Alphabet City Beer Co.
Rosamunde Sausage Grill
The Pony Bar
Everyone has their favorite neighborhood joint, but which of this year’s crop of new beer bars should you try? TONY trekked all over town to find the best craft-beer drinkeries. From beer gardens to tiny craft-suds shrines, these hops-heavy watering holes are the ones to visit now.
RECOMMENDED: This year’s guide to the best beer in NYC
Bucking the behemoth craft-beer-hall trend, this hideaway gem—specializing in “rare, new and unusual” brews—brings a boutique approach to the alehouse. Its quarters may be tight, but the narrow sliver of a bar—lined with 12 stools and old-timey tattoo flash art—flaunts an all-star roster of 11 rotating drafts ($7–$11) from cult brewers (Germany’s Freigeist Bierkultur, Kentucky’s Against the Grain). Patrons can also feed their inner tech geek: View the superb 60-item bottle list by scanning a QR code on your smartphone or scoping it on the barkeep’s iPad. Recent selections included the blended “grand cru” Leelanau’s Petoskey pale ale, aged in French oak barrels (25oz $32), and the rich To Øl’s Mochaccino Messiah, a lactose-brewed Danish brown ale that drinks like a White Russian (12oz $28). Prices are steep and pours are short—$11 for eight ounces of Ölvisholt’s Lava stout is hardly proletariat—but the choice obscure brews and intimate atmosphere, mercifully free of high-fiving sports fans and sloppy EV swiggers, keep us coming back.
While pint-size Proletariat offers a singular experience, this gargantuan Park Slope beer garden takes a big-box tack, welcoming all comers (toddler-toting yuppies, fixed-gear enthusiasts, neighborhood hops-heads) with a 13,000-square-foot space, three bocce courts and a wide range of suds. Sixty draft lines dispense 20 local (Kelso pilsner, $5) and international (Gaffel Kölsch, $8) microbrews, as well as commercial favorites like Radeberger ($6). Another 24 offerings are available in bottles, including Brooklyn’s shareable Sorachi Ace, a tart farmhouse-style ale brewed with a Japanese strain of citrusy hops (25oz $15). In the onetime auto-body shop—still evoked in the roll-up garage doors and a vintage car lift—a menu of bar bites keeps both Brooklyn tots and adultescents sated: spicy buffalo wings (six $5, dozen $10), a grilled, hot Italian sausage served on a crusty hero ($8). In warm weather, hit the outside courtyard for a game of bocce. A flickering fireplace and six flatscreen TVs showing sporting events provide the entertainment when there’s a nip in the air.
Like its sister vino store, Alphabet City Wine Co., up the block, this bar-and-retail-shop hybrid peddles small-production beer and cider to plugged-in downtowners. But here, barflies can drink on-site, gathering around the 16-foot-long communal table to glug 12 New York–centric drafts, such as the crisp 19-33 Lagrrr! ($6), crafted in Astoria by SingleCut, and the sweet Easy Blonde ($6), made in Long Island by Alphabet City Brewing Company (not related to the store). Overhead speakers streaming garage rock help set an easygoing vibe, while a concise food menu provides suds-friendly snacks, like a first-rate grilled cheese that oozes Gruyère, sharp cheddar and triple-crème Brillat-Savarin between slices of cranberry-walnut bread ($7). On your way out, nab a cold one from the stellar to-go-only bottle selection in front: Among more than 350 varieties there are hard-to-find brews such as Sensory Series Vol. 1, an of-the-moment collaboration between Stillwater Artisanal Ales and Baltimore indie band Lower Dens.
Bay Area–style boozing arrives in South Williamsburg via this laid-back Cali import, one of the meat-loaded bar’s four locations (other outposts are in San Francisco and Oakland). Join the flannel-shirted lads hunkered over the zinc bar and grab a pint or pitcher from more than 24 domestic and international craft drafts or settle into one of the bar’s high-tops. The revolving picks include the lemony Sorachi Ace Saison ($6) from Brooklyn Brewery, and Rodenbach Grand Cru ($10), an aged and blended sour wild ale from Belgium. Plus, there are always two nitro taps—nitrogen is added to CO2 in the keg to create a creamy head—such as the bold Old Rasputin stout ($6). Order one of 24 sausages, including the New-York-cheddar-laced bratwurst ($8), a specialty of the Williamsburg location. The meaty links all come on brioche rolls, with house-made toppings like hot-and-sweet pickled peppers. Bonus: ’Burg layabouts can order grub and select growlers (like Bear Republic’s piney Racer 5 IPA, $26) for local delivery.
In the past few years, uptown’s once-legendary supper-club scene—marked by the passing of the iconic Lenox Lounge—has given way to a new vanguard of craft-beer halls, like Harlem Tavern and Bier International. To wit: This stately 60-seat saloon, which opened last September, serves fizzy pints to a packed room of Hamilton Heights locals. Mostly American suds flow from the spot’s 16 taps; the pours change multiple times a week, but we’ve spied Elysian’s smoky Perseus porter ($6), a jet-black elixir brewed with chocolate malts and German hops, and Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA, a textbook American-style IPA displaying throat-burning bitterness. Got your eye on someone? Send a round his or her way and the bartender will put your names, along with the drink, up on the “PDA” chalkboard as an introduction. If your romantic overtures don’t work out, eat your feelings with gussied-up pub grub, like queso dip punctuated with crisp pork-belly chunks ($8), deep-fried pickle chips accompanied by tangy house-made ranch dressing ($8) or an offbeat burger slathered with creamy peanut butter, brown-sugar-cured bacon and gooey New York State cheddar ($12).
The florid name of this Gowanus watering hole may conjure images of a bucolic countryside pond, but the cheeky reference here is tothe nearby canal’s radioactive waters. Still, the handsome space—kitted out with a wrought-iron fire pit, bi-level deck and sturdy ceiling beams—holds more kinship with a seaside family compound than an industrial waste dump, thanks to the handiwork of its design-minded owners. Perch along the banister bar overlooking the backyard and quaff one of seven beers from a short but tight menu of unimpeachable $6 drafts (Allagash White, Reissdorf Kölsch, Lagunitas IPA). Workaday drinkers can throw back one of the chuggable bottles and cans, including Miller High Life ($3) and Tecate ($4). The short food menu can be hit-or-miss, but a charred half-pound Angus burger on brioche ($11) and a bowl of crisp pickled enoki mushrooms, haricots verts and cucumbers ($5) do the job.
As at the Hell’s Kitchen original, this Upper East Side spin-off delivers enlightened (and all-American) beer guzzling to an underserved nabe. And also like the original, its patriotic draft list features 20 stateside brews, plus two cask ales (unfiltered, unpasteurized, naturally carbonated) from as far north as Maine and as far west as Oregon. Illuminated on bright LED boards, the rotating selections include West Coast–style hop bombs (like Green Flash Imperial IPA, $6) and regional options (like Sixpoint’s crisp, sweet Spice of Life, brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand, $6). The 50-seat saloon—decked out with a canoe hanging from the ceiling, dim bottle lights and barrel tables—also offers famished drinkers elevated comfort-food plates, like sweet-and-sour “sloppy duck” sliders (two for $10) . On weekends, the crowds get boisterous and bro’d out, but on quieter school nights, this everyman craft-beer oasis is a real boon to the ’hood.
Expanding their liquid horizons, the owners of cocktail-bar-slash-coffeeshop the Randolph at Broome trained their focus on beer with this 2,200-square-foot tavern,. At the reclaimed wood counter, bartenders dispense more than 30 drafts ($8–$11), emphasizing American slugs and beer-geek favorites, like San Diego’s Green Flash and Denmark’s Mikkeller. The 50-bottle list—arranged by helpful tasting headings like Fruit & Floral and Tart & Funky—spotlights hard-to-find, large-format specimens such as Element Brewing Company’s roasty black IPA Dark Matter ($34) or Nebraska Brewing Company’s barrel-aged Hop God ($42), a crossbreed that combining the bitterness of an American IPA with the backbone of a Belgian tripel. Join the mooky masses along the communal tables or take refuge at one of the rough-hewn wooden booths to order robust plates, like “double fried” chicken thighs sporting a shattering crust ($12). For dessert, brew fiends can indulge their sweet side with a house-made beer ice cream ($8) garnished with chocolate-covered pretzels and peanuts. On Saturdays, strap on your dancing shoes for a Southern-style brunch featuring live bluegrass bands and down-home grub like flaky biscuits with wild-mushroom gravy ($10).
Bolstering Prospect Heights’ burgeoning brew scene, owner Sarah Peck (ex-Schiller’s and Pastis) installed an intimate craft-beer bar—spotlighting New England and New York State microbrews—in the space once occupied by her (now) shuttered café Ortine. Affable bartenders spin old soul and funk vinyl on a turntable behind the bar, while musically inclined patrons can bang out a ditty on the upright piano at the brick back wall. Cozy up at a corner table in the snug 59-seat space and choose your draft from a revolving list of a dozen-plus beers (pint $6, pitcher $15). Recent offerings include a chocolatey Cadillac Mountain stout from Maine’s Atlantic Brewing Company ($6) and the toasty, spiced Winter ale from upstate’s Captain Lawrence Brewing Company ($6). Keeping with the regional theme, a trim menu of bar grub offers locally sourced bites like Slant Shack beef jerky ($4.50) and Brooklyn Cured hot dogs ($5). 718-622-0026, atlanticcobar.com
Boasting 42 drafts and more than 35 bottles and cans, this flag-waving American tap house offers a smart beer-focused alternative to the area’s generic Irish pubs. Take a seat along the 20-foot-long oak bar and query the bartenders about the daily tap specials listed on a chalkboard. The expansive draft list—dedicated to options from the good ol’ U.S.A.—offers standard craft brews such as Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA and Stone’s Arrogant Bastard. But keep an eye out for rarer offerings, like the citrusy Tommyknocker Nouveau ($7), an IPA made with all-local hops in a Colorado gold-mining town, or the sessionable Newburgh Saison ($6), a farmhouse-style ale from the Hudson River Valley. Suds are also reflected in the food menu: A hearty meatloaf gets an invigorating boost from Kelso brown ale ($15), while the Blue Point Toasted lager zips up the battered, crispy fish and chips ($18). On weekdays, office workers can swing by the stately spot–outfitted with a pressed-tin ceiling, antique bronzed wood columns and hanging mason-jar lights—for the wallet-friendly lunch special, which pairs rib-sticking plates (like smoky barbecued ribs) with select pours (such as Founders’ robust Dirty Bastard Scotch ale) for ten bucks. 212-300-4096, draught55.com
Forest Hills Station House
Hop off the LIRR at 71st Avenue to find this beer-and-bourbon-focused gastropub in the Queens nabe of the same name. Fifteen craft brews are on tap at the barn-wood bar, including Evil Twin Lil' B, Blue Point Toasted Lager and Left Hand Milk Stout. Bottles (Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold, Rodenbach Grand Cru) and cans (Sixpoint Resin, Oskar Blues G'Knight) are also on offer. Thirty-two bourbon and rye bottles line the wooden shelves behind the bar, for stirring into cocktails like a Woodford Reserve old-fashioned or the Boulevard (Templeton Rye, Campari and Carpano Antica). Upscale bar bites include fried chicken livers with roasted-garlic aioli; short rib–kimchi empanadas with sriracha mayo; and beer-battered meatballs with stout mustard. For dessert, look for a deep-fried Snickers with bacon-bourbon glaze—with a few slugs of the dark stuff in you, you'll forget the near comical gluttony ever happened.
Venue says: “16 Craft Beer Taps, 1 Cask Ale, 120+ Whiskeys, Craft Cocktails, & Gastropub Fare in a Chill Environment.”
You might also like
- The best new winter cocktails in NYC
- Best peacoats for men fall 2013: Classic, tailored and casual jackets
- Best dresses for women fall 2013: Mini, maxi and party dresses
- Best jewelry for fall 2013: Necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings
- Best heels fall 2013: Pumps, stilettos, peep-toes and court shoes