Ted Kenny, owner of Top Hops, "views his establishment as a craft-beer culture center," writes Ralph Gardner Jr. in The Wall Street Journal (2/20/14). Ted is a former Anheuser-Busch brand manager who opened Top Hops on New York’s Lower East Side, on Orchard Street, two years ago. Top Hops stocks some "700 beers in bottles and cans," plus 20 beers on tap, and "has a vibe similar to a cigar bar … beer bonhomie oozes from the handsome bar’s every pore," Ralph writes.
On a given day, Top Hops might have a "tap takeover" — featuring multiple offerings from a single brewery, such as Bell’s Brewery of Michigan, perhaps served in flights of four. Customers are given coasters (image) with "a space reserved for notes … The wall behind the bar, designed by graphic designer Christian Helms, is a blackboard listing the 20 beers on tap as well as such information as their ‘ABV’ (alcohol by volume) and ‘IBU,’ which stands for International Bitterness Units and measures the amount of hops in a beer."
"A lot of people say it reminds them of the old bookie boards," says Ted, referring to the blackboard. Snacks include a "high-end pretzel," and the bar itself features "an aluminum counter top." Top Hops also has a resident "beer educator," Justin Crider, who conducts weekly classes. "I bring some of my private collection to the classes," says Justin. "Next class I’m opening a beer that’s $250 a bottle … One of my prized beers is a Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze." Every beer at Top Hops can be consumed on-premise, or ordered to-go.