Where to drink this week: 61 Local

An earnest beer hall keeps its friends close.

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  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

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    61 Local

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

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    61 Local

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

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    61 Local

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

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    61 Local

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

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    61 Local

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

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    61 Local

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

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    61 Local

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

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    61 Local

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

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    61 Local

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

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    61 Local

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

61local80801

61 Local

It's a testament to New York's brewing prowess that regional beers have colonized so many of the city's taps, even spawning bars devoted entirely to suds from the Empire State. Like other locavore memes, though, the embrace of homegrown suds can induce eye-rolls when handled poorly. At spots such as the Brooklyneer—a slice of Kings County exported to (gasp) the West Village—going local feels like an idea that's being sold, not supported. Defying any such cynicism are 61 Local owners Dave Liatti and Chris Munsey—a pair of beer lovers with a hand in the city's artisan boom (Liatti worked as an engineer for both Sixpoint Craft Ales and Kelso of Brooklyn, while Munsey is a Murray's Cheese and Dickson's Farmstand vet). Their sprawling Cobble Hill tavern has an earnest angle that's hard not to like—a communal beer hall where the focus on regional purveyors is matched by a steady flow of events that connect patrons with their producers. Watch this space: Brooklyn's brew scene may have found its new nerve center.

DRINK THIS: No hooch here, just 20-plus taps pouring craft beers, small-batch wines and kombucha, all from New York or neighboring states. While you can always find suds from the likes of Ommegang, Southampton and Victory, committed beer nerds home in on the rarer finds: traditional German-style Weissbiers and lagers from New Jersey's High Point Brewing, plus limited-supply kegs from Long Island's Barrier Brewing—the passion project of another Sixpoint alum, Evan Klein. Find a few of his impeccably balanced beers pouring each week; recently, we liked the dry, smoky Lights Out Stout and the refreshing Cycle Saison. Three-buck minipours (6oz each) help drinkers keep pace with the constant turnover, and it's common to find brewers from Barrier and Sixpoint doling out their own suds during shifts behind the bar.

GOOD FOR: Group drinking. With its beer-hall layout—soaring ceilings, communal seating—the bar can feel by turns cavernous and claustrophobic. Spread out with your crew when you can, or chat up your tablemates when the throngs get thick. The "coat platform" near the entrance—a large wooden ledge where patrons pile up their outerwear in heaps of fleece and flannel—reflects the house-party vibe on weekend nights.

THE CLINCHER: Like Jimmy's No. 43 in the East Village, 61 Local doubles as a community hub, hosting a growing lineup of sustainable-food meetings, craft-beer gatherings, art shows and film screenings. Keep tabs on the calendar at 61local.com; this week, catch a meeting of the Community Cooking Club (Tue 19 at 6:30pm, $13; register online), where participants will make seasonal snacks like dandelion salad, stinging-nettle soup and several riffs on deviled eggs. And if you aren't the DIY type, you don't have to go hungry: Tuck into a simple menu of shareable plates, cobbled together behind the bar with ingredients like Salvatore Bklyn ricotta and Brooklyn Cured country pt. 61 Bergen St between Boerum Pl and Smith St, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (no phone). Cash only.

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