Thank goodness for the patience of Blind Tiger Ale House (281 Bleecker Street). When the beer-buff haven was pushed out of its former Hudson Street location (the city desperately needed another Starbucks), it moved to the current locale. Then things got a little messy: A none-too-pleased community board felt that Bleecker Street already had plenty of bars (everybody’s a buzz killer these days), and a year-long battle for a liquor license ensued. Desperate to maintain its presence, the owners reopened the spot as a coffee shop and hoped that the New York State Liquor Authority would come around. But for some reason, pelting back shots of java didn’t take, and once again, the pub closed its door.
Then in March, the Tiger finally got its house back in order and set up shop in the new location, one noticeably less gloomy than the previous. The floors, roof beams, and bar are made with wood salvaged from a 19th-century farmhouse and there are plenty of windows that open onto the street, plus a stone fireplace that’s sure to earn its keep come winter. Despite these minor changes, good beer for good beer’s sake remains at the establishment’s core. The 28 microbrews on tap range from tart Pale Ales with tongue-tying names like Weyerbacher Simcoe ($6), to the velvety Rogue Chocolate Stout ($6). While the by-the-bottle list has more than 50 beers on it, including a pricey Russian River “Damnation” golden ale for $30 a pop. Gone, though, is the bar’s nice collection of whiskeys and tequilas: The community board requested that the new liquor license only permit the sale of beer and wine. They must not know about the Avery Salvation ($7), a serious Belgium ale that tastes like peaches and smells like nail polish remover (its alcohol by volume content is nine percent; most beers are about four). The pub now sports a new kitchen, and the menu includes some eye-catching snacks like “Sunnyside Eggs” ($4), a deviled-egg hybrid with Whiting pâté and a turkey sandwich special called “Thanksgiving in June,” ($7) with cranberry sauce and sage. We played it safe with a cheese plate for $9.50, which came with generous wedges of bleu cheese, aged Gouda, Gruyére, and toasted strips of fluffy sour dough. During the week, expect to see a happy-hour crowd: old guys and low-key regulars. Of course, use common sense when frequenting a bar on the West Village’s main drag—weekday evenings at the Blind Tiger are perfectly enjoyable, weekends aren’t.