Brooklyn Beer Bar Guide: The Exley

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Photos by Brooke Goldman

There are some bars that you want to leave your own little secret, for as long as you possibly can, places that you only tell a few people about, just to keep the magic alive. The Exley is that place, but it’s also too wonderful not to share. Tucked away in the shadow of the BQE, this bar is the perfect place for an after-work drink, a beer and a book or a second date. If you find yourself roped into an evening that involves Union Pool, do yourself a favor and cross under the BQE to this haven of normalcy.

Number of Taps: The tap list is small, but it rotates frequently, and features only craft beers, which is pleasant. I enjoyed a Ithaca Ground Break, the last time I was there, which is a complex and refreshens saison.

Number of Bottles: They have 7 reserve beers, including the Estrella Galicia, 3 ciders and 5 beers in the can including the Founders All Dy IPA, which we still really, really like, despite its ubiquity.

Vibes: Chill. This bar could not be more chill. Even when it’s super crowded and full of people clamoring for drinks while watching the World Cup, there’s no pushing, no shoving, no rudeness. It’s like people step across the threshold and summon whatever inner chill they have, and keep it up for the entire time they’re in there. It’s a miracle!

Chill. So. Very. Chill.

Music: It’s mostly bartenders choice, barring the nights when there are DJs — usually Friday and Saturdays. When I was there, I heard Rage Against the Machine and Flogging Molly, which are not my top choices for what I want to hear in a bar, but were played at a level that was not ear-splitting or horrible, so I let it go.

Price: Not exorbitant. There are some reserve beers that are a bit pricier, but that’s why you pay for fancy, big bottles. A beer on tap will run you $6-$7. The happy hour goes until 7pm, and each beer is a dollar off.

Seating: For a space this small, there’s actually a fair amount of seats available. There’s the bar itself and a few corner booths, but the best seat in the house is at the U-shaped wooden bar up against the picture windows that open out onto the street. Take a book, grab a beer and park yourself in front of the windows, which give you a nice view of the BQE exit ramp, which is more pleasant that this description would lead you to believe.

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Typical Crowd: The crowd is mostly regulars, but the Ex is just far enough off the beaten path that it doesn’t attract the same kind of crowd that other bars of its ilk would.

Outdoor Space: There’s a little space right outside the windows with a bench. If you want to smoke a cigarette or just get some air, stand out there, and talk to your friends through the picture windows, which they leave open during nice days.

Food: If you get peckish, they have excellent burritos from Stan’s Cafecito, which the nice bartender will heat up for you on the grill behind the counter and bring it out to you, if they’re not too busy.

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