When it opened in 1987, Brooklyn Brewery (79 North 11th Street) was well ahead of the craft brew curve. Today, after having opened their own tasting room amid the hustle and bustle of the ever-expanding area of Williamsburg, they now stand as one of the largest local beer producers in the New York metropolitan area. Bigger has always meant bigger in the Big Apple and so it stands to reason that craft beer, priding itself on skillful, limited distribution, might not be the drink of choice among these crowded streets. The full flavors and diversity of styles promoted by the brewers helped the scene gain significant traction to the point where Brooklyn now stands as one of the premiere craft brewing destinations in the country.
The atmospheric rise in popularity is evidenced by the throngs of suds enthusiasts that pack their tasting room throughout the weekend. Open from 6-11PM on Fridays, and from 12-8PM on Saturdays, Brooklynites line up around the block in order to get their hands on the sometimes-rare selections that are on tap here. Their Brooklyn Blast IPA, for example, boasts an intimidating ABV of 9% and is difficult to find even at local bars. The somewhat less potent, yet equally flavorful, East India Pale Ale is a floral delight, with a smooth, medium body that goes down easy. You can also enjoy bottles like their Belgian-styled Local 1 and Local 2 Ales, or—my personal favorite—the Black Chocolate Stout. It has the robust tones of roasted malt and dark coffee and will have you feeling its effects in no time thanks to a double digit ABV.
The large tasting room has a communal feel and you’re encouraged to bring in food from some of the tasty trucks that line up outside along North 11th Street. Call ahead to reserve a tour, although be advised that only a small percentage of the beer they produce is brewed at this location. All in all, any trip to Brooklyn Brewery will provide a fun-filled weekend afternoon to any group of people appreciative of fine fermented flavors.