David Cichowicz of Good Beer NYC On Ales That Make You Pucker and Brews with Less Booze

Good Beer NYC's David Cichowicz
Good Beer NYC's David Cichowicz
Wayne Chowaniec

This Thursday is St. Patrick's Day, which in New York is less of a celebration of Irish culture than it is an excuse to guzzle green beer and demand kisses from strangers. Might we suggest forgoing the tinted lager this year and instead opting for some quality suds? You might even dare the unthinkable and replace your Guinness with an American stout. Good Beer NYC has options for both scenarios. They'll be pouring Moylan's Dragoons Dry Irish Stout from California this Thursday. Owner David Cichowicz shares a few other details about his aptly named venture in the East Village.

What was your original vision for Good Beer NYC?

It was basically to open up a craft beer shop in the East Village that specializes in domestic, independent craft brewers. That's 80 percent of my stock. The other 20 percent is from the beer godfather countries: Belgium, Germany, U.K., Scotland, and Ireland. [The idea was to have] growler fills and bottles to go, and then also have a tasting component, a café so people could buy pints on-site.

Were there any surprises once you opened?

I was surprised at the amount of people that wanted to hang out here and drink. I originally thought 20 percent of our business would be people hanging out and having a beer and 80 percent would be to-go. I didn't foresee the café portion of the business being as big as it would. It's really mixed: half and half. I have retail hours. We're open till 10. It's brightly lit. I mean, it's a store. But people definitely seem to dig it.

Would you say we're in a golden age of beer right now?

I think people are just becoming more aware. Craft beer sales are growing every year. It's just better than the stuff that people are used to drinking, like all the macro brands: Miller, Coors, Anheuser-Busch. I think a lot of it has to do with the foodie culture that's been growing. People want better food. They want local food. I think craft beer is the same thing. People just want a better product. Quality sells. There's no two ways about it.

What makes a beer great for you?

Balance. Balance of flavors. It could be any style, but as long as there's nothing too overwhelming about it.

What makes a great beer bar?

Rotating taps. Lots of craft beer. That would be ideal for me. I like all the places that keep changing up their stuff. I like d.b.a. I like Jimmy's 43. Those are the few places I would go the most in this neighborhood.

What are some of the trends in brewing that you're excited about now?

Cask ales are definitely big. I actually don't do any cask yet, but it's something I'm going to add when the weather gets warmer. Another thing definitely coming up is sours. Sour beers seem to be getting bigger and bigger. Breweries are starting to do them. We have a lot more people asking about them in here. Definitely a trend. IPAs are still pretty dominant. I sell more IPAs than any other category for sure.   What's your go-to beer to take to a party when you really want to impress?

That's tough because it would depend on the person. If I had to pick something that's special and unique, we carry the line of Cigar City beers from Tampa, which aren't available in most of the country. You can get it only here and Florida, basically.

What are some common misconceptions about beer and/or beer and food pairing?

People seem to get that beer pairs with food, but probably the thing that comes up most and that no one seems to understand is that chocolate and black beer go really awesome together. So, we've been trying to encourage that here. We try to do a tasting flight that includes two chocolate truffles and two 4.5-ounce pours of stout or porter.

Do you have any other favorite food and beer pairings?

Yeah, I mean, cheese and beer is awesome. It just depends on what kind of cheese and what kind of beer. I drink beer with everything so I think it goes with all kinds of food, except maybe breakfast.

What do you think is the next big thing to look out for in beer?

Sessions are also becoming more and more popular now. Most brewers are now doing 5 percent or below. These session beers will be a trend you'll see a lot more of.

Why do you think there is a demand for that?

I think people want to drink a lot of something and you really can't do that with a 7.8 percent IPA. You get a little bit sloshed and hit the floor.

What's your go-to hangover cure after a night when you've gotten a little bit sloshed and hit the floor?

You know, I don't generally ever get a hangover. But if I do, I usually do comfort food and coconut water or something. Get hydrated.

Have a restaurant tip or other food news? Send it to fork@villagevoice.com.

And follow us on Twitter: @ForkintheRoadVV.


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