New York City Beer Tour: A Local's Perspective
Explore the craft beer scene in NYC with
Thank you to Urban Adventures for sponsoring my tour. And special thanks to Jenny, Mary Hannah, and all the businesses below.
All opinions are my own. Tour stops are subject to change.
Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a noob when it comes to beer, both with drinking and education. I got my first taste of actual enjoyable beer when I was a hostess for 5 minutes at a Belgian beer restaurant in NYC (side note: I literally was never a hostess cause they took so long to build the place!).
In my time living in NYC, I never really explored the beer culture that much at all. Granted, I've been drinking it more lately since dating my boyfriend and hanging with his beer-loving friends. Shoutout to Bondurants in the UES for having awesome beer, whiskey, and the most incredible tater tots. So I figured why not mix up my love of food tours and educate myself a little more on beer? aka so I know how to order at a craft beer bar.
My other criteria for any type of tour is that it needs to be very much rooted in a local experience. If you know me, I like off-the-beaten path experiences. I like learning the history of places, like if it has mob origins (I'm looking at you Dante!).
Related reading // Lisbon Food Tour
Stop 1: Barcade
Barcade // 388 Union Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211
The beer tour started at Barcade, a really neat concept bar that brings out your inner child or nerd with various arcade games. Mary Hannah met us outside and gave us more info on the tour while we waited for Barcade to open at 12pm.
Once inside, we started our beer drinking! First up was a Victory Prima Pils from Pennsylvania. I don't have too much pilsner drinking experience, but I actually loved this beer. Mary Hannah ordered us all some epic NYC-style pizza that we munched on between rounds.
Mary Hannah taught us a tasting exercise for the day that had us look at the appearance of the beer, smell the aroma, think of the mouth feel (how it feels in your mouth), and use retronasal tasting. Retronasal tasting is when you drink the beer while breathing in with your mouth and then when you swallow, you exhale through your nose.
Our second round was an Other Half IPA from NYC. Full disclosure: I am not the biggest fan of IPAs just because the ones I've had are way too hoppy for my liking. BUT I actually really liked this IPA. It was a lot less hoppy than what I was expecting. The last beer we tried was the Sly Fox O'Reilly Stout from Pennsylvania.
If you're wondering if these tastings won't satiate your thirst, don't worry. It's quite enough beer for an afternoon! As a note, the beers on this tour changes from tour to tour based on the bar's offerings and specials at the time of the tour.
As a really awesome bonus, Mary Hannah gave us a few quarters each to play some of the arcade games! It's the perfect bar for a group hang or a casual date.
Stop 2: Spuyten Duyvil
Spuyten Duyvil // 359 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Spuyten Duyvil was my favorite stop of the beer tour. From the outside, you wouldn't even expect this to be a bar. It's completely nondescript, and looks like an antique store. Once you step inside, you'll notice how unique everything is from the tables to the bar stools to the decor. And in case you're wondering, Spuyten Duyvil translates to "devil's spout" in Dutch.
As soon as we arrived, we saw a table spread out with amazing cheese, meat, bread, and our beer selection for the day. Like Barcade, this selection changes depending on the day. We sampled a Von Trapp Bohemian Pilsner from Vermont, a Erdinger Urweisse from Germany, and an Off Color Eille Spiced Beer from Illinois.
This stop really felt like a casual hang that I welcomed a lot! An awesome thing to note about Spuyten Duyvil is that they have a huge backyard, which I'm sure gets packed when it's nice out. Spuyten Duyvil is definitely an impressive date spot or a great group hang.
Stop 3: Mugs Alehouse
Mugs Alehouse // 125 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
The third stop on our tour was Mugs Alehouse. Mugs Alehouse has been a fixture on the corner of Bedford and 10th Street in Williamsburg since 1992. It's well-known as a "working man's bar" and has been a huge proponent of the craft beer movement.
The story goes that Mugs Alehouse ran out of Coors Light one night and then began serving craft beer. The patrons were not pleased and were so mad that they chased the owner around the bar demanding Coors Light. The owner's wife saw this outrage and then decided to get rid of Bud Light too. They now don't serve these beers at all!
At Mugs Alehouse, we of course, had to drink a Brooklyn Lager from NYC. Other beers we tried were a Bronx Brewery Boom Boom White IPA from NYC, and an Industrial Arts Wrench IPA from New York State. We opted to sit outside in the bar's backyard. This bar is definitely a quieter hangout spot than other bars, but you definitely won't be bothered here since it's so casual!
Stop 4: Sugarburg
Sugarburg // 519 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Our last stop of the beer tour was Sugarburg. Compared to the other bars, Sugarburg was much more lively! A lot of patrons were working on laptops or just hanging with friends here. It was a really casual and fun vibe.
At this stop, we were able to pick a pint of any beer on the menu. I went for a KCBC Hipster Highway from Brooklyn since I really liked the name. It was nice and light, which was perfect after a whole afternoon of drinking.
After four hours (yes, four hours!) of walking around Williamsburg, learning more about craft beer, and drinking ALL the beers, it was time to say goodbye (and for a nap). I can't thank Mary Hannah enough for being such a wonderful tour guide and making everyone feel so welcome on this tour. She's a true beer lover and really knows her stuff!
If you want to take this exact tour that I went on, book your tickets ASAP! This tour will be morphing into a new Long Island City tour, the NYC Brewery Tour, which is launching in October. The new tour will explore three different breweries with a local beer expert. Along with learning how to identify different styles of beer, guests will get to know the brewers and taproom professionals behind the craft beer.
Tours will include beer from three different breweries with local pizza and will run Wednesday-Sunday from 6pm-9pm.