Ok, I’ll admit it: I’m a huge sports fan. There’s something undeniably mesmerizing about the piercing crack of a bat, the seismic boom of a final buzzer, the arcing spiral of a expertly thrown touch down pass. And its beauty–much like craft beer–lies in its simplicity. The ability for young superstars like Steph Curry and Clayton Kershaw to step in and change century-old games with a compelling mix of innovation and skill mirrors the craft beer industry’s emergence, when a few brave brewers combined four basic ingredients so perfectly that unassuming drinkers suddenly stepped back and remarked, “Damn, that’s amazing.”
Why, then, is it so difficult to find a Brooklyn bar that pays adequate homage to these harmonious cultural institutions? Why are sports bars synonymous with a crappy beer selection and craft beer bars associated with a distinct lack of back page chatter? Surely there must be exceptions to these rules, bars who dare to fuel the Buffalo sauce-soaked cheers of communal sports fandom with drafts pulled from a thoughtful and interesting beer list. But how to find them?
It wasn’t easy, but after hours of thankless searching, drinking and evaluating (and also drinking some more), I sussed out a definitive list of the 10 best craft beer-sports bar hybrids Brooklyn has to offer.
Kent Ale House (51 Kent Ave, Williamsburg)
Stumble into this Williamsburg staple in search of a local ballgame or an international soccer match and you’ll be met with great views, tasty beer and a lively crowd. With a dozen big screens, a rotating tap list of craft standbys like Green Flash, Oskar Blues and Bell’s and a menu of well executed pub food, Kent Ale House is a true champion.
Pacific Standard (82 4th Ave, Gowanus)
I hesitated to add Pacific Standard to this list, not because I don’t think it’s a great bar–I do, for the record–but because it focuses so precisely on West Coast college sports that it’s almost too myopic for a list as broadly celebratory as this one. Then I remembered watching last year’s Oakland A’s playoff games in the 4th Avenue pub’s large back room, and my heart swelled with affection. A solid beer list, friendly bartenders, a tiny menu of salty snacks (as well as It’s-Its for you nostalgic Cali folk!) and a penchant for ragtag, oft-losing teams makes Pacific Standard a winner in my book.
Uncle Barry’s (58 5th Ave, Park Slope)
What Uncle Barry’s lacks in TV quantity (there aren’t many), it makes up for with a stellar draft list, a heaping handful of delicious bar snacks, a fantastic trivia night and a full sports package that includes the elusive Big Ten network. It’s also relatively quiet during sporting events, so if you’re more of a calm, contemplative fan with a refined, beer-seeking palate, Uncle Barry’s is for you.
Pine Box Rock Shop (12 Grattan St, Bushwick)
Is Pine Box a sports bar? Definitely not, but this craft beer mecca does feature more sports-inclined televisions that almost any other spot in the neighborhood, not to mention an excellent draft list and a super knowledgeable staff. It’s always a great place to relax with a pint and a ballgame after filling your belly at Roberta’s down the way.
Mugs Alehouse (125 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg)
“Mugs is one of the last old neighborhood bars on Bedford,” notes bartender Hayley Karl. “Our regulars see us as the place they always know they can find their favorite New York craft beer on draft while they watch their favorite NY team on the screens.” Be it Mets or Yankees, Singlecut or Gunhill, Mugs is Williamsburg’s original craft beer-sports bar combo.
Greenwood Park (555 7th Ave, South Slope)
I like Greenwood Park for a few reasons. For starters, it’s big and airy, with a few full sized Bocce courts lining the front patio. It also has good wings, draft specials during big games, multiple flat screens, a long list of craft beers served by the pitcher (a rarity in these parts) and, while it can get fairly fratty on weekend nights, it’s just a block from my apartment. You can’t beat that.
4th Down (750 Grand St, East Williamsburg)
You know what’s cool? Sports bars with arcade games that make every drunk idiot feel like Lebron. At 4th Down there’s plenty of that, including Hoop Shot and Beer Pong Master, as well as a dozen or so craft favorites and the ability to show sixteen different games at once, making this East Williamsburg establishment the perfect college football destination. If you go in the fall, don’t forget to sport your best scarlet and gray, as this is prime Buckeye nation. O-H!
Black Swan (1048 Bedford Ave, Bed-Stuy)
An unlikely semi-traditional English pub set against a backdrop of hipster bars and KFCs, Black Swan features the some of best wings in Bed-Stuy, a handful of screens broadcasting everything from the Yanks to the Premiere League and a fully stocked list of local and international craft faire to keep you good and hydrated.
Pork Slope (247 5th Ave, Park Slope)
Celebrity chef Dale Talde is the man behind this unassuming stoner food haven stashed away in the heart of Park Slope, where one can saddle up to the long bar, order a cafeteria tray brimming with pulled pork nachos and wash it down with a cool craft pint, all while gazing at their favorite team on one of several hanging flatscreens. It’s one of my favorite places in the neighborhood to quietly take in a weeknight Mets game while drowning my losing team sorrows in saturated fats and high ABV brews. There’s always next year!
The Bridges (66 Water St, Dumbo)
It’s all about the grub at The Bridges, DUMBO’s go-to, flatscreen-lined gastropub. Come for the food, like a bowl of Cape Cod Icy Mussels resting in a spicy broth or a perfectly charred steak frites, and stay for a game on one of the many TVs hanging above the bar. The beer list isn’t phenomenal, but considering the neighborhood’s lack of sports bars, you’ll get by with a few refreshing Sixpoints or a crisp can of Founders All Day IPA.