If this bar had a theme song, it would be The Doors’ inimitable anthem to the odd “People are Strange.” Beer Street at 413 Graham Avenue embraces the bizarre. Their ever present sidewalk sign reminds me as I walk home from the L to “drink weird beer.” It was no accident that they were twice selected as one of the top 100 craft beer bars in the country. The narrow, intimate bar’s tastefully simple white-washed brick walls contain an atmosphere gentle and welcoming in a way that New York bars often lack. Décor aside, the best part is that this expertly curated beer bar operates without a hint of pretension. The bartenders will happily advise, educate, and guide a neophyte but never condescend. This is a different, elevated kind of service than other craft beer spots are offering and you can enjoy it without the fuss of other places (because that’s just not how we do things on Graham!).
Beer Street first opened as a bottle shop but made a handsome transition into a bar with the help of Cory Bonfiglio, an icon in the New York beer scene. Bartender Ian Ljungqvist was happy to chat with me about his experience working here, his enthusiasm and passion for great beer shining through with every word. When asked which of the beers on the current menu he is most excited about, he was actually unable to answer–not out of any kind of flippancy or indecision but instead because they are all exciting. As Ian said, these are beers he is “proud to serve and proud to drink.” We ended up in a conversation about how exciting the craft beer scene is in New York right now. We used to be no more than a small blip on the beer nerd’s radar, falling short of places like San Diego, Denver, and Portland, but we are fortunate to be living in the middle of a renaissance. Today, New York is a beer tourism destination and “we are crushing it now.”
My favorite pour this week is our very own Greenpoint Beer & Ale’s blueberry lime sour, one of only two kegs sold outside the North 15th Street brewery. Disclaimer: I am kind of obsessed with sour beers right now. There are so many interesting ones being brewed here in our own concrete backyard, and this one’s no exception. This particular selection was made with an elegant restraint; subtlety sour and offering a hint of blueberry without making that the focus. Honestly, though, every beer I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting at Beer Street has been a conversation piece. They are selected with great care from people who know their beer and have soft spot for all things local. As an added bonus, they also regularly carry hard-to-find craft ciders and sell their beer by the growler.
The bartenders at Beer Street are not casual employees. They are here because they really dig beer and are passionate enough about it to educate themselves to expert status. You are guaranteed an engaging conversation with your bartender at Beer Street. I encourage you to take the time to soak in that knowledge and, if you’re not a beer geek already, see what it’s all about. The offerings change constantly so you are sure to have another strange and interesting brew to discuss. We are in the midst of a craft beer revolution here—don’t get left behind!
Beer Street is located at 413 Graham Avenue, at Withers Street. They are open Monday to Thursday, 5pm-1am; Friday, 5pm-2am; and Saturday and Sunday, 12pm-2am.