There’s a funny thing that happens when you order a beer. You may not notice, and that’s alright, what with all those distractions in a bar: the smiling eyes of your friends, the buzzing of conversation all around you, the music and television rising and falling overhead.
You might not think of it as you scan the menu for the perfect beer, the right combination of flavor and refreshment. It may not occur to you, even as you watch the waiter withdraw to the bar, the bartender pull the tap and fill a glass, and the beer make its way back to you.
There’s a funny thing that happens. Somehow, in some way, you’ve completely missed noticing the incredible amount of thought that is needed to prepare and deliver that beer to where it’s standing, cool and crisp and perfect, before you.
Anne Becerra has noticed. And, as cicerone of Treadwell Park, a craft beer bar on 62nd & First Avenue, she’s made it her job to ensure that you never quite do notice them, either. Carbonation and pressure levels on the lines, the glassware into which the beer is poured, the number of pilsners on the menu; these are just a handful of decisions a cicerone has to make, and lucky for Treadwell (and us!), Anne has put a great deal of thought into them. And lucky for Anne, Treadwell Park offers a great opportunity to test those thoughts out.
If the pour is perfect, if the glass is clean, if the pressure and carbonation is just right, the beer can stand on its own. And when it does that, it can tell you a story. It can tell you how it was brewed in the same place as rauschbier, and how the smokiness was embedded in the beer in the process. It could repeat its origins in Belgium, made by monks using a recipe from 1937 using Belgian candy sugar. It can tell you about the terroir of Brooklyn or Brussels or Brazil. It can tell you everything it knows, which can actually be a lot, if you think about it.
Well, as I said, Anne has thought about it. She’s found an ally in Treadwell Park, and the mutual commitment to serving good beer in a good place to good people has let a million other stories be told – ours. Maybe about our first sour, or about that extremely rare porter, or even what it was like actually learning to like beer in the first place.
On Treadwell Park
Treadwell Park isn’t the first stop for Anne and her mission to bring good beer to the Manhattan masses. As New York City’s first female cicerone, she’s made her mark at places around the city like Blind Tiger, the Ginger Man, Taproom No. 307, and Pony Bar. Treadwell Park, however, has become her most recent home, for good reason.
“They have one of the best draft systems that exists. We can pour a wide range of beers of different carbonation levels, different CO2 levels, different temperatures, which is so amazing, to be able to pour a highly carbonated Belgium triple, without any issues, without overfoaming. More and more, as I get into it, this is becoming such a passion project. We can do it really well, and we still have space. We can still do ping-pong tournaments, we have games, and it’s a welcoming place to have all these really funky beers. [Treadwell Park] is really exciting.”
Anne wants Treadwell Park to be welcoming, fun and comfortable, and it is. With plenty of picnic tables and high top tables and a long bar, there is always plenty of room for a group of people, and popcorn, jenga, and ping-pong await your hunger, be it actual or simply a willingness to compete. Tons of TVs decorate the walls, and the good music pours from the radio overhead, while fantastic dishes stream from the kitchen door.
That means, first and foremost, that everyone who walks through the door should have something they enjoy drinking, and Anne makes it her mission to Treadwell Park a place where “anyone can come in and find something that they love… something for every budget and every flavor profile.”
Beer On the Menu
The menu is the backbone of the beer program. It provides structure and balance. A bit overwhelming it can be, what with those European names and obscure styles of beer. At Treadwell, however, there’s a great deal of intention behind what’s on there. The menu’s changed recently (no doubt due to Anne’s guidance), and it’s actually gotten smaller, which isn’t to say there are fewer choices:
“It’s really crucial that we have something for everybody, for every flavor, down to our pale ales and IPAs. We have something that’s a little more accessible in the 5% range, flavorful from England; we have a bright, big, juicy American IPA; we have an imperial double IPA for the hophead. We’re always gonna have something for all the ranges. We’re gonna have a cider that tends to be on the sweeter side and then we have some funky barrel aged dry cider. There’s something for everybody. We have a hefeweizen. We’ve got a dark, big, bold oaky sour, and a light tart refreshing sour. A roasted porter, lighter, easy to drink, 5%, and a big imperial stout at 10%. You have to think about who’s coming in and what they’re gonna want, and make sure we’ve got it covered.
And, I had to ask… sometimes, when you’re headed out on the town, drinking all day and all night, all you want is a light beer. How does Treadwell manage that?
“You can have really great light beers. Low alcohol percentage is crucial, especially when you’re watching the game, you don’t want to drink 8-9% beers all day… they’re not sacrificing flavor in any way, they’re not sacrificing quality, and we also have to make sure that if you want something light, you’re gonna get it good and it’s gonna be delicious.”
The concept of a cicerone is foreign to many, mostly because the beers they drink are not. And though potables like whiskey and wine have long histories spanning centuries and regions and natural disasters and political ones too, the same general fascination with the production of beer has only just begun taking hold. With the advent of the craft beer market, consumers are now able to get a glimpse into the creativity, complexity, and history that has long been present amongst brewers and their beer, but that has long been dominated by just a handful of recognizable producers.
As it turns out, there’s as much a terroir in beer as in anything else: ““I just want people to realize that beers come from everywhere, and that there all these different countries that are doing their own spin. For example, the Way Beer, it’s from a brewery in [Pinhas] Brazil that uses distinct Amazonian fruits from different woods in Brazil. It’s something that actually shows the terroir, and the sense of place, something that’s unique to Brazil and to the Amazon and it’s something that we wouldn’t be able to try. Half the fruits that they use we don’t even get here. It’s just something cool. People are willing to try wines from all over the world. Why not beer?”
And yet, Anne’s decision to explore the beer market was spurred as much as a desire to explore history as it was a desire to be economical.
“Why I chose beer is because I love cocktails, I love really good spirits, I love scotch and mescal. All of the sudden, you start to find that there’s just as much complexity in something that’s usually half the price. When I was 21, that was a factor, you know, you’re looking at things that you can afford on a fairly regular basis, and to get that high level of quality for what I was paying for a crappy bottle of wine.”
Anne Becerra and Treadwell Park have a keen eye for affordability, and that’s super helpful to most New Yorkers. “We don’t want to price anybody out, and just because everyone has different budgets. We don’t want people to be put off by that, and not drink something great because it’s not on their budget.” In turn, Treadwell Park is initiating a beer of the week special, in which they’ll find a really great keg of beer, and price it at $7 per glass for the entire week.
“I’m always traveling, that’s the best part. I travel as much as I can. It’s crucial, you get to visit breweries and you get to see the culture that surrounds it, not just the beer.”
That’s good for us. Let Anne do the research and the work, and bring back the best in the world to Treadwell Park. During the Olympics, Treadwell Park had a list of eight beers, from Norway and the Netherlands, to Brazil and Italy and just over the river in Brooklyn. In October, they’ll be hosting an Oktoberfest world tour, involving a passport and many beers for you to try.
Still, if you want to get to the source of the beer, that’s not a bad idea either.
“Think about this: when you go visit a winery or go visit a place that makes their own cheese, and you see it, and you hear the stories and they tell you about it and you understand that this was made five blocks over there and this is how we do it and the love that goes into it and the stories behind it. When you taste it, it’s a whole different experience.”
There’s an attention to detail in places like Belgium and Germany that Anne cites. “Things like the right glass, the proper pour, the right bite with it, good conversation… all of those factors together make it more about everything, not just the beer.”
Anne clearly values that and, without a doubt, that’s the kind of person I want running a bar.
On New York City
As it turns out, NYC has a bit of terroir of its own, and believe it or not, the underground subway system has more to do with it than you think. There is a plethora of very creative brewers around, and it’s easy to find them all. It’s just one more reason (if we needed one), why New York City is the greatest town in the world.
“I’m so impressed with what has come about lately. So many talented breweries, so many incredible brewers. They’re using local ingredients, local malts. For someone that’s just getting to New York City and has a day to look at breweries, go out to Brooklyn. There’s three that are fairly close to each other: Threes Brewing, Other Half, and Strong Rope. They all make several different styles and they’re all very diverse, but what they tend to be known for is this. Strong Rope is known for their malts and malt-based beers. Other Half is famous for really hoppy beers, and Threes does a lot of really cool mixed fermentation. It’s really interesting for someone, even if you don’t know a lot about beer, to go try different styles of beer, all from different places, and find your favorite. Everyone will be able to find something they like. “
Oh, and guess what. It’s super easy to try them all and get home safely.
“We don’t have to drive, that’s another advantage to being in New York City. You don’t need a DD. We have cabs, we have Uber, we have subways. You can go bar hop, you can go brewery hop, and not have to worry about it. It’s pretty sweet.”
On Treadwell Park (again)
So why not take advantage of your preferred mode of transit that doesn’t involve your hands on a steering wheel, and refine your taste at Treadwell Park?
“That everyone is so excited about it and we get so much support and passion. The owners and the people behind it say we want to do it really well. We want the best list. They understand what things cost. They understand that we want to make things affordable. They understand that people want to drink things that are really hard to find, and they are really supportive of letting this place be that menu. Things like draught systems, things like having really beautiful glasses, things like making sure we have the very best people come in and clean our lines constantly. Those are important.”
Don’t worry about your glassware or the keg or anything. Let Anne Becerra, cicerone of Treadwell Park, think on that for you. And if you want to geek out a little bit, by all means, talk to Anne or any of the knowledgeable waiters or bartenders. When you’re at Treadwell, you are free to concentrate on the story, of your beer, of your friends, of you.
Everything has something to say, and if I’m guessing if the walls of Treadwell Park could talk, they’d repeat the very last thing Anne herself said to me:
“The idea is to give good beer to everybody.”
Treadwell Park details
1125 First Ave., 212-832-1551
Hours of Operation
- Monday 4PM–2AM
- Tuesday 4PM–2AM
- Wednesday 4PM–2AM
- Thursday 4PM–2AM
- Friday 4PM–2AM
- Saturday 11:30AM–2AM
- Sunday 11:30AM–2AM
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