wish list). It has a feature to sort and filter on beers you’ve had and rated highly so when you’re wandering down a beer isle of your local supermarket or beer emporium and can’t recall if you liked a particular beer, just look up the rating you gave it! There is a contained social media aspect to it as Untappd allows you to connect to other craft-minded folks to see and comment on what they are consuming. It is a great, easy to use app.

Hoppenings

Brew & Co
532 Bedford Road, Bedford Hills, 914-666-3600, brewandcompany.com

  • Food trucks every Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 18: Schafly Tap Takeover, 5 p.m.-close
  • Friday, July 26: Good Beer Friday Tap Takeover, 5 p.m.-close
  • Saturday, July 27: Cask Night, 4 p.m.-close

Vista Beer & Beverage
204 Oakridge Common, South Salem, 914-533-0100, vistabeerandbeverage.com

Tastings (Note: During the tastings, a “Beer 101” will be hosted with a Q&A.)

  • Aug. 2: Founders/Cigar City/Revision
  • Aug. 16: 5 Borough/Montauk 

Please reach out with upcoming beer or related events as I’m happy to spread the word.

Cheers!

The Katonah Beer Man
TheKatonahBeerMan@gmail.com