Heavy machinery and custom-stained wood taps are just two highlights at the city’s best.
It’s time to declare the best beer bar in New York. These are places with a wide, constantly rotating selection where quality is almost the foremost consideration.
The Absolute Best
615 Manhattan Ave., nr. Franklin St., Greenpoint; 718-389-6034
Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, the Dane behind Evil Twin Brewing, settled into this grand, cutting-edge home three years ago in Greenpoint. The airy Scandinavian-inspired space features 21 taps with wood handles that correspond to the beer’s color, and sometimes rotate hourly. The whole line is temperature-controlled and regulated by a carefully calibrated system that lets bartenders dispense a perfectly carbonated, exactly 38-degree pilsner into Tørst’s custom stemware. The draft list, sometimes rotated hourly, is scrawled on an oversize mirror behind the bar — you may find an Evil Twin standard like Bikini Beer or Femme Fatale Brett, or one of Jarnit-Bjergsø’s favorites from brewers such as Stillwater, the Bruery, Hof Ten Dormaal, or Brouwerij de Molen. There are another 200 beers in bottles, and Tørst’s food is worth a special mention: Better-than-usual cheese plates and fresh rugbrød — thick, dark Danish rye — come courtesy of Noma vet Daniel Burns.
2. Threes Brewing
333 Douglass St., nr. Fourth Ave., Gowanus; 718-522-2110
There are lots of reasons to spend an afternoon at the first brewery in Gowanus: The kitchen at Threes hosts an impressive rotation of visiting chefs, Ninth Street Espresso runs a coffee bar in the mornings, and the 5,000-square-foot venue has live music, draft wine, and cocktails, too. But people come for the beer. For their house brews, Threes tapped Greg Doroski, formerly of Long Island’s Greenport Harbor, to crank out an IPA- and farmhouse-heavy lineup. The daily tap list offers about a dozen of his concoctions, which vary from dark-chocolatey (a Baltic porter called Voluntary Exile) to oolong-y (an American pale ale called Attention Span). Six additional taps, meanwhile, are set aside for heavyweights like Other Half and Hill Farmstead, and the remaining gaps — if it’s fair to say any exist — are filled in by bottles that include everything from Allagash to Miller High Life.
102 St. Marks Pl., nr. First Ave.; 212-777-6707
Don’t let the name or St. Marks location put you off: The beer selection here is practically regal. The wall’s decree — “Rare, new and unusual beer” — is no lie. The bar stools are few (just ten), and the pours are modest (almost never a full 16 ounces), but beer nerds flock for each day’s 11 esoteric drafts, ten or so bottles, and several ciders. The staff favors acclaimed semi-local brews and obscure imports you won’t find elsewhere; cult favorites Grimm and Other Half regularly appear next to things the crack bar staff will probably have to explain even to devoted beer lovers, like Uerige and Kehrwieder’s Jrön-Grünhopfen-Sticke. (The staff will even know how to pronounce it correctly.)
4. The Cannibal
113 E. 29th St., nr. Park Ave.; 212-686-5480
With a serious food menu and a physical attachment to sister establishment Resto next door, the Cannibal can feel like a restaurant, but it’s still very much a bar. A damn good one, in fact. Though there are only eight beers on tap, the always-rotating offerings manage to balance cult favorites like Oxbow and Hill Farmstead with excellent local brews from Threes, Evil Twin, Other Half, and a nanobrewer from Queens called Transmitter. There are also 500 bottles available to drink there or for takeaway. You should stay, though, and maybe order the 36-ounce 50-day dry-aged rib eye for dinner.