5/07/2013 12:52:00 PM

Inside Brooklyn's Craft Beer Boom

Tørst, Greenpoint
Over the last five years, the hype around craft beer has grown into a society of geeked-out connoisseurs who flock to rare beer tastings, trade homebrew like baseball cards, and sniff, twirl and taste beer like it’s fine wine. For the new beer snob, what better place to wallow amongst your peers than in an area where unique hobbies abound? That place, of course, is Brooklyn.

“With tons of people obsessing about what’s happening in food, Brooklyn, as a creative center, is a natural progression,” said Justin Philips who owns, along with his wife Tricia, Beer Table in Park Slope (currently relocating). “Drinks, not even just beers specifically, are a part of that.”


A pioneer of the craft beer scene in Brooklyn is the decades-old Mugs Ale House in Williamsburg, which later was followed by other exceptional beer bars in the area like Barcade and Joe Carroll’s Spuyten Duyvil.

“Craft beer has been on fire over the last five to six years and it’s become an affordable luxury,” said Joshua Bernstein, author of the beer guide Brewed Awakening and a Brooklyn resident. “Brooklyn attracts a younger crowd, and it’s easier to get someone to pony up for a $7 pint than a $14 cocktail.”

On average, most glasses of good beer run $7 or $8, like at the newly opened Tørst, a craft beer bar in Greenpoint that chef Daniel Burns started with consultant Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø from Denmark’s acclaimed Evil Twin Brewery. Here, not only do they offer an expertly curated list of beers you can’t find anywhere else in the city, but they also have a technique that trumps all other draft systems. Enter the “flux capacitor,” a tool designed by Gabe Gordon that helps regulate the perfect pour for each of the 21 suds on tap.

While they don’t have the same technology, quality brews can be found at plenty of other craft beer bars in the borough including sister bars Owl Farm and Mission Dolores in Park Slope, Lucky Dog, Fourth Avenue Pub, Banter and the newly opened honky-tonk-themed Skinny Dennis in Williamsburg. All these joints offer superb rotating draft lists, which arguably is what brings many beverage seekers to their well-worn seats night after night.

Aside from bars, brew shops have blossomed as well, including the aforementioned Beer Table, Breukelen Bier Merchants, Brouwerij Lane and One Stop Beer Shop. Bernstein touted Bierkraft as the most important recent game-changer in the beer scene, as they started the take-home growler system that really brought craft beer into the home of consumers. 

“They led the way with how Brooklyn sees beer,” said Bernstein. Of course, another aspect of Brooklyn is the do-it-yourself attitude that has been so prevalent for years, and yes, that translates into the beer world. Today, you can purchase everything you need to make your own craft beer at home at places like Brooklyn Kitchen, Brooklyn Brew Shop and Brooklyn Homebrew. It costs around $1 to make a bottle of good beer when you do it at home; cans of PBR might loose their place as the king of Brooklyn beer and be replaced with a more refined, yet egalitarian beverage. 

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