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That piqued my interest, so I dropped in at Bar DeVille late Tuesday night to try a pint. (My girlfriend is Facebook friends with bar manager Brad Bolt, and she'd tipped me off.) The handful of reviews I'd read at Beer Advocate were generally positive but so different that I didn't know what to expect. Manhattan Project has no hop flavor to speak of, but the rye and malts come through strong—and fortunately without the overpowering whiskey sharpness that often flattens out barrel-aged beers that haven't had time to sit and mature. The botanicals give it a nicely dry, spicy bite, and blend with the cherry and rye to create a fair approximation of that peculiar medicinal-cordial note that maraschino cherry and whiskey produce in combination.
Was it worth eight dollars for a pint? Well, I'm a sucker for things I've never tried. I definitely couldn't pay that kind of money for a pint on the regular, but for an odd and audacious beer that might only come around once? Sure.
Manhattan Project is a limited release and isn't being bottled, so to get it you have to know who has it on tap. Brewery staff referred me to the helpful folks at River North Sales & Service, who distribute Brooklyn's beer in Chicago. They confirmed that barrels have gone to Bar DeVille (of course), the Hopleaf, Rootstock, and the Beer Bistro. Small Bar and the Twisted Spoke have placed orders, but it's not clear whether they've been filled (or whether they can be).
Last night Bolt told me he'd ordered one-fourth of the total Chicago shipment of Manhattan Project, and he seemed confident Bar DeVille would have it on hand for a while. As for the other bars, well, you could call ahead to make sure they've still got some, or you could roll the dice and just go—it's not like there aren't many, many other wonderful options at every one.