Photos: Lee Nelson
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To think of Brooklyn, visions of Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, and even the Brooklyn Dodgers of yesteryear spring to mind.
Today, New York City’s most populous borough has an unexpected offering: an eclectic beer scene.
My husband Chris and I took a day to visit several of Brooklyn’s varied beer establishments.
While Brooklyn Brewing is easily seen as the heart of the area’s beer community, the more significant contribution is its growing number of beer cafes and multi-tap pubs.
We started our day with a ride on the NYC subway’s R line, arriving at Court Street station in Brooklyn from Manhattan's Rockefeller Center in about 35 minutes.
Waterfront Ale House
Our first stop: Waterfront Ale House (a.k.a. Pete's Ale House in Brooklyn), the “home of warm beer, lousy food, and an ugly owner.”
During the short stroll from the station to the pub, we passed an odd mixture of office buildings and tree-lined residential streets. The August heat and humidity challenged our California bodies, but Waterfront’s shady wooden interior cooled us down.
The beer menu at the Waterfront Ale House refreshed us from the inside with selections from Captain Lawrence Brewing, Ithaca Beer Company, and Sixpoint Craft Ales.
With trophy winning BBQ, crispy catfish po’ boy, and a wild boar burger on the menu, it’s a shame that the heat drained us of any hunger. We opted for pints of Southampton IPA and Sam’s Serious Pilsner from High Point Brewing.
The Brazen Head
To the left and down a few short blocks from Waterfront is The Brazen Head, a down to earth neighborhood bar. The long bar and few tables created just the space I needed to cool off once again.
The bartender was friendly as he pulled Chris a Sixpoint Otis Stout on cask. I chose something a little lighter, Chelsea Brewing’s Checkered Cab Blonde. In addition to the selection of mostly East Coast brews, The Brazen Head offers an extensive list of Scotch, American Whiskey, and bourbon.
Bar Great Harry
A 15-minute walk found us at our next stop: Bar Great Harry. Simple and straight to the point, unfinished plywood floors, brick walls, and thick wood plank tables form the decor of this corner bar.
Beers from across the country and beyond pour from over 20 taps and 70 bottles. Feeling indecisive or perhaps adventurous? Order a flight. The varied flights of beer include draft, Belgian, dark, and even “trash” (3 cans of American macro-brewed beers). Bar Great Harry also offers DUB pies, authentic New Zealand-Australian meat pies from Brooklyn’s own Down Under Bakery.
We ate at a small Cuban restaurant a few doors down before we arrived, so no DUB pies for us. Instead, the Gingerman Ale from Captain Lawrence Brewing gave us the burst of energy we needed for our biggest stop of the day. We hopped on the subway and headed for Brooklyn Brewery.
Every Friday night from 6–11pm, Brooklyn Brewery opens its doors for Happy Hour. We arrived 20 minutes early and a line already formed. Several pizza delivery guys handed out to go menus as we stood around in great anticipation. Once inside, we purchased our beer tokens ($4 each or 6 for $20) and found ourselves a seat at one of the picnic tables along the wall.
Large groups of friends settled at round banquet tables. Some unloaded snacks and games, while others fetched the beer. In no time, the place was full and loud. Occasionally someone walked by with a pile of pizza boxes. It wasn’t until I stepped outside that I figured out how it worked. Call in your order and the delivery guy calls on your cell phone to let you know when your pizza is waiting outside. Pay the man and back in you go with a fresh hot pizza to go with your Brooklyn Lager.
In addition to trying Brooklyn Brewery’s Blast, a West Coast Double IPA and their Brown, we checked out some specialty offerings. For 3 tokens each, including the logo glass, we ordered Local 1, a Belgian Strong Ale, and Local 2, the dark version. It was a great finale to a busy beer day.
Whatever you’re looking for in a beer scene, you can find it in Brooklyn. Out-of-towners find great selections of New York and East Coast beers. Those with hunger can find anything from BBQ to meat pies to exotic game dishes. And whether you want simple and small or big and loud, Brooklyn has got it all. We barely scratched the surface of what Brooklyn has to offer, but by the end of the evening, we found ourselves toasting this eclectic beer scene. “Beer’s to you, Brooklyn!”
Merideth and her husband Chris encourage others to find their own beer adventures on the website thebeergeek.com.
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Website and all photos copyright © 2001–2016 Lee W. Nelson