By Cat Wolinski
With new breweries opening every few months and can releases happening every day of the week, New York City’s beer bars are oft overlooked when reporting NYC’s brew news. So, as we head into Thanksgiving, ‘tis the season to give credit to where credit is due – to the beer bars, bottle shops and gastropubs throughout the boroughs, without which the dozens of craft breweries we celebrate in every Ale Street News issue likely would not survive.
In Brooklyn’s famed Williamsburg neighborhood, the number of beer bars has been multiplying, and the selection and quality of the beers available is growing with it. Mugs Ale House (125 Bedford Ave.), established in 1992, has long been a trusted sanctuary for craft beer curmudgeons and casual drinkers alike. Spuyten Duyvil (359 Metropolitan Ave.) has been serving up legendary beers since 2003, now mixing in local favorites. Nearby, Barcade (388 Union Ave.). made its NYC debut with double dorkery: craft beer and vintage arcade games.
In the still trendy, but less trampled East Williamsburg, a slew of new beer bars have opened in the past five or so years: Sugarburg (19 Metropolitan Ave.), whose always-evolving artistic decor complements an excellent beer and food selections Northern Bell (612 Metropolitan Ave.), specializing in BBQ and whiskey; Beer Street (413 Graham Ave.), a cozy but classy locals’ bar; and Beer Karma (470 Union Ave.), a new beer bar and bottle shop that opened in April, offers a quiet alternative in the ground floor of owner Dan Lamonaca’s grandmother’s apartment building.
Between East Williamsburg and Bushwick, The Well (272 Meserole St.) has established itself with a robust tap selection and indoor/outdoor event space with neighboring establishment, The Wick (both housed on the site of a pre-prohibition era brewery). Pine Box Rock Shop (12 Grattan St.), a former casket factory, is a favorite among locals for regional craft beer, trivia nights and vegan-friendly fare. The Sampler (234 Starr St.) offers craft drafts, bottles and cans to stay or to go, along with nibbles like cheese and meats. At Roberta’s (261 Moore St.), expect local brews and delicious wood-fired pizzas. At Arrogant Swine, (173 Morgan Ave.), owner Tyson Ho boasts whole hog BBQ and local beer in a lively atmosphere.
Bed-Stuy is home to two notable beer bars: The Wilky (108 Patchen Ave.) and Glorietta Baldy.
Greenpoint, Williamsburg’s slightly more chilled-out neighbor, offers the world famous Tørst (615 Manhattan Ave.); punk rock rival, Brouwerij Lane (78 Greenpoint Ave.); and neighborhood staple, The Diamond (43 Franklin St.), a beer nerd’s haven for 10 years.
Across Atlantic Avenue is where Brooklyn’s beer bar scene really got started, thanks to standbys like Fourth Ave. Pub (76 4th Ave.), Pacific Standard (82 4th Ave.), The Gate (321 5th Ave.), The Double Windsor (210 Prospect Park West) and Owl Farm (297 9th St.) in Park Slope. From the owner of the latter is a new, New York-centric bar, Cardiff Giant (415 Myrtle Ave.) in Clinton Hill. In Windsor terrace, The Adirondack (1241 Prospect Ave.) was the first to focus on New York-only brews. Greenwood Park (555 7th Ave.), housed in a former gas station in South Park Slope, is also a classic, and massive. Around Atlantic Terminal, by BAM and the Barclay’s Center, worth a stop is beer bar/bottle shop St. Gambrinus Beer Shoppe (533 Atlantic Ave.). In Crown Heights, Covenhoven (730 Classon Ave) and Berg’n are much loved, and vastly different enough that you must go to both.
Ever the city’s melting pot, Queens is home to beer bars for all sorts of tastes. In Astoria, there’s the 100-year-old Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden (2919 24th Ave.); the modern and dual-location Astoria Bier and Cheese (34-14 Broadway and 35-11 Ditmars Blvd.); and the beer, wine and jazz-focused Crescent and Vine (2503 Ditmars Blvd.). Judy & Punch (34-08 30th Ave.) is a laid-back favorite among local beer lovers, and the Local (41-04 31st Ave.) is a best-kept secret for casual craft pints and conversation. The Queens Kickshaw (40-17 Broadway) is a worthy stop for craft beer, cider, coffee and grilled cheese. Oliver’s brings bar food and brews into a classic pub setting. On the Astoria border is neighborhood stalwart, Sunswick 35/35 (35-02 35th St.).
In Long Island City, beer and food options abound: Alewife (5-14 51st Ave.), also rumored to be opening its own brewery soon; Bierocracy, offering polished beer hall fare; and John Brown Smokehouse, a good stop for grab-and-go trays of barbecued meats and sides.
In Ridgewood are Belgian beer bar, the Monk (68-67 Fresh Pond Rd.); cute and romantic Julia’s Beer & Wine (818 Woodward Ave.); and brand new Craft Culture (59-04 Myrtle Ave.).
Station House (106-11 71st Ave.) is worth a hop off the LIRR in Forest Hills.
Manhattan may be behind when it comes to number of breweries, but it’s no stranger to beer bars. (Helpful tip: look for the Good Beer Seal, designating 78 beer bars in the greater NYC area). Some standouts, roughly organized by neighborhood, are as follows.
The East Village and surrounding area is home to many longtime favorites: Jimmy’s No. 43 (43 East 7th St., currently closed), Proletariat (102 St. Marks Pl.); ABC Beer Co. (96 Avenue C); and relative newcomers Fool’s Gold (145 E Houston St.) and Good Beer (422 E. 9th St). By the Bowery and Lower East Side are One Mile House (10 Delancey St.) and Top Hops (94 Orchard St.).
On the West Side, local legend the Blind Tiger (281 Bleecker St.) has held it down since 1995. Murray’s Cheese (254 Bleecker St.) is a great stop for beer and cheese and other light meals to stay or to go. Newer options like Upright Brew House (547 Hudson St.) and Houston Hall (222 W Houston St.) are also gaining fans.
Randolph Beer (343 Broome St.) offers a hip gastropub at its NoLita location (additional locations are in Williamsburg and DUMBO, the latter of which is a new brewpub). Further down in the FiDi, Clinton Hall (90 Washington St.) draws crowds with its modern beer hall and outdoor seating. It’s more classic sister location Flat Iron Hall is located at 38 West 26th St.
- Moving to Midtown, we have a healthy mix of beloved beer bars old and new: the Gingerman (11 E 36th St.), a true OG (though we advise avoiding happy hour); Cannibal (113 E 29th St.) famed for cured meats and other eats in Murray Hill (along with its satellite location in Gotham West Market); and the author’s current favorite, thanks to its meticulous, ahead-of-the-curve curation at the hands of Tristan Colgrove, Haymaker Bar & Kitchen (252 W 29th St.), a respite from, and for, the Penn Station and Madison Square Garden crowds. Near Port Authority, there’s Beer Culture, (328 W 45th St.) and Rattle n Hum West (306 W 39th St.) The original R n H is at 14 E 33rd St. And of course there are the several Heartland Brewery locations for fresh beer and solid food: Port Authority, Empire State Building and Times Square (127, W. 43rd St.). Midtown East is home to the dependable Draught 55 (245 E 55th St.) and The Stag’s Head, (252 E 51st St.). A bit further north, The Jeffrey Craft Beer & Bites (311 East 60th St.) is worth the trek in an otherwise beer barren area.
Among the many craft beer havens that have made their way to the Upper East Side are Pony Bar (1444 1st Ave.), – it’s twin in Hell’s Kitchen recently closed – and Bondurants (303 E 85th St.), a lively spot whose bar fare rivals its beer list. In the Upper West, Dive Bar (732 Amsterdam Ave.) beckons Belgian and regional beer lovers to its no-frills environs.
Bronx Alehouse (216 W 238th St.) is billed as the borough’s first craft beer bar, but for an all-around sensory experience, head to the Bronx Beer Hall (2344 Arthur Ave.), located smack in the middle of the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, where Italian meats, cheeses and pastries abound.
Many New Yorkers are unaware of our most overlooked borough’s bona fide beer bars: Craft House (60 Van Duzer St.) in Tompkinsville, where Kills Boro beers are on tap as the owners await its opening; and the Hop Shoppe (372 Van Duzer St.), in Stapleton, featuring superhero tap handles. On the North shore bordering the New Brighton and Randall Manor neighborhoods, Adobe Blues (63 Lafayette Ave.) offers a mix of macro and microbrews alongside Tex Mex-style cuisine and live music.
What are your favorite NYC beer bars? Tell us on Twitter @alestreetnews and @beeraffair.