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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

            Patrick

            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.