Start spreading the brews: Cosmopolitan Manhattan, mostly known for its Cosmopolitans and Manhattans, is getting beerier by the New York minute. Rents are (of course) astronomical, so most NYC-area breweries opt for space in other boroughs (think: Brooklyn and Queens), but that hasn’t stopped a handful of new breweries from opening—with at least six more on the horizon. (Adds Paul Leone, executive director of the New York State Brewers Association, “I’m sure there are many more in planning that we don’t know about yet.”) The city’s not just making beer; it’s embracing it: A new crop of hallway-sized bottle shops, beer bars and beer-minded restaurants means from the Upper East to the Lower West, hipsters and hedge fund managers alike have good brew within walking distance.
Alphabet City Beer Co.
The growlers-to-go are great, but the massive communal table and deep leather couches beg you to stay at this half-shop, half-bar in its namesake neighborhood. The offerings are always local-heavy and wonderfully affordable—like the $7 pint of Finback Pumpkin IPA, straight outta Queens.
Blind Tiger Ale House
The beer board at this West Village’s veteran beer pub constantly rotates familiar and rare pours on 28 drafts, two hand pumps and one gravity tap. The annual VSK (Very Special Keg) Festival in November corrals the most sought-after labels on the planet, like Cantillon and Firestone Walker Parabola.
Paulaner Bräuhaus & Restaurant
This warm, wood-clad beer hall on the Lower East Side transports you straight to Germany via big brew vats, biergarten tables and suds straight from the tanks, unfiltered and unpasteurized. All the brews adhere to German purity regulations, and the food benefits: Order the outstanding pork knuckle braised in lager and red wine.
The Pony Bar
Beer-barrel tables at both the Hell’s Kitchen and Upper East Side locations make this place rustic; the electronic screens, with scrolling neon lists of coast-to-coast craft like Hopalotamus Double IPA from Jersey and Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout from Cali, keep it on the cutting edge. You can sample before buying, and each new keg is announced with a giant boxing bell.
Cannibal Beer & Butcher
Think bikes, beer and beef: This Midtown home of the artisan and the artistic sells cycling gear, nose-to-tail cuts of meat and brews sourced by an in-house beer sommelier. Take a steak and six-pack to go, or stay: There’s a butcher counter and bar slicing up charcuterie and pig heads, and a back garden perfect for an Ayinger Jahrhundert chased by a shot of Diplomatico rum.
Upright Brew House
Duck into this narrow, exposed-brick West Village bar for morning lattes and drip coffee; come afternoon, get your beer buzz courtesy of 12 taps and nearly 100 cans and bottles—all craft. Watch for pours from New Yorkers Keegan Ales and Other Half Brewery, and fill up with the fully loaded burger; it’s one of the best in town.
Jimmy’s No. 43
Cozy and convivial, this East Village beer joint’s legendary for atmosphere, with low, brick ceilings that date to the 1880s and catacomb-style rooms, for sipping dark German traditionals, brand-new brews from upstate’s Rushing Duck, and ciders from Spain, France and Vermont. Go hungry: The menu of elevated comfort classics spans buttermilk biscuits to bread pudding.
The Ginger Man
A veritable clubhouse for beer geeks local and passing through, Ginger Man in Midtown is a textbook tavern (think beer posters and high-backed wooden booths), but with better beer. Seventy taps, nearly 200 bottles and two casks pour the globe’s finest; grab a Wandering Star Catcher in the Rye to wash down the famous half-pound Pastrami Reuben, laden with whiskey barrel sauerkraut.
Take in the view at the top of the Empire State Building, then soak up the beer at this 450-seat brewery-restaurant on the ground floor (one of five NYC locations). Feast on steak and bison burgers, and sample the Brooklyn-made brews; watch for Not Tonight Honey Porter, brewmaster Kelly Taylor’s homebrew recipe that’s just been upgraded to the brewhouse.
Ten stools, a plastic-letter menu board for hipster style and framed postcards round out an East Village scene where Leelanau’s Petoskey Pale Ale, a French oak aged grand cru from Michigan, might appear next to Belgian-style fruit ale from Grimm Artisanal Ales out of Brooklyn.
Brand-new to the East Village, this industrial-styled spot is the baby of a team of beverage experts that includes Greg Boehm, who runs the barware site Cocktail Kingdom, and Erick Castro, the mixologist behind San Diego’s Polite Provisions. The menu centers on reimagined Boilermaker shot-and-beer combos like the Dark & Bitter—that’s a Victory Storm King Stout and a shot of Ramazotti Amaro liqueur. Twelve rotating draft beers, four tap cocktails and two punches by the pitcher round off the menu.
Quirky collaborations abound at this trendy, sleek Greenwich Village spot. Brewer Chris Cuzme once made a Coffee & Donut Stout (a Brooklyn Brew Shop collab) with Brooklyn Roasting Co. beans and dried coconut flakes; another time, he put toasted buns in the mash and a smoked cheeseburger into the malt to make his applewood-smoked amber ale Bacon Cheesebrüger. Go Mondays for the pairing special: three drafts and three appetizers for $39.
Top Hops Beer Shop
This narrow, whitewashed brick-clad, Lower East Side bar’s humming beer fridges and more than 700 bottles lining shelves to the ceiling solidify this spot as beer-forward. The linchpin, though, is Top Hops’ staff; it’s smart and willing to share, hosting beer classes and tasting events throughout the year.
High above Eataly, Mario Batali’s seven-restaurant Italian food megaplex, is this rooftop cask-ale brewery from beer’s most famous fratelli: Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head), Teo Musso (Baladin) and Leonardo Di Vincenzo (Birra Del Borgo). A thyme pale ale, a peppercorn wit and an IPA actually made with pasta are brewed on site, though the bottle list beckons with Dogfish gems and Italian rarities from Toccalmatto, Montegioco and beyond. A short but meaty food menu keeps your focus tuned to the brew.
CHEESE, PLEASE!: Even highfalutin New Yorkers appreciate the delicious dynamic of beer and cheese. The original Murray’s Cheese Shop in Greenwich Village has been slicing exotic cheese since 1940; tour the subterranean cheese “caves” and take a beer-pairing class, or kick back at its Cheese Bar with nibbles and craft pints. Up in East Harlem, Earl’s Beer & Cheese, a tiny, tin-tiled tavern, shills only draft craft and sinful iterations of cheese—think sliced, grilled and macaroni’ed. On the Lower East Side, the little brick Malt and Mold’s walls are lined with bottles, while the taps (and growlers) give you another reason to grab ’n’ go. Here’s a reason to stay: Free beer and cheese tastings on Thursdays.
BEFORE YOU POUR: Read the latest posts on BrewYorkNewYork.com, a blog penned by local homebrewer Chris O’Leary. In addition to his veritable library of every brew made in the five boroughs, O’Leary’s known to break news on everything from new brewery openings to early releases to the city’s coolest beer events.