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Best lesser-known beer bars in NYC

We all know and love Spuyten Duyvil and Muggs, but I'm looking for places to grab a pint that won't require a ride on the L train. Where are the lesser-known gems in NYC that have an impressive beer selection (and I'm not talking about Yuengling on tap--I'm looking for the sort of place that offers microbrews, lambics, belgians, etc...). What is the atmosphere like--can you hold a conversation? Get a table? Do they actually clean their tap lines every so often so your beer doesn't taste like backwash (ugh, I had a rank one this weekend that was about three shades darker than it ought to be and had some sort of sediment at the bottom!)? I'd love to find somple place in South Brooklyn, but it's good to know what's out there city-wide. All suggestions and recommendations greatly appreciated.

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    1. re: ted

      I hate that place. Last time I went the bartender was a real dick and it was like the crowd from Heartland Brewery had been transported over--complete tool shed. If that was the only bad experience I'd had there I'd be willing to overlook it but it's been the norm. I can do without the nasty attitude from bouncers and staff.

    2. Don't know in Brooklyn, but when in Manhatten Try d.b.a. on 1st Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Strong Belgian list and one of the only places for hand-drawn, cask conditioned English Ales.

      1. Brooklyn:

        Brazen Head - 228 Atlantic Ave

        Waterfront Ale House - 155 Atlantic Ave

        8 Replies
        1. re: patdrennan

          This is great and exactly the neighoborhood I was looking for--thank you.

          1. re: erikka

            You are welcome.

            There are several other bars within walking distance with lesser selection of beer, but certainly not lacking for atmosphere:

            Last Exit - 136 Atlantic Ave - people
            Magnetic Field - 97 Atlantic Ave - music
            Montero Bar and Grill - 73 Atlantic Ave - OLD bar, dive = great people


            1. re: patdrennan

              Magnetic Fields is great--I wish they were just a tiny bit bigger--have you ever tried playing pool there? It's near impossible but they still keep that table up on the stage. They have Big Buck Hunter--a huge plus when it comes to bars.

              1. re: erikka

                The pool table is never level and it changes because they move it all the time (due to it is the band area). Consistant slant isn't bad, inconsistant is bad. Stay away from Big Buck Hunter; it is video game crack.

                Patrick aka 'Pat the Hunter Hero'

                1. re: erikka

                  replying to myself again--

                  I would love to have a list of which bars have BBH and what version they have. Went to a bar in Red Hook yesterday (at the very end of Columbia Street-the name escapes me) and they have the newest version that allows two people to play at the same time AND you can kill assorted critters that occasionally appear. I think it's the best one yet. Wanted to go to Liberty Tap Room & Sixpoint but both were closed.

                  1. re: erikka

                    Just curious, what bar is at the end of Columbia St.? As far as I know, there's nothing at the end of Columbia St. in Red Hook , but maybe you're talking about the bar just north of the BB Tunnel that's on Columbia (but not the very end)?

                    As for BBH, Bait&Tackle on Van Brunt St. in Red Hook has it. They also have some nice beers on tap, as does the Pioneer Bar next door. Pioneer has a pool table and a rear yard with tables and a horseshoe court.

                  2. re: patdrennan

                    def get over to 4th Ave Pub on the north end of 4th ave. real close to many subway stops. 24 taps. no cask that i know of but an absolutely killer selection. really nice bartenders in my limited experience, too.

              2. Don't know if these would qualify as 'lesser knowns' but I like the GingerMan on 36th and Burp Castle (which is a bit themey but not in an annoying way, and damn, they have a good beer list).

                4 Replies
                1. re: Pupster

                  Yes--definitely lesser known. I've walked by Burp Castle a million times and never went in--will definitely try it next time in the LES.

                  1. re: Pupster

                    Burp Castle definitely fits your description. A nice selection of beers (microbrews, lambics, Belgians), and, although it's small, I've never had a problem getting a table. They also, get this, have a posted "no loud conversations" policy, and they do enforce it.

                    1. re: Pupster

                      I work near Ginger Man and absolutely hate the crowd. It's location in midtown is stumbling distance to Grand Central and Penn Station which makes it the perfect spot for all the suburbanites to cram into after work. After the frat crowd gets too old for MacDougal and the Upper East Side, they go to Ginger Man.

                      The bar itself is a great space with roughly a million taps and a long bar, but you rarely get to see any of that for all the yuppies stuffed into the place.

                      That said, the selection makes it one of the only places worth going in the area for good beer.
                      I'd definitely choose it over stout which is oppressively crowded, deafeningly loud and has a much worse selection in the upstairs bar.

                      1. re: Pupster

                        I'm not a huge fan of Burp Castle. I was taken there recently by someone who wholeheartedly recommended the place, and even *they* weren't impressed. Apparently it ain't what it used to be. When we walked in there were only two other people in there, and we felt self concious having a conversation even at normal tones.

                        Have been to Spuyten and frequent Muggs, but I second the notion of Barcade. Sure, you do have to take the L train there, but it's steps from the stop and the beer selection is impressive and ever changing. Go earlier, as the hipsters really start to show up after 9. Just a warning - don't sit at the end of the bar by the doors. You will feel like a little kid on a barstool, as the floor is apparently not even, so you sit lower on that side.

                      2. I can't believe no one mentioned the Gate. It's on Fifth Ave and 3rd St (I think), it's very warm and cozy and they have a very good beer selection. Lots of outdoor seating in good weather too.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: prunefeet

                          Sorry, forgot to mention, this is in Park Slope.

                        2. Best beer bars in NYC (known to most beer obsessed types)


                          Hop Devil Grill
                          Ginger Man
                          Collins Bar
                          Lorelei (for German beers)
                          Essex Ale House
                          Blind Tiger (they are trying to re-open in a new space)


                          Williamsburg -- Barcade, Spuyten Duyvil, Muggs Ale House, Spike Hill

                          Brooklyn Heights/Boerum Hill -- Waterfront Ale House (try to go when Alan is bartending -- he is fantastic) and Brazen Head

                          The selection at the Gate has been fairly boring of late. Definitely skip Last Exit and Montero's unless you want to drink Bud all night. D.B.A. has horrible service and they seem to always be running out of the Belgian beers. Not worth a trip anymore in my opinion.

                          Spuyten Duyvil

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: DeeDee

                            spuyten is opening a beerstore where bedford cheese used to be, i hear

                            1. re: eatyououtofhouseandhome

                              I heard they are opening up a bbq joint down Metropolitan Ave.

                          2. I am a bog fan of David Copperfield's, despite its location on the Upper East Side.

                            1. DeeDee, Thank you, Thank you, thank you. As a result of your post I went to Essex Ale House today. Since I moved to NYC from the Hop-Heaven Pacific NW 3 years ago I've been looking for a place like this. Sure I've been to Blind Tiger which was great if you don't mind dropping $8 for a beer (which I have), but this is the type of laid back, price reasonable place I've been looking for. Their 5-8PM happy hour 2 for 1s ($5 for 2 craft beers--are you kidding!?) is awesome. I think I'll be pulling up a bar stool to this place for a long time. Thanks again.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Dave_G

                                Check out the Waterfront Ale House in Brooklyn or Manhattan. Laid back, always a couple off the beaten path hop heavy beers on tap, a $4 special beer each week and good food.

                              2. Geman restaurant on 7th st. and Ave C. Zum Schnieder. Good food and great selection of beer

                                1. 200 Fifth at 200 5th Avenue and Union Park Slope

                                  over 40 beers on TAP plus bottles
                                  sports bar atmosphere
                                  diverse food too.
                                  reasonable prices.

                                  1. A long time ago, I went with my dad to a place called Jeremy's Ale House near South Street Seaport. Does it still exist?

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: MRS

                                      THIS is the name of the place I've been trying to remember all day!!! Thank you thank you thank you!! They have really excellent fried fish here as well, right? It is a great spot with a big beer selection, not really craft beer oriented or with an exotic slant. But what they do have is well poured and you can buy by the pitcher.

                                      1. re: MRS

                                        Awww, that's a sore memory for me. That place was one of my favorites, located in an old warehouse with bras and neckties hanging from the ceiling and a concrete floor.... picnic bench seating.... it was a favorite. Unfortunately, they moved down the street to another location which is nowhere near as unique - they did move some of the bras and neckties though. I didn't really stick around - it was too depressing.

                                        1. re: MightyYar

                                          They moved! Oh no! I was just thinking it was time for a springtime field trip for a bucket of fried clams and beer!

                                          1. re: ballulah

                                            Well, charm is the wrong word for the converted loading dock that they occupied before... but whatever it was about the old location is what made that bar for me. The new place has low ceilings and is very unspectacular, but the food remains good and the beer still comes in 32oz styrofoam cups. Even the regulars seem to be the same.

                                            I used to go out of my way to bring people over there or meet up with friends there, but it's not that kind of bar anymore. If I worked down there it would still probably be my favorite "dive" bar.

                                      2. When I come to NY I stay at the Seaport Inn. Across the street is Jeremy's Ale House, it's a really fun beery dive (and it opens at 9:30 in the morning ......)

                                        1. Bayard's Ale House on Hudson and Charles St has a great selection of English and Irish beers, I always appreciate a spot where I can get Old Speckled Hen, Boddingtons, Fullers and Newcy Brown on tap, and they taste fresh. Great Irish pub atmosphere without being over the top or a frat boy johnny hang out.

                                          The Bohemian Beer Garden in Astoria might serve the most extraordinarily good beer in all of New York. Every beer I tried tasted better than the next, and they were beers I was familiar with in a bottle (or other taps at other bars) that tasted completely different on tap there.

                                          1. Here are 2 ends of the spectrum. First thought I had was the Peculiar Pub on Bleeker, OK NYU college crowd, but talk about amazing beer selection, can't be beat. Other end, check this place out The Silver Swan on 20th, between Park and B'Way. They always have some really comical sayings scribbled on a chalk board on the side walk, AND Saturday night is drag queen night, always good for an entertaining Saturday night and the tap and bottled beer selection is great!

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: greengo

                                              The problem with Peculiar Pub is that they have such an enormous selection (and move so little of the unusual stuff to the built-in NYU crowd) that the beer is usually quite stale and off tasting. They do have an unbelievable selection of beer, though.

                                              1. re: ballulah

                                                My biggest problem with Peculier has always been it's terribly abusive staff. Maybe that's improved a bit, but I expect they're still hiring from the same angsty pool of candidates who don't actually give a damn about what you want to drink.


                                              1. re: acpi

                                                That's a good one, actually! Forgot about that place.

                                              2. Don't forget Henry Street Ale House in Brooklyn Heights. Excellent beer selection and fried pickles!

                                                1. Good lookin’ out to the Jeremy's Ale House near South Street Seaport- Great place for beers and great calamari. Angry Wades is great on Smith Street or the Chip Shop on Atlantic for a nice selection of beers on tap.

                                                  1. I'm a big fan of Croxley Ales. It's on Ave. B between 2nd and 3rd. Check out the the website - www.croxley.com

                                                    1. I know this is an old thread, but if you stop by the DUMBO area in Brooklyn there's a relatively new place called reBar (147 Front St.) with an airy space and a sweet selection of Belgians, Germans and Micros on tap and in bottles.
                                                      Check it out sometime:

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Psychobabble

                                                        Wow, that looks gorgeous. How's the food? I have a friend who lives right around there and I'm sick of going to Superfine and 169 Jay every time I make the trek.

                                                        1. re: ballulah

                                                          As far as food, I've only shared a three cheese plate, which was well presented with slivers of baguette. I think they just have small plates for now (no real dinner like at Superfine). In fact, we ordered that cheese plate as "dessert" after dining at Superfine. All in all, it is the best "beer bar" in DUMBO. And Time Out NY just named it the best new bar in NYC (damn them!).

                                                      2. No beers on tap, but for a really long list of bottled micros, belgians, etc. the three "room" bars are great - the room, the other room, and another room, located in tribeca, soho, and the w village (can't remember which one is where). they are all small and dark and great for catching up with a friend or two.