New-breed beer stores

Great brews are just a starting point at these souped-up bottled shops, which draw in drinkers with pedigreed eats, home-brew how-tos and more.

  • Photograph: Richard Burrowes

    On Tap at Whole Foods

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Breuklen Bier Merchants

  • Bitters Esters

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Top Hops

Photograph: Richard Burrowes

On Tap at Whole Foods

On Tap at Whole Foods Market Columbus Circle
The sardine-packed stresses of an NYC grocery could drive anyone to drink. But thankfully, Whole Foods brings the saloon to the supermarket at its UWS location, offering patrons respite at an in-store bar. With a view of the antioxidants aisle and corporate-branded signage, you certainly won't forget where you are. Still, the subterranean drinkery offers plenty to like, with a low-key vibe and ten mostly local beers, such as Greenport Harbor Black Duck Porter and Ithaca Cascazilla. Fill your growler ($9--$25), or settle in at a wooden table for a few pints ($5--$7). More than 100 bottles round out the choices behind the bar, while a short menu offers locally sourced bites like a BBQ pulled-pork sandwich on chewy ciabatta ($10). 10 Columbus Circle between 58th St and Central Park South (212-823-9600,

Breukelen Bier Merchants
Escape the rowdy Williamsburg bar scene at this laid-back suds market, where you can grab a bite and a casual drink at an in-store bar. On some Thursday nights, the owners throw brewery events (check out Wandering Star on February 23), which offer guests the opportunity to meet the pros and sample their stock. If you just want to hoist a few pints with friends, gather your group around one of the long communal tables in the back for a game of Trivial Pursuit or Scattergories under blown-up Prohibition-era photos. Sixteen draft lines dispense brew-geek standards (like Two Brothers Domaine Dupage), alongside rarer finds (such as Crossroads Brady's Bay Cream Ale) for your growler ($9--$19) or glass (pints $4--6). Across from the reclaimed-wood bar, frosty refrigerators display another 500 bottles organized by region and country. You can offset the boozing with one of the pressed sandwiches—our favorite was a juicy Schaller & Weber bratwurst ($8) stuffed in a Tom Cat Bakery pretzel roll and smothered with kraut. 182 Grand St between Bedford and Driggs Aves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-457-6350,

Bitter & Esters
DIY types can stock up on supplies at this home-brew shop and education center. Beer-making kits, including an apartment-friendly 2.5-gallon kit ($100), share shelf space with equipment (thermometers, buckets) and 50 prepackaged recipes (black IPA, dry Irish stout). Newbies can get up to speed on the basics of malts, hops and yeast in the Homebrewing 101 class ($55) held in the back (Wed 22 6:30--8:30pm). If you want one-one-one guidance, make an appointment for a brew-on-the-premises session ($250--$300). Co-owner Douglas Amport will help you create a custom recipe, brew it with you at the store and ferment the beer downstairs in a temperature-controlled room. Come back in two weeks to hand-bottle six cases of your new signature quaff. For something more advanced, sign up for a Brew Like a Pro session ($65), where renowned guests from the likes of Victory and Ngne- teach small groups how to clone one of their commercial recipes. 700 Washington Ave between Prospect Pl and St. Marks Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (917-596-7261,

Top Hops Beer Shop
Former Anheuser-Busch sales rep Ted Kenny quit his corporate gig to open this specialty beer-shop-cum-tasting-bar in January. From the outside, the whitewashed spot looks like any number of bustling downtown drinkeries (albeit a brightly lit one), with boozers bending an elbow at the polished aluminum bar. But walk to the back and you'll find a refrigerator-lined hallway stocked with 700 bottles. While some craft-brew spots treat mass-market suds like enemies of the state, Kenny is more democratic, stocking both no-nonsense brewskies (Heineken, Miller Light) and nerd-bait such as the DeuS Brut Des Flandres (750ml bottle $42). Like any beer shop worth its malt, Top Hops offers to-go growlers filled from one of the 20 draft lines, dispensing selections like Greenport Harbor Chinook'red (pint $6, growler $16), Tregs HopBack Amber Ale (pint $6, growler $8--18) and, of course, Kenny's old employer Budweiser (pint $6, growler $6--8). 94 Orchard St between Broome and Delancey Sts (212-254-4677,

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