Listings and reviews (3)
Inside an artistically gritty former parking garage, Houston Hall's high, wood-raftered ceilings and 8,000-square-foot room keep personal space intact and conversations surprisingly audible. The often packed beer mecca slings huge, sudsy mugs of brewskis to a predominately dude-heavy crowd hoisting comically large one-liter steins. The more manageable 12-ounce and half-liter mugs afford a greater range of sampling from the ten rotating taps of Greenpoint Beer Works. But you can also sip from extensive wine (splits and whole bottles only) and cocktail dockets featuring riffs on classics like an herbaceous, cilantro-tinged margarita and original concotions like the citrusy Flatiron spiced with rye whiskey. To sop it all up, the kitchen turns out carby pub bites like fried pickles, beer-battered onion rings, chili dogs, and mammoth salty pretzels, served soft and warm with a mildly spicy mustard for dunking. With six large skylights covering much of the roof and huge windows, the brick-walled hall offers a sunny beer-garden-like experience year-round.
Upright Brew House
With table service, real napkins and la-di-da grilled cheeses, Upright matches the trappings of a neighborhood wine bar with the menu of a beer hall. It’s a little jarring when you see brew house and find designer wall tiles and fresh flowers instead of the expected plasma screens and collectable coasters. But for the adult crowd of predinner-drinking locals who already look at home, it’s the evolution of the neighborhood watering hole they’ve been waiting for. DRINK THIS: A solid pint. The beer list offers 12 taps and 26 bottles and cans, without a single macrobrew in sight. It’s not a menu to rival the city’s top taprooms—no obscure imports or cult vintages, and you can find many of the same selections at your local grocery store. But along with familiar names like Sixpoint Apollo ($6), beer geeks can order from a handful of well-chosen sips, while more exotic choices can also be found on the brief “large bottle” list. GOOD FOR: A casual date with the discerning beer drinker. Unless your companion has a kink for TVs and beardy old men, the average pub isn’t that romantic. Here, couples can cozy up over a porter in a candlelit corner, while the retro-rock soundtrack stays low enough for you to softly whisper tasting notes into each other’s ears. And if your date isn’t so big on brews, there is also a modest, mostly West Coast wine list running $8–$13 a glass. THE CLINCHER: Go hunting for the restroom and you’ll find yourself in the grungy basement lounge. It’s like stumbling
Scandinavian food is hotter than a Finnish sauna right now, so praise Odin that the same culinary Vikings who made gravlax sexy are out to conquer the bar scene as well. On the front line is new Greenpoint drinkery Tørst—Danish for “thirst”—helmed by legendary “gypsy brewer” Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø and chef Daniel Burns, formerly of the planet’s hottest restaurant, Noma in Copenhagen. 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. DRINK THIS: Something you’ve never heard of and can’t pronounce. This will not be difficult to find: The ever-changing, 21-tap draft menu can move faster than a Swedish vallhund (some beers last just a few kegs then disappear forever), but previous mouthfuls have included cognac-barrel-aged imperial stout Hel & Verdoemenis 666 from Netherlands cult favorite De Molen, and Jolly Pumpkin’s highly hyped Oro De Calabaza golden ale. A more permanent fixture on the menu is Jarnit-Bjergsø’s own Evil Twin Brewing, which bookends the taps with the citrusy, low-alcohol IPA Bikini Beer (eight ounces $6) on the lighter end to an exclusive port-barrel-aged version of its popular Even More Jesus imperial stout (eight ounces $8), rich with plum and molasses flavors and clocking in at a mighty 12 percent ABV. Burns has plans for a tasting-menu-only restaurant in the back of the bar, but for now, you can (an