The best new beer bars

A new crop of watering holes join the ranks of NYC's finest suds haunts.

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  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Earl's beer and cheese

    Earl's Beer and Cheese

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Alewife

    Alewife Queens

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    Taproom 307

    Taproom No. 307

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Tap House

    Brooklyn Tap House

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Earl's beer and cheese

Earl's Beer and Cheese

Earl's Beer and Cheese
In a bar scene where even your corner dive boasts more than a dozen taps, Earl's makes do with only four. Still, the pint-size uptown drinkery is the type of spot that instantly makes you want to be a regular. The focus on quality over quantity rewards repeat visits: Expertly chosen drafts ($5--$7) change nearly every day rather than sitting in kegs going stale, and the lineup cycles through mostly local pours, including the citrus-tinged Bronx Pale Ale and Southern Tier's Krampus, a high-alcohol take on a traditional German helles lager. There's also a stock of eight to ten quality cans ($3--$7), such as 21st Amendment's hoppy Bitter American pale ale and a selection of tall boys from Sixpoint. Even amid all the top-notch brews, the kitchen steals the show with some of the city's most inventive bar food. Dig into garlicky, sriracha-laced beer cheese ($6, jumbo $11) and the superlative NY Cheddar ($8): an unctuous grilled-cheese riff with local braised pork belly, fried egg, house-made kimchi and sharp cheddar wedged between griddled slices of sourdough. 1259 Park Ave between 97th and 98th Sts (212-289-1581, earlsny.com)

Alewife Queens
Before this bi-level gastropub planted its flag in Long Island City last fall, the 'hood was a craft-beer wasteland. Now the folks behind the cultish Alewife Baltimore and Lord Hobo in Cambridge, Massachusetts, court brewhounds in Queens with a destinationworthy selection of 28 drafts and more than 100 bottles. In addition to highlighting standout domestics like Stillwater's sharp and funky Stateside Saison ($8), the bar beats the drum for Scandinavia's burgeoning brewing movement—look for a steady influx from Denmark's beloved Evil Twin and Sweden's Hantverksbryggeriet (try the superrich Munken quadruple, $13). Though the grub is a bit pricey for LIC, a sweet, nectary Ithaca Flower Power IPA stands up well to the formidable burger ($15), built with gooey Dorset cheddar and a meaty blend of dry-aged short rib and brisket. 5-14 51st Ave between Vernon Blvd and 5th St, Long Island City, Queens (718-937-7494, alewifequeens.wordpress.com)

Taproom No. 307
For evidence of craft beer's growing influence, one need only bend an elbow at this genre-defying saloon—a raucous Murray Hill craft-beer bar that also boasts one of the city's most exciting new beer programs. While TVs and a lively after-work scene help to pack the place, beer sommelier Hayley Jensen (formerly of DBGB) lures suds obsessives with a collection of 42 drafts, plus regular events such as food-pairing classes, guest brewery nights (check out Abita on Monday 20 and Tuesday 21) and monthly home-brewer brunches. An annotated menu, compiled daily by Jensen, includes insightful tasting notes to help you parse the offerings: You might try the silky Cream Ale from Empire Brewing Company ($7), or the nicely roasty #44 Smoked Stout by Danish newcomer Xbeeriment ($9). Plenty of Taproom's drafts pack a punch, so stay vertical with a crispy brick-oven pizza ($9--$13), or a Cubano ($12) featuring fatty slow-roasted Berkshire pork shoulder. 307 Third Ave between 23rd and 24th Sts (212-725-4766, taproom307.com)

Brooklyn Tap House
Though its taps have been flowing for only a month, this cavernous Bed-Stuy newcomer is already developing a reputation on Kings County's robust beer-bar scene. The place demonstrates its devotion to malts and hops with a staggering menu of 44 rotating draft lines (pints $6) and nearly 100 bottles. The options are divvied up into useful categories like "Local"—we love Captain Lawrence's spicy, funky Liquid Gold—and "All Points West," encompassing other domestic hits such as the rich, coffee-tinged Founders Breakfast Stout. In addition to fully loaded burgers ($14) and Schaller & Weber brats ($8), the kitchen executes surprisingly addictive stoner grub, like a mac-and-cheese-stuffed spring roll with creamy bacon dipping sauce ($5). While locals are already packing the spare, warehouselike main room, an adjacent beer garden boasts a firepit for winter and should be an even bigger draw when the warm weather returns. 590 Myrtle Ave between Classon Ave and Taaffe Pl, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (917-202-1801, brooklyntaphouse.com)

The Growler Bites & Brews
As a counterpoint to the area's tony banker haunts and down-and-out dives, this dog-themed tavern brings pedigreed taps and vintage pooch photos to the cobbled streets of FiDi. Co-owner Anthony Malone (Swift) dedicates 20 draft lines (pints $7--$8) primarily to American interpretations of classic European styles, such as Pretty Things' pleasingly tart Jack D'Or saison ($8). Like McSorley's, the Growler also boasts its own light and dark house brews ($7): The crisp Brrright lager ($7) is made by Stoudt's Brewing Company in Philly, while the smooth, malty Darrrk ($7) comes courtesy of Sixpoint. Fittingly, growlers are available both in house and to go, the bar menu includes snappy hot dogs from Brooklyn's Mile End ($6), and a creative cocktail list references the canine theme with drinks such as the smoky Irish Terrier (Jameson, Lagavulin, lemon and orgeat; $10). And while real mutts are relegated to the outdoor patio, the bar will keep tails thumping with free dog treats this summer. 55 Stone St between Broad and Hanover Sts (917-409-0251)

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