I landed at JFK, took the subway to my hotel, showered, changed and went in search of the thing I miss the most - a good hoppy ale. As I walked out of the hotel a dykey bicycle courier checked me out looked me in the eye and said "Nice hair, guy." Right then I knew - I was with my people.
I'd done a little homework, and it seemed from what people were saying that "The Hop Devil Grill" in the East Village was likely to have what I wanted. I walked in to a place that a couple dozen taps along the wall and twice that many bottles ranked above them. Lots of familiar names - Stone Pale Ale, Stone Arrogant Bastard, Mendocino Brewing Red Tail, Sam Adams, Rogue. I mentioned I was in search of an intensely hoppy IPA and the barman smiled and pointed at the one hand pulled tap.
"Have you tried Hop Angel? Intensely hopped, cask conditioned, hand pulled IPA - and it's local. Brewed in New York." He was speaking my language. If I had specified my dream beer that's what I would have asked for. I asked for a pint.
The first sip confirmed all my hopes. First came citrus from dry hopping, intense grapefruit, followed by crisp maltiness, hardly sweet at all, just enough to balance the finishing bitterness. I smiled and nodded and said "This is a good beer." The barman smiled back and nodded.
If you're looking for real ale in Manhattan, I suggest looking at Hop Devil Grill.