What it is: The first brewery in Brooklyn, arriving at (and partly responsible for) the resurgence of the craft brewing industry in New York in the late 1980s.
Why we love it: The Brooklyn Brewery has been providing quality and innovative brews to the borough since 1988, when founders Steve Hindy and Tom Potter delivered the very first cases to a parched community of beer drinkers. With year-round staples like their flagship Brooklyn Lager, seasonal favorites like the Brooklyn Summer (those cans!) and specialties like the coveted Monster Ale and quarterly Brewmaster’s Reserves, the Brooklyn Brewery has gained notoriety around the city, country and world, today distributing in 25 states and 27 countries (most recently, the Baltics).
Events occur here regularly, from beer releases to foodie festivals, lectures and comedy nights. Check the Facebook page to see what’s going on. Free tours run every Saturday and Sunday on the half hour (Saturday from 1pm to 5pm, Sunday from 1pm to 4pm), so make a day of it with friends, family or out-of-towners looking to experience some lighthearted history and serious drinking.
What to order: If you’re game for a boozy beast of a beer, try the latest BMR (currently a quadruple ale at 9.9%). If you’re in it for the long hall, go for the 1/2 Ale (a hoppy, sessionable saison) to double your drinking time.
Regular tip: Get there early if you want to score a table, and definitely take advantage of the order-in (pizza or any other nearby eats) policy to enjoy a longer (read: less wasted) stay.
What it is: A loungy neighborhood hangout with games, free popcorn and a killer jukebox that provides a merciful respite from the breast-feeding crowd that frequents the neighborhood.
Why we love it: Not only is High Dive a Brokelyn Beer Book four-peat featured bar, it’s only gotten better over the years. The custom curated jukebox full of mixed CDs includes a gamut of good drinking music: Big Star, The Kinks, The Pixies, and the Modern Lovers. Oh, and it’s got a big stack of board games and some pinball machines. We’re suckers for pinball.
What to order: Try one of the 19 rotating draft beers or the standard PBR or Yuengling, which are only $3 during happy hour. The free popcorn station has grown to include its own condiments rack and bar snacks now include savory pies for $6 and sausage rolls for $4.
Regular tip: In the spirit of giving, High Dive has a lovely “buy a friend a drink” board, where you can prepay for your pals’ tab. High Dive is also one of the few bars to be included every time we do a Beer Book, so show them some extra love while you’re there!
What it is: A young yet historied mainstay in the making with a focus on New York craft beer.
Why we love it: The Brew Inn may have only opened in November of 2013, but the space has its history. This is due primarily to owner Martin Cyran inheriting the space from his parents, who ran a Polish restaurant called Happy End here years ago, and secondly because much of the space is outfitted in reclaimed materials–the bar (recycled doors), the light fixtures (antique pictures frames) and other decorum (old street lamps) have been thoughtfully repurposed, adding to the homemade charm. Another big plus for hop heads: beer paraphernalia. Everywhere you turn, beer branding is present, from the bar stools made of beer signs to the door knobs and bathroom stall handles made with tap handles.
The bar started out serving only New York brewed beers, and still does a pretty good job of keeping a majority of the 27 taps local–there are some Pennsylvania and New Hampshire brews snuck in, due to customer demand for out-of-state favorites like Victory and Smuttynose. An upgrade since last year is the full bar, so for the thirsty folks who’ve had their fill of barley and hops (if that’s possible), liquor and wine is now available.
What to order: The place may look like a modern Brooklyn beer bar (because it is) but it’s still Polish at heart. Pierogies (potato and cheese, mushroom or beef) are just 50 cents a piece on Mondays, and well worth your pennies. Another Polack option is the kielbasa reuben, which you can get with a beer for just $12 during happy hour, every day from 4 to 7pm. If you’re feeling less adventurous, substitute with a burger and beer with tater tots.
Regular tip: Remember that thing we said about beer paraphernalia? Buy a beer flight and you can purchase the paddle to take home with you. Want to take the beer home, too? You can buy it in a growler, and even claim a locker in the bar to hold the thing when you’re not using it. The Brew Inn knows your shelf space is stupidly limited and you can’t fit another giant glass jug in your kitchen…or maybe that’s just us.
What it is: A neighborhood bar in forever-transient Williamsburg, South 4th Bar that transitions with the seamlessness of a Transformer from quiet and productivity-enhancing coffice to loud and populated drinking spot.
Why we love it: You can spend the entire day here. Start at 7am and take advantage of the free wifi and cheap coffee to get your work done, and then sidle up to the bar and relax when the regulars start coming in around 4 or 5. And don’t bother leaving for lunch, just ask the bartenders which spot in their full menu book will best satisfy your hunger. Kings of Karaoke starting on Thursdays is just one more reason to stick around. Trying to get acclimated to the neighborhood? Bring yourself, the friendly cast of regulars provide the closest thing to Cheers that you’ll find in Williamsburg.
What to order: Their $5 beer and shot special is a cheap complement to their coffee if you want to change speeds.While things are icy, take advantage of hot toddies, but once things warm up around here, try their totally refreshing Hucklberry Vodka Lemonade..
Regular tip: South 4th is the perfect bar for creative types, offering an absolutely stacked Make Your Own Bloody Mary Bar every Saturday and Sunday for just $5, and holding a yearly chili cook off around the same time as the Super Bowl.
What it is: A pinball-lover’s paradise that serves up the good brews and good tunes while you bang those pleasure machines.
Why we love it: Because we’ll take pinball over Big Buck Hunter any day, and Jackbar offers up a pinball selection that’s hard to find this side of the Jersey shore. The 9 pinball machines come from owner Jon Ehrlich’s personal collection, and range from old classics to brand new, state-of-the-art models. If you’re not into the silver ball, the bar also offers up board games and shows old movies on the TV.
What to order: Try one of the 18 draft lines or 15 bottles and cans; upgrade anything to a beer-and-a-shot happy meal for $2. You can munch on some old-school Jiffy Pop here too.
Regular tip: The pinball machines come from the personal collection of owner Jon Erhlich, who also owns Reciprocal, the Manhattan skate shop that doubles as a pinball arcade.
What it is: Hamilton’s is one of the best reasons you can think of for heading over to Windsor Terrace. A cozy wine bar with great craft beers, as well as an all-star kitchen, it’s a great neighborhood spot to check out for dinner, or just some tasty wings and beer.
Why we love it: Everything Hamilton’s does seems to be top-notch.From mulled drinks in winter, it’s got a fantastic menu that will keep you coming back to try all the other dishes, and on top of all that, it’s a relaxed yet vibrant bar in a neighborhood that doesn’t often get a lot of traffic from outside the neighborhood. You wouldn’t guess it from inside Hamilton’s, which feels like stumbling onto a scene that you feel kind of dumb for not knowing about before. It’s an excellent date spot, straight up, with its small, well-crafted dishes and great wines, this is the kind of place to go and have a nice cozy few drinks.
What to order: If it’s winter, check out their mulled wine. Food-wise, mac and cheese with bacon or the tender-as-anything grilled squid.
Regular tip: Hamilton’s is owned by the same people who run Alchemy, so if you’re a fan of that Park Slope fixture, you can get a sense of what to expect here!
What is it: A Brooklyn staple nestled in the South Slope, boasting both cult celebrity and a history stretching back to Prohibition. Freddy’s, with its trademark comfortable and casual flavour is friendly and endlessly interesting.
Why we love it: Whether you’re there for the acid-tavern experience (TVs run award-winning video montages 24/7) or to see a free music, comedy, or art show show in the back room, Freddy’s always has something to revive a sleepy night. This neighborhood favorite hosts a welcome mix of locals and far-flung visitors, thanks to its beautiful other worldly decor, bustling vibes and charming staff. Just a few reasons why it was voted one of the best bars in the country by the likes of Esquire and others.
What to order: Aside from the whiskey and craft beers, Freddy’s offers a solid menu of what it calls “Pan-Brooklyn.” This includes burgers, fish tacos, local Polish kielbasa (meaning that they’re actually made across the street by two great Polish butchers), a curious twist on a BLT sandwich, and much more. All tasty and cheap as hell.
Regular tip: The intoxicating video collages you’ll see all over the bar are actually edited/created by co-owner Donald O’Finn.
What it is: Supercollider is a coffee shop/lounge that will amp you up with its local coffee in the morning and mellow you out with its 15 craft beers and cocktails later in the day (yeah, that’s a typical day, right?). This newcomer to Fourth Ave boasts trivia nights, open mics with live musicians, and even film screenings in its backyard.
Why we love it: Supercollider is a relaxed spot that would make for good date drinks, hanging out with friends, or even just stopping by solo and seeing what’s happening. Beyond the long bar there are booths where you can park and take up one of the serious board games kept behind the bar (Settlers of Catan, among others). Add in a backyard that hasn’t become overcrowded and you have a nice gem that welcomes a nice, steady booze-a-thon.
Who to bring: This is a great lounge to stop by with those game night friends, or for that nice, quiet first date drink.
What to order: Any of their 18 craft beers will do fine, or their coffee, if that’s your steez.
Fun fact: One block away from the Prospect Ave stop on the R train, this bar might be the easiest to get your drunk on within moments of your Metrocard swipe.—Eric Silver