Best craft-beer bars

These hops havens set the standard.

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  • Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein

    jimmysno433

    Jimmy's No. 43

  • Photograph: courtesy Rattle N Hum

    rattlehum04

    Rattle N Hum

  • Photograph: Michael Kirby Smith

    sputenduyvil04

    Spuyten Duyvil

  • Photograph: courtesy Sunswick

    sunswick01

    Sunswick

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    thediamond06

    The Diamond

Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein

jimmysno433

Jimmy's No. 43


The Diamond
In a beer scene dominated by hoppy, high-alcohol brews, credit this madcap watering hole for championing session beers (most $6), a family of brews whose lower booze content makes them ideal for extended drinking. Unlikely picks such as the 3-percent-ABV Berliner Weisse (Budweiser is 5 percent) will keep you buzzed but standing through an evening of shuffleboard. If you need something burlier, idiosyncratic draft and bottle options reflect the sharp eye of co-owner Dave Pollack. Try a treacle-kissed Carnegie Porter ($10) from Sweden or a figgy Prize Old Ale ($13) vintage from 1996. 43 Franklin St between Calyer and Quay Sts, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (718-383-5030, thediamondbrooklyn.com)

Jimmy's No. 43
This subterranean brew house is the unofficial clubhouse for the New York beer community, thanks to the efforts of garrulous owner Jimmy Carbone. For a beer education on the cheap, make a habit of attending the $10 Tuesday Tastings, where an expert leads guests through pours of five to six brews within a particular theme (e.g., Colorado brews, seasonal beers made with fresh hops). Because of Carbone's hands-on involvement in the local scene, his dozen taps (most $6--$8) and deep bottle collection are often the first point of entry for both hyperlocal nanobreweries (see page 20) and new-to-NYC imports. We've tried unfiltered Franconian lagers and a Japanese brown ale brewed at the foot of Mount Fuji at the marble-topped bar. 43 E 7th St between Second and Third Aves (212-982-3006, jimmysno43.com)

Rattle N Hum
Owner Patrick Donagher is more interested in converting craft-beer newbs than scaring them off: A giant chalkboard wall suggests craft alternatives to mainstream swill, and a daily-changing menu offers 40 mostly American drafts ($7--$9), to help you find your new favorite beer. Purists gravitate toward the casks (between two and four at any time), as well as some of the expert picks on the list of 150 bottles, including Jolly Pumpkin's funky La Roja sour ale ($21, see Four beer trends). 14 E 33rd St between Fifth and Madison Aves (212-481-1586, rattlenhumbarnyc.com)

Spuyten Duyvil
The pared-down lineup of six drafts and one cask here speaks to owner Joe Carroll's reverence for beer. "With too many lines, the beer can sit around and get stale," he says. Spuyten's minimal draft offerings, as well as its 100-plus bottle list ($5--$45), are focused mainly on tiny European breweries. Sample old-world rarities like the thick, sherrylike Samichlaus lager from Austria or cellar-aged Cantillon lambics of various vintages ($15--$30). 359 Metropolitan Ave at Havemeyer St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-963-4140, spuytenduyvilnyc.com)

Sunswick 35/35
Outsiders think of Queens as the beer-garden borough, but locals know that they've got a craft-beer bar to rival Manhattan's best. The name refers to a creek that used to run from the East River to the area that is now Astoria; today, a rotating selection of beers from top domestic and international breweries ($5--$9) rush through 25 taps. Snag shot-size samples from bartenders before committing, then settle in at a high-top table. The weekday happy hour (3--7pm) is a chance to try great beers at varying discounts, while monthly events showcase serious American hops. 35-02 35th St at 35th Ave, Astoria, Queens (718-752-0620, sunswick3535bar.com)

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Users say

2 comments
amy c.
amy c.

Small home town feel with family feeling and great help!! Growlers pub & grill in Lyons NY!!

Mark
Mark

Great list! I've been to most of them, and stayed awhile at each. I'm also happy to see that the people at Rattle N Hum have opened up Beer Authority, a new craft beer bar in Times Square. Same high quality craft beer, and even more of it, with a total of 80 taps.