New York’s hard-charging beer bar scene shows no sign of fizzing out with a diverse crop of dives and pubs leading the pack. These craft beer bars, beer gardens and beer halls serve not only the best beer in NYC, but also some mouthwatering bar food and snacks and weekend brunch. If you’re a beer lover, here are the bars you need to check out in NYC.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in NYC
Best beer bars in NYC
Greenpoint drinkery Tørst—Danish for “thirst”—is helmed by legendary “gypsy brewer” Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø and chef Jesus Cervantes. These warriors are laying waste to tired ideas of what a great taproom should be, with a minimalist space that looks and smells like a modernist log cabin, and rare brews from thoughout Europe and North America.
It’s not shocking that three hops-head buddies would transform a 5,000-square-foot warehouse into a brewery. It’s more unusual, however, when that concept evolves into a bi-level beast with a bar, an event space and, of all things, a coffeeshop. The unlikely combination aligns under the direction of Sycamore cofounder Justin Israelson, entrepreneur Joshua Stylman and lawyer Andrew Unterberg. Their multipurpose space sprawls over concrete floors with all the whitewashed brick and reclaimed wood you’d expect from a Brooklyn bar, along with draft beers and cocktails that you wouldn’t.
With its deli fridges stocked with ales and lagers, and its aged steaks and whole hams dangling from steel hooks, the Cannibal could double as the set of a new dude-food show on the Cooking Channel. Run by guys and packed with them, the place is so unabashed in its bromance for craft beer and artisanal meat it’s almost a parody of a manly restaurant. If you like meat and beer, though, it’s pretty close to paradise. For restaurateur Christian Pappanicholas, the beer-obsessed carnivore behind the place, it’s the physical manifestation of some very personal passions. The spot is an unusual retail-restaurant hybrid—a beer store and a butcher shop but also a laid-back place to eat and drink.
This subterranean brew house is the unofficial clubhouse for the New York beer community, thanks to the efforts of garrulous owner Jimmy Carbone. For a beer education on the cheap, make a habit of attending the $10 Tuesday Tastings, where an expert leads guests through pours of five to six brews within a particular theme (e.g., Colorado brews, seasonal beers made with fresh hops). Because of Carbone's hands-on involvement in the local scene, his dozen taps (most $6–$8) and deep bottle collection are often the first point of entry for both hyperlocal nanobreweries and new-to-NYC imports. We've tried unfiltered Franconian lagers and a Japanese brown ale brewed at the foot of Mount Fuji at the marble-topped bar.
Long before craft entered the lexicon, there was Blind Tiger, one of the OGs of the New York beer scene. Since its arrival in 1995, Blind Tiger has achieved legendary status thanks to a meticulously curated program and some of the city's best bar food. The 28 taps ($6.50-$11), two casks and one gravity keg (usually $7), plus more than 80 bottles ($7-$55) make this the first port of call for brewhounds who want to track down pours they can't find anywhere else. Weekly events, including meet-the-brewer nights and frequent style showcases, help drinkers navigate the hunt.
Named after a family farm that once grew on Park Place, this local-focused taproom is festooned with decorative plates from old-school NYC breweries like Piels and Schaefer. On the menu, find 16 craft beers, including Other Half's Forever Simcoe DIPA and Kent Falls Apricot Gose, as well as soft pretzels and loaded grilled cheese sandwiches.
What we appreciate most about Proletariat—a slim ten-seat suds parlor from Ravi DeRossi (Death & Company, Cienfuegos)—is that it offers a new stage for craft brewing. One of the most exciting brew lists in town features rare, new and unusual beers; for beer nerds looking to escape the pub, the sometimes-overpriced and often-overcrowded place nevertheless exerts a curious magnetism.
The pared-down lineup of six drafts and one cask here speaks to owner Joe Carroll's reverence for beer. "With too many lines, the beer can sit around and get stale," he says. Spuyten's minimal draft offerings, as well as its 100-plus bottle list ($5-$45), are focused mainly on tiny European breweries. Sample old-world rarities like the thick, sherrylike Samichlaus lager from Austria or cellar-aged Cantillon lambics of various vintages ($15-$30). The cozy interior is chock-full of flea market finds, most of which are for sale. There’s also a tasty bar menu of smoked meats, pâtés, cheeses and terrines.
Venue says: “Beach Bar and Kitchen! Happy Hour Tues-Fri 4-7PM, Fri & Sat DJs 11-4am, Sat and Sunday Brunch!”
Vets of Village Pourhouse and the Taïm truck turn to Caribbean comfort food and Latin cocktails with this 144-seat bar. The Queens-born owners pay tribute to the Rockaways with the name—a nod to an abandoned beach bunker in Fort Tilden park—and shore-inspired decor, including colorful stained-wood interiors, a transparent geometric roof and a wraparound deck. The fully equipped kitchen dispatches spiced plates like jerk chicken wings, curried mussels and sticky candied plantains. Also on offer: nearly 20 domestic beers and four wines on tap.
With bars in Park Slope (Mission Dolores, the Owl Farm) and Carroll Gardens (Bar Great Harry) under their belt, beer-loving brothers Ben, Seth and Mike Wiley venture farther north for their latest hangout. Housed in a former Bed-Stuy hair salon, the bar joins spots like Bed-Vyne Brews and Black Swan in bolstering the neighborhood's craft beer scene. This 55-seat drinkery echoes the divey, low-key vibe of the trio’s other watering holes: exposed brick walls, linoleum floors and two rock-themed pinball machines. Twelve taps rotate among drafts both local (Bronx Brewery, Barrier Brewing Co.) and out-of-state (Michigan’s New Holland, Maryland’s Stillwater Artisanal Ales). A bottle-of-the-month program highlights one large-format brew, while four types of chili (lamb, chicken, beef and vegetarian) are available to accompany the booze.
Looking for a hole-in-the-wall bar?
Sweet Polly is like that perfect girl in high school: undeniably beautiful and effortlessly cool, armed with brains to back it all up. At this Prospect Heights bar from Hungry Ghost owner Murat Uyaroglu, the tables are consistently packed with well-heeled Brooklynites; the space is stunning, with gilded tin ceilings and a lush garden wall, and the cocktail execution is fingertip-kissing good. And like with the school-days Polly of your past, there are plenty of times you’ll feel ignored, but just when you’re about to smack-talk her, she gives you an extra sample of beef jerky. ORDER THIS: Bartender–co-owner Bruno Dias’s cocktails highlight unusual ingredients, like green bell peppers, BBQ bitters and yogurt, that are sure to satiate curious palates. The Golden Eye ($13) is a standout: Stumptown cold brew is stirred with Icelandic vodka, herbal Italian amaro and chocolate bitters to create a rich, velvety, caffeine-blasted drink. The bar’s head turner, however, is the rosy Rocket Lunar ($13), which is set in a snifter topped with egg-white foam and a grilled dehydrated pineapple. Inside the cup, BBQ bitters curb the sweetness of the drink’s kalamansi syrup and aged cachaça, along with an added touch of cinnamon from tiki bitters. GOOD FOR: A grown-up date for that prospective S.O. who’s slightly out of your league. Everything is on point for romance: The ambience is sumptuous, the cocktails are unconventional, and the circular, candlelit tables are tailor-made for two. Plus, t
Venue says: “Happy Hour Monday-Thursday 4-7pm and Wednesday-Saturday 11pm-1am!”