New York City

Like a Local: Top 20 Craft Beer Bars in Brooklyn

by Christopher Kompanek  |  Published February 23, 2017

Brooklyn has a dizzying array of bars with impressive beer lists and a growing number of local breweries to supply fresh pints. The lauded Brooklyn Brewery is just the beginning.

The intimate Beer Street Bar (Photo: Beer Street)

The intimate Beer Street Bar (Photo: Beer Street)

Since most of the best places fly under-the-radar, hidden behind nondescript storefronts on quiet streets, let this be your guide to twenty of the best.

Beer Street

This cozy enclave in the heart of Williamsburg offers a highly curated selection of ten taps, each more obscure and refined than the last. It’s a good sign when Other Half, a hop-focused Brooklyn microbrewery, is one of the most recognizable offerings. Others include the potently delicious Grimm Artisanal Ales and Industrial Arts, which makes a dark lager called “Night School.” Education never tasted so good.

413 Graham Ave

Northern Bell

This barbecue-meets-craft-beer joint has comfort written all over it. From the knotty wood that covers the space to the savory platters of pulled pork, Southern charm abounds. The tap offerings are extensive as well, with highlights like the potent DuClaw Devil’s Milk, clocking in at a whopping 10.5% ABV, and Revolution Wild Logenberry, a sour aged in wine barrels for two-and-a-half years.

612 Metropolitan Ave

The Diamond

The colorful digs of The Diamond (Photo: The Diamond)

The colorful digs of The Diamond (Photo: The Diamond)

The Diamond is Greenpoint’s approximation of the “Cheers” bar. Located on a quiet and unassuming street, this bar’s warmth is felt immediately upon entering. The focal point is a large semi-circular bar that invites imbibing along with convivial conversation – just refrain from shouting as the vibe is decidedly chill. The well-stocked beer list is divided into three sections: session beer, middleweight beer and strong beer. Each offers bold options like Mikkeller’s “No Thanks Given,” a porter with pumpkin and cranberries that clocks in at just under 6% ABV.

43 Franklin St

Threes Brewing

Though you can find this brewery’s beers at many of the fine places on this list, go straight to the source and you will be rewarded with an array of top-notch creations to drink in a stylish, expansive taproom. Highlights among the two-dozen offerings include “False Witness,” a Saison aged in red wine barrels, and a pair of IPAs titled “I Hate Myself” and “Unreliable Narrator.” Food from the Meat Hook and coffee from Ninth Street Espresso provide fuel for more brew sampling.

333 Douglass St

Spuyten Duyvil

A peek inside Spuyten Duyvil (Photo: Spuyten Duyvil)

A peek inside Spuyten Duyvil (Photo: Spuyten Duyvil)

Spuyten Duyvil has been around long before Williamsburg became the go-to area for bars. These pioneers pride themselves on going where others aren’t, as their subheading “rare and obscure” suggests. Offerings include Greenflash’s aptly named “Palate Wrecker” and a Kölsch from Hopfenstark in Quebec. Named for a residential neighborhood in the far flung reaches of the Bronx, this narrow red tin ceilinged spot evokes a bohemian’s living room and features a lush backyard.

359 Metropolitan Ave

The Brazen Head

From the outside, this mainstay watering hole looks like a nondescript Irish pub, but walk inside and be amazed by the offerings and backyard, which hosts film screenings during warmer months. With a generous happy hour and gentle prices all around, this local favorite, named after a line in James Joyce’s Ulysses, is a living monument to a bygone New York. Taps include Well’s and Young’s double chocolate stout from the UK, along with easily quaffable crafts like Ommegang Witte.

228 Atlantic Ave

Torst

The elegant digs of Torst (Photo: Torst)

The elegant digs of Torst (Photo: Torst)

If you didn’t have a drink and just walked through this gleaming gem, you’d be hard pressed to know it was a beer bar, let alone one of the best in the city. The walls and floor are covered in wood, evoking a Scandinavian sauna, while the twenty-one tap lines are concealed behind a white marble backsplash and matching bar top. Selections like “The Nothing,” a 13% ABV Russian Imperial Stout from J. Wakefield Brewing, are served in elegant wine glasses and available in 5oz, 8oz or 14oz pours.

615 Manhattan Ave

Bar Great Harry

The aptly boastful name of this craft beer mecca marks its preeminent status in the rapidly gentrifying residential neighborhood of Carroll Gardens. Its digs have a decidedly more humble vibe, with offerings and specials scrawled on chalkboards and pinball machines in the back room. The nearly two-dozen taps include Common Roots Last Light IPA and The Bruery’s 6 Geese A Laying, both are served in 8oz pours. Also on draft, a mead from Denmark, with a 19% ABV.

280 Smith St

Brooklyn Public House

Outside Brooklyn Public House (Photo: Brooklyn Public House)

Outside Brooklyn Public House (Photo: Brooklyn Public House)

Located a short walk from the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Barclays Center, this craft pub is stocked with favorites, like Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and Sixpoint’s Sweet Action. It’s not a place that wows by obscurity; rather, it beckons return, just as a favorite, well-worn sweatshirt that feels like a second skin. To complete the experience, they have a three-bedroom apartment above the bar that can be rented out on Airbnb, ideal for having that breakfast beer the next morning.

247 Dekalb Ave

Keg and Lantern

This Greenpoint brewpub makes all its beers in-house. With over a dozen brews that span the flavor gamut, from golden ale to rye IPA, it’s hard not to be satiated here. The Green Eyes IPA is brewed fresh every two weeks, creating a vibrant floral taste that is as refreshing as it is bitter. Mr. Red, a barrel-aged sour, is made with black currants and cherries and makes a good choice for any wine drinkers who are dragged along.

97 Nassau Ave

Radegast Hall and Biergarten

The cozy bar at Radegast (Photo: Radegast Hall and Biergarten)

The cozy bar at Radegast (Photo: Radegast Hall and Biergarten)

This popular Williamsburg spot is a modern update on the classic German beer hall. Tradition is alive and well in this cavernous spot, where drafts selections, like Hofbräuhaus and Weihenstephaner, are served by the pint, liter or pitcher. Exposed brick and a heated garden complement the theme of rustic comfort. Crowd favorites include Bratwurst served in pretzel buns along with other generous mid-week specials.

113 N 3rd

The Gate

The Gate’s storied digs (Photo: The Gate)

The Gate’s storied digs (Photo: The Gate)

Tucked away on a leafy street in Park Slope, Brooklyn’s quintessential residential neighborhood, this craft beer tavern was the first in the area when it opened in 1997. While 7th and 5th Avenues are now dotted with many competitors, The Gate is still a cut above, with offerings like Finback Oscillation 006 and Central Waters Headless Heron, a double IPA and a barrel-aged pumpkin ale respectively. The warm vibe that resonates throughout this classic spot makes the beers taste even better.

321 5th Ave

Greenpoint Beer and Ale

Outside of Greenpoint Beer and Ale (Photo: Greenpoint Beer and Ale)

Outside of Greenpoint Beer and Ale (Photo: Greenpoint Beer and Ale)

Located in an old warehouse on the border between Williamsburg and Greenpoint, this expansive space does double duty as a brewery and bar. Their concoctions often have playful names, like the 2.9% mild ale “Fisticuffs” and a specialty grain appropriately dubbed “Roggen with the Devil.” Grab a seat at the bar, which forms a square in the center of the space, and take in all the activity.

7 N 15th St

The Graham

The only place on the list that hosts DJ events, this prized chameleon can be mistaken for a convivial neighborhood hang, with a long and narrow bar to sidle up to with a small group of friends. Taps include the local Bushwick brewery Braven Brewing Company, whose White IPA is a versatile drink for all seasons. Kick it up a notch with a draft of Dogfish Head’s 90-Minute IPA, served in a generous 12oz pour. Prices are gentle here as well, a signature of bars in this rapidly developing nabe.

151 Meserole St

4th Down Sports Bar

Taps and screens at 4th Down (Photo: 4th Down Sports Bar)

Taps and screens at 4th Down (Photo: 4th Down Sports Bar)

This unabashed shrine to all things gaming isn’t going to win any design awards. The décor might scream Bud Light, but the beer list is actually quite impressive, with brews from Greenport Harbor, Downeast Cider House and New Jersey Brewery River Horse. There is an unquantifiable pleasure to be had from following a fine pale ale with a game of arcade basketball.

750 Grand St 

The Well

This sprawling beer playground combines the best elements of an exclusive craft beer den and German garden, and then magnifies them for effect. The 60 taps that line the endless bar include local rarities like Kings County Brewers Collective’s red IPA “Nightmare on Troutman Street,” with an eerie ABV of 6.66%, and Transmitter’s M1 Saison. Outside, a sprawling concrete backyard is littered with picnic tables and games of cornhole. If ever there was a bar to spend an entire day (and possibly night), this would be it.

272 Meserole St

Left Hand Path

Despite its occult-sounding name, Left Hand Path is the epitome of retro cool. With blue leather stools and low-hanging lights that emit a warm glow, this stylish bar feels simultaneously of the past and future. Adding to this time dysphoria, personal USB charging ports are located underneath the bar. The tap list is also impressive, with Catskill’s Freak Tractor Wild Ale (made with wild yeast) and Kings County Brewers Collective’s Extra Pale Ale, among many others.

89 Wyckoff St

Luckydog

For beer lovers traveling with a pooch, this is the place to go. The well-worn wood that covers the bar is perfect for man and his best friend or just those craving some canine attention. While there are some throwaway taps like Pacífico, the draft list impresses with options like The Bruery’s Mischief, a strong pale ale. Special selections include Bronx Brewery’s unfiltered IPA Bill and Sal’s Excellent Adventure, which is made for only five bars.

303 Bedford Ave

Skinny Dennis

The bar at Skinny Dennis (Photo: Tim McDonnell)

The bar at Skinny Dennis (Photo: Tim McDonnell)

New York is filled with unique experiences that break the mold of expectation, of which this honky-tonk bar in the heart of Williamsburg is a shining example. Stepping inside the establishment — named after a session musician who died tragically young and featuring a steady array of talented acts — is like teleporting to Nashville. Dancing is encouraged. The beer list is displayed on an old illuminated 7-UP branded sign, boasting  Brooklyn Brewery’s Blast, a double IPA, among other offerings — a far cut above the average trucker bar.

152 Metropolitan Ave

Pine Box Rock Shop

This vegan-friendly watering hole features earthy beers like Other Half’s Broccoli Double IPA and New Belgium’s Fruit Fly Passionfruit Sour Ale, along with more standard brews like Sixpoint’s Resin. Empanadas from the Park Slope vegan eatery VSPOT make for ideal snacks. Collage art covering the walls and bathrooms adds to a laid-back DIY feel that encourages lingering. For those craving dairy, the famed new age pizzeria Roberta’s is just around the corner.

12 Grattan St

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