Beer Table

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Remember the gag sticker that said beer makes you schmart? Well, that might actually be the case at South Slope's Beer Table, a brew enthusiast's dream that can take you, in the space of a couple hours, from anxious student to blissfully edified graduate. Owners Justin and Tricia Philips have cultivated a mood akin to a wine bar (minus the hauteur). The friendly staff is quick to guide you, sommelier-like, through the menu of more than two dozen rare and obscure selections, which change weekly.

More oenophilic characteristics include the tasting notes, which use descriptors like vegetal, oak and black fruit; 750-millileter bottles are common; and staffers often fetch vessels down from a wine-rack-like wall of beers. It's no surprise, then, that there's many a vinous brew in stock, including Hanssens Kriek ($13)—a tart, bright red, head-free lambic fermented from sour cherries and served from the cask.

It's not uncommon to feel as though you're drinking food at Beer Table's three handsome, communal wood tables—and not just "liquid bread," either. Many drafts are herbal or meaty. Brasserie Des Franches-Montagnes' La Meule ($13), a canary-yellow Swiss brew, went down like a spice box of sage and thyme, light yet thick with yeasty flavor. And the $10 German Schlenkerla Marzen "smoke beer" (the barley malt is kilned over a fire of beech logs) was a liquid barbecue begging for a bratwurst.

Many of these beers shock on first sip, and you may wonder for a moment whether your curious quaff was worth the often hefty price tag. But after the last taste-bud-teasing sip, you'll leave Beer Table convinced that your pennies were well spent—and that you got a little bit schmarter.—TONY

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427B Seventh Ave between 14th and 15th Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-965-1196). Subway: F to 15th St--Prospect Park. Mon--Fri 5pm--1am; Sat, Sun noon--4pm, 5pm--1am. Average drink: $12.