42 Howard Street
Albany, NY 12207
I’m surprised that it’s taken me this long to write about The City Beer Hall. A review is long overdue. I figured with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I might as well give thanks for one of the things in my life that I take for granted.
Since opening earlier this year, The City Beer Hall has been my most visited bar. One week over the summer, I was there eight times in five days. There are valid reasons…at least I hope.
I heard some months back that a bar was opening up in the old Ballinger’s building. Bars have had trouble staying open in that spot historically, but I’m rooting for The City Beer Hall. Why? Because, unlike the prior establishments, it doesn’t suck. Oh, and it’s about an eight-minute walk from my apartment.
If you haven’t been to The City Beer Hall yet, you’ll hear two things: “free pizza” and “mechanical bull.”
Not unlike the Crocodile Lounge in the East Village, CBH gives you tickets with every beer for mini pizzas in their adjoined kitchen. Sure, the beers are a little pricier on account of the pizzas, but I always seem to get my money’s worth.
The pizzas are actually extremely tasty! The crust is thin and crispy. It is my recommendation to get no less than two at a time and then sandwich them together: cheese to cheese (after a liberal parming). It’s like a pizza quesadilla! As an added bonus, you are usually afforded a colorful anecdote or a joke in the least by the pizza boys (who will remain nameless…you know who you are). Make sure to tip!
The mechanical bull. I rarely visit the upstairs anymore, but there absolutely is a mechanical bull up there. Have I ridden it? Yes. What’s the price? It’s free. Rather, the price is your dignity. I’ve been on the bull three times, in two separate nights, for a total of about four seconds. I think it took me longer to sign the waiver…
The City Beer Hall has numerous other perks (not aforementioned) that keep me coming back.
1) The Staff: I now know the majority of the bartenders on a first name basis. At least at the downstairs bar. And despite my antics, they are always friendly. The best bartenders even remember what I normally drink! It’s like my Cheers. ”…sometimes you wanna go where [the majority of the staff] knows your name, and they’re always [glad/indifferent] you came!” They’re kind, welcoming and don’t laugh at me when I tell them I think I left my credit card there and I find it in my refrigerator the next day.
2) The Drafts: CBH has a wealth of beers on tap and they are constantly switching up their selection. I love trying new things so it’s nice that I’m kept on my beer-swilling toes, though I do still miss my summer session beer, Sly Fox Pils. Next summer…next summer.
3) The Patio: Speaking of summer, unfortunately the Beer Hall will lose one of its biggest assets with the declining weather. It’s massive, and if you’re with a group of people, it’s ideal. Occupy a picnic table and look at the lights of the Times Union Center across the way.
4) The Menu: This is admittedly a new development for me, but everything I’ve had at the CBH has been enjoyable. It’s certainly a step up from bar food. That is probably due to the fact that the chef from the defunct Wine N’ Diner is in charge. The man has a good handle on what I call “white boy soul food.”
I recently cleaned my computer desk and lifted a piece of mail to find a Beer Hall pizza ticket depository. I decided that tonight was going to be arts & crafts night. I fashioned a CBH turkey out of some unused tickets. And I cleaned up two weeks ago…Jesus.
Notice the attention to detail and cheap invisible tape.
The City Beer Hall is offering free pizza on Thanksgiving Eve for “Beergiving.” I encourage you all to attend! I’ll be there.