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Brooklyn Beer Bars Part 3 - Pacific Standard

This is the third installment of my "Brooklyn Beer Bars" series which began Wednesday. To read the first installment, including a write up of the Waterfront Ale House and definition of just what constitutes a "beer bar", click here - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/604687. The 2nd installment, a write up of Cherry Tree, is here - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/604993

Pacific Standard
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82 4th Ave - between Bergen and St. Marks
http://www.pacificstandardbrooklyn.com/

This place bills itself as a California style beer bar. Some day I would like to go to the west coast and do extensive research to find out of this is true. In the meantime I’ll note that the only thing Californian about the place is the beers, and even a few of those are from the East Coast. The crowd is from Brooklyn and is therefore local and sustainable.

I liked this place a lot.

Ambiance
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The bar seems wider than a standard New York store front and is pleasantly spacious. At the rear of the front room is a back lighted stained glass window that attracts the eye. There are about 4 mid sized tables in the front by the door. In the rear there’s a comfortable back room fitted out with the bookshelves and couches that became mandatory for back rooms about 5 years ago. There was also a big screen TV showing a basketball game. As far as I could tell the TV had it’s sound off, a nice touch. There was no TV in the front room.

The lighting was normal for a bar, not overly bright or overly dim.

Staff
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There were two young bartenders working the long bar. They were efficient and friendly and better yet, they seemed proud to be working there.

The Crowd
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The age level was the same as Cherry Tree, about 23 to 24, but there were subtle differences. I’ve got it. Cherry Tree was filled with self consciously hip Business majors. Pacific Standard caters to English and History majors with a smattering of Psych majors and engineers. They appeared less polished than the crowd at Cherry Tree or the 4th Ave. Pub but I thought that was a good thing.

The place was about two thirds full at 9:30 on a Friday night and the crowd was well behaved considering that they were young and drinking beer. Compare that to the Gate in Park Slope where the crowd starts shrieking at 7:00PM and doesn’t let up until closing.

Soundtrack
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Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, the Kinks, Neil Young, and various folkish sounding things that might have been playing on a college radio station. The volume was low enough not to hinder conversation.

The Beers
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They have around 16 beers on draft. To make choosing easier, there’s a printed beer list with a short flavor profile of each beer. From my sampling, I found the profiles to be accurate and very useful in selecting the types of beers you’re likely to enjoy. Whenever I saw “Belgian” I immediately crossed that brew off the list. Here’s what I had:

Stone Pale Ale – frothy on the tongue with a touch of sweetness. For a pale ale, it was surprisingly unhoppy. The bit of sweetness threw me too. Some people might enjoy this but it’s not for me.

Bear Republic Racer 5 – as soon as it touches your tongue it seems to explode into foam. That doesn’t sound pleasant but it is. The beer is hoppy but not overly so and the flavors are nicely balanced. I’d be happy to drink a lot more of this.

Sierra Nevada ESB – I was looking forward to this since Sierra Pale Ale is my default beer at home. The ESB isn’t a bad beer at all but it seemed to have a little less character than the standard pale ale. I wouldn’t bother with this again.

Chelsea Hop Angel – the beer tip sheet called this a California style cask conditioned ale although unlike the other beers it’s brewed in New York. I’ve been to London over 20 times; maybe they brew them that way out in California but the Chelsea Hop Angel was a ringer for a well made British bitter. It was creamy on the tongue with a pleasant balance of hops. Since it was a hand pulled cask ale it was cool rather than chilled and naturally carbonated. In a London pub this beer could hold it’s own. In a Brooklyn bar it was heaven.

The cask ales, like all their beers, rotate so I’m not sure how often the Hop Angel comes around. This is probably a good thing since I’d be tempted to move closer to Pacific Standard and start dating this beer.

Extra Points
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They serve bar snacks. I believe I saw a meat and cheese platter being carried into the back room. Yelp posters also say that the management doesn't mind if you get food delivered from restaurants.

Behind the bar is a chart labeled The Periodic Table of Beer Styles. It’s a ringer for the Periodic Table of Elements and is probably designed to appeal to those engineers I mentioned earlier.

I observed a girl at the bar eating what appeared to be sauerkraut right out of a jar. I have no explanation for this.

The bar has a dark side. They have a walk in refrigerator behind the bar and inside I observed cans of Schaeffer and Bud light. No one actually drank any of this stuff while I was there. Perhaps they do a special “Hipster Night” promotion on Tuesdays.

I would avoid ordering a cocktail in this bar. At one point I saw one of the bartenders sidle up to a computer behind the bar and call up an application called Webtender. It was an on line guide to making mixed drinks and he was looking up how to make an Old Fashioned. This is a probably a bad sign for Cocktailians. On the other hand the bartenders are whizzes at working the hand pump.

There was a sign behind the bar that said “Ask about our frequent drinker program.” I think I will look into this.

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Coming Monday - 4th Ave. Pub.

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  1. Another witty and comprehensive description. And what a sales job. So now we have to try Pacific Standard.

    I didn't know that Schaeffer was even around any more. I'm sure you know there was a time when it was the tap beer of choice all over NYC.

    1. I'm getting a cumulative and deliriously happy buzz from reading these dispatches, which is, of course, the ultimate compliment. You're making me realize how lazy I've been regarding the beer department of late; if I were to do a series, it would be along the lines of "Key Food beers part 5: A six-pack of Sam Adams Cherry Wheat." (That would, of course, follow on the heels of my magnum opus series on donut shops that also serve fried chicken and chop suey) You're inspiring me to be more discerning, get off my ass and get back to the good stuff on tap.

      Please continue with this series. It's very enjoyable.
      P.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Polecat

        Thanks. It's been fun writing these and it's not exactly hard work visiting various bars. :-)

        A few months ago I realized how lazy I had become. I was drinking the same handful of good beers in a few of places. I knew there was plenty of other good beers out there and thought that I was missing a lot.

        Last night I tried to go to Bar Great Harry on Smith St. I'd been there once before and had liked it. This time around when I opened the door I was greeted with a solid wall of sound - their music system was cranked to top volume. I just turned around and walked away. Too bad, because they have a nice selection of ales. On my previous visit I recall that the music had been at moderate volume. I'll come back for another visit to see if the silliness has stopped.

        Instead, I visited the Brazen Head on Atlantic. It's a great place and I'll give it the full treatment later this week.

        1. re: Polecat

          Polecat --

          Maybe you can convince Bob to join you for a "Hostess Bars of Flushing" expose? So far, you're the only one to get me drinking an $8 Bud (or was it Hein.?) before a meal that cost less.

          Bob -- nice job. I wouldnt mind going to this place. Sauerkraut, huh?

          1. re: Steve R

            It sure looked like sauerkraut.

            Yes, this place is very laid back. So is Brazen Head, which I hope to post about later this week.

            1. re: Steve R

              Steve,
              Ouch. Let a guy live something down, willya.
              P.

          2. Sierra Nevada ESB stands for Early Spring Beer, not Extra Special Bitter. It is somewhat lower in hoppiness and alcohol than Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. If you want to take a step up from SNPA, try SN Torpedo Extra IPA. Please note that I have only had the bottled versions of ESB and Torpedo, but it still should give you some direction.

            1. We were Pacific Standard on Friday night and your review is pretty much spot on. Nice crowd and a spacious back room. Some were watching the games on the huge screen in back, others played darts. A good selection of craft beers that might not appeal to everyone, so if you’re not sure what to order just ask the bartender for a taster rather then waste that precious ale which one of my friends did (imbecile.) They also have a quiz night on Sunday’s @ 8:30 with a $40 bar tab as a prize. Their food was nothing special, salsa had a decent kick, so I’d order in. And yes the bartenders did not mind just don’t be a slob about it. One thing that I did find odd were the amount of dogs in the bar (I thought the DOH had was a rule about this?) I’m a dog fan and there wasn’t any Roger Vick-type shenanigans going on, just thought it was a bit quirky.

              3 Replies
              1. re: MShapiro

                "A good selection of craft beers that might not appeal to everyone, so if you’re not sure what to order just ask the bartender for a taster rather then waste that precious ale which one of my friends did (imbecile.)"

                Yes, the bartenders are very accommodating in serving up free tastes before you buy a full pint. Another option is to check out their printed beer list. They provide a brief description of each beer and I thought it was very accurate. OTOH if you're traveling with amateurs the description of a beer as "hoppy" probably wouldn't mean much.

                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  Bob,
                  Since you brought up "hoppy"... Was the Chelsea Hop Angel hoppy? Since you described as an English Bitter (like a Old Specked Hen?) but it has "Hop" in its title which throws me off. And I also noticed in all the bar reviews that you've been trying IPAs which are obviously hoppy.
                  (I am LOVING the beer bar talk btw!)

                  1. re: funniduck

                    I didn't think the Chelsea Hop Angel stressed hops overly much. Sure, they were there, but it wasn't one of those "extreme beers" that have come on to the market recently.

              2. I love Pacific Standard, and one reason why it's a California-style beer bar is that the owners are UC Berkeley grads. Please note the blue and gold on the walls. As a Cal alum myself, this just brings it ever closer to beer bar perfection in my book.