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Beer Bars (NYC Chapter)


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The Double Windsor is located in Windsor Terrace, adjacent to Park Slope but worlds apart. The Terrace is grittier – there are way fewer posers but that comes at a price. In a one block radius I passed a beggar asking for loose change and a fat toothless man riding a Jazzy. The bar itself is located diagonally across the street from Farrell’s, the notorious hell pit famous for serving Budweiser in Styrofoam cups and it’s frequent fights. (The two are not unrelated.)

 

But I don’t hold Farrell’s against Windsor Terrace. It’s really a fine and safe place. A nice antidote to the preciousness of Park Slope.

 

Ambiance

The DW struck me as a cross between a British pub and a California style bar. A generous U-shaped bar was flanked by long tables on two sides. There’s a wide planked floor, the walls are exposed brick, and the French doors along two of the walls looked like they could be opened up as the weather got warmer. As it was the late March weather was unseasonably pleasant and the front doors were opened wide. There was a plant behind the bar near the cash register. That’s California for you.

 

There was a single TV tuned to a black and white movie on Turner Classics. The implied message was “This Ain’t No Sports Bar.”

 

Staff

The two bartenders were young and efficient and I had no problem getting drinks when I wanted them.

 

The Crowd

On the Friday I was there the crowd was in their 20s and 30s; I had the feeling they were mainly locals. Nice people. There was plenty of noise but no shouting.

 

Soundtrack

Rolling Stones, the Pogues. The Zombies. The Yardbirds. The Kinks. Did I mention this place had the vibe of a British pub? I swear I figured that out before I heard the music.

 

Wilfrid has this theory that rock and roll hasn’t advanced over the last 30 years. The fact that a room full of people in their 20s was happily listening to this stuff makes me think he’s right.

 

The Beers

There were 13 craft beers on tap along with one tap for Guinness. Why waste one? It’s not hard to get a pint of Guinness at most bars around the city. But I’m quibbling.

 

There was a printed beer list with short descriptions of each beer. I see more and more places doing this rather than simply listing the beers on a hard to read chalk board. I like this trend – it helps to figure out what you want when confronted with 7 or 8 new beers.

 

I started with a Wolaver’s IPA from Vermont. This was medium in complexity and not wildly overhopped. Pleasant enough but I would probably pick something else if I was going to have a few.

 

Next was a Racer 5 from Bear Republic. On the list it was billed as “a floral and aromatic English style ale” and while there was a bit of truth in that I thought it read better than it tasted. Too much floral and not enough English enough to suit me.

 

To be fair, I liked what I had just fine and considering that were 11 other beers on tap I easily could have found more appealing choices if I’d kept at it.

 

Extra Points

The Double Windsor serves food. Although the menu isn’t on line what I saw seemed appealing in a pub food type of way. A sign advertised “house made beef jerky,” a reminder that I was in Brooklyn where artisanal charcuterie is the order of the day.

 

I’ll bet this place would be perfect for a pint or three on a leisurely summer Sunday afternoon. I wonder if I could persuade them to turn on a baseball game if we kept the sound off.

 

 

The Double Windsor

210 Prospect Park W

(between Bartel Pritchard Sq & 16th St)

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Draft Barn

I wanted to like this place. They certainly mean well and I really believe that the owner wants to preside over a first rate beer bar. Some people might like it very much just as it is. I think you’ll have to make up your own mind.

 

Draft Barn is located on 3rd Ave. between 12th and 13th streets in an area that’s either western Park Slope or eastern Gowanus. Until they clean up the canal I suggest they go with Park Slope.

 

This is not a neighborhood that generates a lot of foot traffic. The surrounding area is largely industrial but on the other hand that might change as those big apartment buildings continue to go up on 4th Ave. What looks like an oddball location right now might well look like a stroke of genius 5 years from now. In the meantime it’s a place for pioneers.

 

The owner is from Hungary and his staff is European. The bottled beers skew to European choices.

 

Ambiance

Inside it was a bit bright brighter than your average bar but not unpleasantly so. There are a number of small long tables just right for groups engaged in long tasting sessions. Against the wall are cozier booths for more intimate boozing.

 

The bar itself is decently sized but not overly large. I’m guessing it could seat 30 comfortably but it’s certainly smaller than you’d expect in a room that size. (If you’ve been to Radegast Hall in Williamsburg the room is comparable but the bar at Draft Barn is half the size.)

 

Staff

The single bartender was efficient. It probably helped that there were only 3 of us at the bar.

 

The Crowd

There were about 20 people there at about 10:00PM on a Friday night. The average age was about 30, equally mixed between male and female and dedicated beer drinkers one and all. They were a well behaved group, always a good thing when alcohol is being served.

 

Soundtrack

Heavy metal, lots of heavy metal. Then for a change, more heavy metal. All instrumentals. It’s the type of fast anonymous guitar music that’s used as a soundtrack for TV shows featuring muscle cars racing through the desert. Now for some people this would add energy and excitement to the room but I felt differently.

 

On the positive side the volume wasn’t overly loud – conversation at normal levels was possible. But you also had a hard time not hearing the music.

 

I had the strong impression that the well meaning owner/manager (who was in attendance) loves this stuff. Hey, it’s his place, he gets to play what he wants, but he may want to poll his customers from time to time to see if they like it as much as him.

 

The Beers

They have over 250 varieties of bottled beers on hand – you can’t help but be impressed. They were listed in a multi page book that I first took to be a food menu. On the downside, I would have liked a short description of the flavor profile of each one (“intensely hoppy with floral overtones, clean finish”) since I was unfamiliar with the vast majority of them.

 

There were around 12 drafts on tap as well. Unfortunately, there was no printed beer list. In fact, there wasn’t even a chalk board. I asked what they had available and the bartender began to explain them to me. He was nice about it but the process is a bit awkward – it was like going to a restaurant where the waiter recites a list of 15 specials that each require an explanation. Stuff like that ought to be written down. I also wonder how time consuming this system would be if the bar was crowded.

 

After he got to the 4th option, Dogfish Head 120 IPA, I stopped him and said I’d have that one. I’ve had plenty of beers from this brewery and I love IPAs. What could go wrong? Plenty.

 

This is what is known as an extreme beer – here’s Dogfish’s description from their website.

 

What that meant in this case is that I was served an almost pint of black syrupy brew, cloyingly sweet with overtones of caramel and flowers, and highly alcoholic. I say almost pint because the glass was 90% full. (It had virtually no head.) The price was $12.

 

After I took my first sip I realized that I had made a major mistake but there was no question of trying to send it back. I had ordered it so I drank it. It took awhile since I had to pause 2 minutes between sips. During the pauses I had a chance to savor the heavy metal music coming over the speakers.

 

In hindsight the bartender probably should have warned me about the unusual flavor profile of the DH 120. Or he could have poured me a small sample to see if I liked it. And it also would have been nice if he had mentioned that it cost twice as much as a standard craft brew. (Remember, there was no price list.)

 

Oh well. I’ll accept most of the responsibility here but if they had a printed beer list with short descriptions and prices I could have avoided making that mistake.

 

(I’ll play devil’s advocate and say that only a place that truly cares about beer would stock DH 120. I give them credit for that.)

 

My second beer was a Brooklyn Black Stout. After the DH 120 it tasted like Aquafina Flavorsplash. I’m not really a stout drinker but I liked this one. It too had a slightly sweet finish (this time around the bartender warned me) but it was very drinkable.

 

As I said, there were 10 other beers on draft and if I had the patience to walk the bartender through the various descriptions and asked for samples I have no doubt I could have found some really good beers. I like the owner’s dedication and I’m going to come back for a rematch.

 

Extra Points

They’ve got an extensive menu of pub food and central European specialties. I’ve got a real soft spot for this type of food and on my next visit I’ll give it a try.

 

 

Draft Barn

530 3rd Ave (Between 12th & 13th St)

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You wouldve been completely within your rights had you sent that $12 beer back, I'm really shocked that the bartender didn't warn you about the price or taste.

 

And thanks for the Double Windsor write-up, it is just a hop-skip from me.

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I wonder how you scored it at the Pink Pig Blind Beer Tasting? :rolleyes:

 

The first thing I noticed pouring the Dogfish Head 120 was its opacity. It's a muddy, cloudy, viscous, toffee-colored liquid. The flavor, though, was a revelation. Perhaps because of a high sugar content, the outrageous IBU score did not translate into overwhelming bitterness on the palate. "Way too sweet" said someone; one accurate description was "apricot and alcohol." It was almost like "a dessert wine." It did quite well in the voting: the consensus seemed to be that it was certainly interesting, although a little would go a long way.

 

I think appreciation of the beer was aided by the tasting-size pour: I can't imagine drinking a pint of the stuff.

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And thanks for the Double Windsor write-up, it is just a hop-skip from me.

You are going to love it. And it's within a block or so of the Prospect Park F train stop. Just wait until they open those windows.

 

ETA - I'm a big believer in taking responsibility for what you order. The bartender should have warned me about the price and extreme nature of the beer but ultimately I'm at fault. I should have asked.

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I had a draft Dogfish 120 IPA at Draft Barn once and I thought it was like the holy grail.

 

I'm not a very subtle beerdrinker.

 

It's a good thing you didn't brave the food.

IMO American Beer has the same issues as American Wine, and increasingly American food. As a people we don't place a lot of value on finesse

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I wonder how you scored it at the Pink Pig Blind Beer Tasting? :rolleyes:

 

The first thing I noticed pouring the Dogfish Head 120 was its opacity. It's a muddy, cloudy, viscous, toffee-colored liquid. The flavor, though, was a revelation. Perhaps because of a high sugar content, the outrageous IBU score did not translate into overwhelming bitterness on the palate. "Way too sweet" said someone; one accurate description was "apricot and alcohol." It was almost like "a dessert wine." It did quite well in the voting: the consensus seemed to be that it was certainly interesting, although a little would go a long way.

 

I think appreciation of the beer was aided by the tasting-size pour: I can't imagine drinking a pint of the stuff.

Appreciation. :lol:

 

Imagine mixing molasses and water in a 2 to 1 ratio. Then dump in a cup of sugar and some apples and oranges. Stir. Voila! You too can make your own DFH 120. (The 120 stands for the number of seconds that have to elapse before you can manage to take another sip.)

 

At your beer tasting there was very little love for this brew. I wasn't alone by a long shot.

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I had a draft Dogfish 120 IPA at Draft Barn once and I thought it was like the holy grail.

 

I'm not a very subtle beerdrinker.

 

It's a good thing you didn't brave the food.

IMO American Beer has the same issues as American Wine, and increasingly American food. As a people we don't place a lot of value on finesse

This "extreme" meme has gone two far. Take a meatloaf recipe that calls for 2 cloves of garlic per pound of meat. Bump the garlic up to 20 cloves. Zowie! Extreme meatloaf!

 

Sorry, but all these "extreme" concoctions are, by definition, unbalanced. It's as if the brewers who dream this stuff up are all 17 year old kids trying to show how radical they are.

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I had a draft Dogfish 120 IPA at Draft Barn once and I thought it was like the holy grail.

 

I'm not a very subtle beerdrinker.

 

It's a good thing you didn't brave the food.

IMO American Beer has the same issues as American Wine, and increasingly American food. As a people we don't place a lot of value on finesse

This "extreme" meme has gone two far. Take a meatloaf recipe that calls for 2 cloves of garlic per pound of meat. Bump the garlic up to 20 cloves. Zowie! Extreme meatloaf!

 

Sorry, but all these "extreme" concoctions are, by definition, unbalanced. It's as if the brewers who dream this stuff up are all 17 year old kids trying to show how radical they are.

but they 27 or 37 year olds trying to show how XTREEM they are

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I had a draft Dogfish 120 IPA at Draft Barn once and I thought it was like the holy grail.

 

I'm not a very subtle beerdrinker.

 

It's a good thing you didn't brave the food.

IMO American Beer has the same issues as American Wine, and increasingly American food. As a people we don't place a lot of value on finesse

This "extreme" meme has gone two far. Take a meatloaf recipe that calls for 2 cloves of garlic per pound of meat. Bump the garlic up to 20 cloves. Zowie! Extreme meatloaf!

 

Sorry, but all these "extreme" concoctions are, by definition, unbalanced. It's as if the brewers who dream this stuff up are all 17 year old kids trying to show how radical they are.

I think it's crept across the Atlantic too. I've had a few of unpleasantly bitter beers in the UK recently. Brewers are so desperate to prove that they're not making Watney's Red Barrel that their beer tastes like battery acid.

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This has me scratching my head. On the one hand I think there may be some validity to the 'money is money no matter its form' argument, on the other I think the patron acted like a clueless dick. Who in their right mind tries to pay for a $3 draft with a dollar bill and a fistful of change? Does he have a piggy bank he uses to save up for his beer money?? And I'll admit to bias since some of my favorite people happen to be bartenders and the tales they have shared of idiotic asshole customers and various outlandish behavior(s) are astounding.
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I noticed that article yesterday. I like Sheffield's work very much but I think he's got this one wrong. Quarters are one thing but to pay in dimes seems perverse.

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