Brooklyn Beer Bars Part 4 - 4th Ave. Pub
This is the 4th installment of my "Brooklyn Beer Bars" series which began Last week. To read the first installment, including a write up of the Waterfront Ale House and a 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. The 3rd installment covering Pacific Standard is here - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/605326
4th Avenue Pub
76 4th Avenue (between Bergen and St. Marks
This bar is located about 4 or 5 doors down from Pacific Standard but it’s worlds apart. There were things about it that annoyed me so much that I only stayed for one beer. Earlier on one of the beer bar threads someone said that they liked this place. I can certainly understand that but it's not for everyone.
It’s dark. Very very dark.
The bartender was alert and took my order promptly.
Annoying and loud. This place is as loud as the Gate and I do not consider that a compliment. Honestly, I believe if you swapped out the craft beers with Bud Light and Corona these people wouldn’t notice. The place was about 80% full.
Rap, blasted at top volume.
I didn’t count the beers but they seemed to have a good number of them.
I ordered the Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard. What a great name. It sat in the glass looking dark and sinister. Once I tasted it I was reminded of the first time I had a dark ale at McSorley’s. It looked far tougher than it tasted, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a pleasant beer but not particularly noteworthy.
I didn’t stay for a second beer. The combination of the screaming crowd and the loud rap music drove me out. A few weeks later I tried to make a 2nd visit. As I opened the door the sound hit me like a wave. I figured I'd cut my losses so I paid Pacific Standard a 2nd visit.
They have a free popcorn machine, an idea they may have picked up from the Waterfront Ale House. I don't mean that as a criticism - I wish more places did this.
Yelp says they have takeout menus behind the bar and you can order in from various local restaurants.
I’m probably being unfair to this place although based on some of the comments on Yelp I am not alone in finding this bar unpleasant due to crowding and the noise level. People who don't mind really loud bars should give it a try. The place was packed so obviously a lot of people like it.
I've had nothing but good experiences with this place. They don't seem to keep much on tap for popularity alone and many of their bartenders truly know their stuff.
Admittedly, I've gone primarily on weeknights, and crowds weren't really an issue. Also, it would be nice if they served food besides popcorn. (I hear that in the summer they fire up a barbecue.) But for the beers on tap and the vibe -- that old relaxed dark wood bar vibe and laid back crowd -- I definitely prefer it to the other places on the block.
Your reviews have been pretty good so far and I truly applaud your efforts. I live in the hood and frequent these establishments.
I've been waiting to hear your comments on 4th Avenue since it is my favorite bar (close second is the Blind Tiger). I can see how you arrived at your overall impression but I think some of the comments are a bit misleading. You make the place sound like a frat party on the Upper East.
I wish you had come during a quieter time so you could add more comments on the variety and thoughtfulness of their beer selection. Kirk does an awesome job keeping a variety of styles on draft to please the masses while including many "goodies" (including a cask) for the beer geeks. Last weekend I had: Sly Fox Renard d'Or, DogfishHead 90 Minute IPA, St Bernardus 12, Allegash White, Dale's Old Chub Cask and others. 28 taps and a cask in all.
I definitely agree with comments about the amount of noise in the winter and the crowdedness of the bar during the evenings. We usually wait for a few minutes out of the way and inevitably something opens up. In the summer, when the backyard is open, the place is far more spacious and less raucous. MOREKASHA's comments below put my general philosophy into words - drink early! I still go on Friday nights and battle the crowds but have never once had an incident with other patrons. It's a fairly tame hipster-y crowd. I'd hate for other readers to think this was a frat party sort of place based on your description.
I've been going to 4th Ave at least three times a week since it opened two years ago and have never heard rap full blast. This is just a strange comment to hear. Not saying it didn't happen, just strange. Perhaps I didn't notice it before. Definitely Indie and punk but not so much on the rap. Also, I would also disagree with the comment that if you swapped craft for Corona that nobody would notice. Of course they have your standard Stella/G&T drinkers but I think many patrons truly enjoy craft beer. If they didn't, why would they pack into 4th Ave instead of going to the Cherry Tree or Black Sheep or Connelly's?
While I myself get frustrated on weekend nights, the owners and the bartenders here truly care about good beer and the place deserves all the success. Now if I could just smoke out those G&T drinkers…
I tried to throw enough disclaimers into the review to allow for differences of opinion. It's a very popular place so clearly they're doing something right.
Evaluating a place at prime time on a Friday night certainly doesn't tell you what it's like off peak but I was fair about it. *Every* bar on my list - Waterfront Ale House, Cherry Tree, Pacific Standard and 4th Ave. Pub was visited during the same time slot. (Because 3 of them are virtually next to each other it's easy to move from one to the other within 2 minutes.)
I'm not saying 4th Ave. Pub is a bad bar - only that it's far too noisy for me. I also mentioned that a number of Yelp posters felt the same way. More of them agreed with you that the place was wonderful.
As for the music, it was definitely rap on the night I went. I can't say what the music was on my 2nd visit - I only know that even if it was music I loved I'd still think it was too loud. As for the crowd, I've found that if the music is really loud the crowd tends to talk louder to be heard. At around 10:00 on a Friday night both the sound system and the people were cranking away at top volume.
Maybe I'll go back when the back garden is open. The beer selection looked good.