My first (and it won't be my last) trip to the City Beer Hall
Sometimes I do come out of my trying-to-be-a-mature-adult cave and spend money that really should be going towards other things (like health insurance or a house) even though I know in the end most of my money really does go towards travel.
But, I made an exception last night and went to two new bars in Albany - The City Beer Hall and Stout.
Our first stop was the City Beer Hall which I was mega-super-excited about since I have always wanted a bar in Albany with a mechanical bull, even though I did "ride" the one in Syracuse at Daisy Dukes...for a whole five seconds and that was after trying to get up on the bull for about a minute (short legs, le sigh).
The bf and I had a slight issue finding parking but only because we really weren't looking in the right place. Once we went down Howard Street where the beer hall is located we found parking without a problem (though all the spots were filled when we came back).
At the western style bar (with a friendly beer hall atmosphere, a fire place, and long tables and benches), I ordered a Dale's Ale and we were both happy to see a lot of good beers available, with Ommegang on tap. I had just gone to the craft beer event not long ago so there were a few familiar names (like Clown Shoes' black IPA Hoppy Feet which sold out at the fest).
With our beer orders, we got two free tickets for personal pizzas. I neglected to ask if this was a soft opening thing only or if that would be the case with future visits.
We went up a couple steps to the kitchen area where we saw our thin crust, flatbread pizzas made by a couple talkative and nice staff members.
Nearby the kitchen, there is an entrance to a patio area outside with tables and another bar. And upstairs there are barrels for tables, another bar, a view of the beer hall below and Da Bull. It was a pleasant surprise that riding the bull is free and only requires you signing away our life on a waiver and showing a valid ID. I watched a couple people ride it which was amusing. I figured I'd wait until I was with a larger group of friends with which to make a jackass out of myself.
I also read somewhere (Tablehopping, I think) that the basement would include a speakeasy cocktail area but a bouncer said it was not yet open to the public.
Overall: I liked the experience. The people were friendly. The place wasn't as packed as I expected and the beer was reasonably priced with a good variety. They do need to expand their food list, though, to offer something besides pizza and I think they do plan to do that.
The only things I worry about are: how hot (temperature wise) it will be in there with a lot of people and little ventilation, and what drunk people in large groups are doing to do with the actually-kinda-sharp saw blades set up for decoration at an inebriated person's reach.