Last week, Jimmy Carbone, one of New York City’s most vociferous craft beer advocates, ushered in this year’s class of Good Beer Seal award-winners in a brief ceremony held in the cavernous back room of his East Village pub, Jimmy’s no. 43. The sudsy celebration marked the end to the Good Beer Seal’s jam-packed and overwhelmingly successful July Good Beer Month, the yearly 30-day period devoted to all things craft beer evangelism, and recognizes the hardworking folks behind some of New York’s most beloved neighborhood bars.
Now in its seventh year, the Good Bear Seal, according to its website, “endeavors to separate the wheat from the chaff by identifying bars that serve quality craft beer and demonstrate a commitment to the community in which they do business.” And they mean it–to receive the iconic maroon Good Beer Seal sticker, bars must prove their commitment to the craft exceeds simply serving great craft beer. They are, according to Carbone, the evening’s emcee, going the extra mile in every aspect. “They’re hosting beer dinners and tastings, they’re working closely with local brewers,” Carbone shouted from the stage, flanked by some of the craft beer industry’s most recognizable faces like KelSo brewmaster Kelly Taylor, legendary bar owner Patrick Donagher (The Jeffrey, Fools Gold, Alewife) and Cuzett Libations’s Chris Cuzme, signature saxophone and all. “These guys really give a shit about what’s happening, the whole process, and they care about being involved in the community.”
Upon their induction, the nine honored bars were handed over a pamphlet of membership material, including their own copy of the adorable, deep red Good Beer Seal sticker seen affixed to reputable beer bars throughout the five boroughs. Wander through the newly marked doors of one of these Good Beer Seal bars and you can rest assured that your beer will be served through spickety span lines by educated tapsters devoted to ensuring that the future of New York City craft beer never strays too far from its artisan roots.
Covenhoven (730 Classon Avenue, Crown Heights)
“We live above the shop, so we always love having our friends and neighbors over or popping downstairs to have a beer before dinner,” said Covenhoven co-owner Bill Pace gleefully, who was on hand to greet his fans and accept his award. The Mom-and-Pop Crown Heights bottleshop and taproom has been charming locals with one of the city’s best beer selections (as well as boatloads of familial love) since opening in early 2014.
Glorietta Baldy (502 Franklin Avenue, Bed-Stuy)
Accomplished homebrewer and Glorietta regular Robert Sherrill accepted the award on behalf of this Wiley brothers’ Bed-Stuy game-changer. The dimly lit two-year-old neighborhood joint has garnered a dedicated following so far, attracting both area beer geeks and novices alike with its ever-changing twelve tap lineup and seasonal menu of expertly mixed cocktails.
Hops Hill (886 Fulton Street, Clinton Hill)
Cozy Brooklyn taproom Hops Hill holds the esteemed title of being the only Good Beer Seal bar in all of Clinton Hill, a proud claim for its pioneering owner, Joe Najem. The small corner shop boasts a diverse menu of local craft favorites as well as handpicked imports and an impressive bottle list.
Beer Street (413 Graham Avenue, Williamsburg)
With its storied history of hosting top tier beer events, gorgeous growler system and extensive tap list, Williamsburg’s Beer Street is truly operating at the very top of its game, making it a perfect Good Beer Seal inductee. “We get to talk to people from all over the world about great beer,” said Beer Street GM Cory Bonfiglio, proudly holding up his Good Beer Seal sticker for the room to admire. “There’s so many great bars on this list already, and we’re just so happy to be another cog in the wheel.”
Fools Gold (145 East Houston Street, Lower East Side) & The Jeffrey (311 East 60th Street, Upper East Side)
“I’m just lucky to call myself a business partner to one the best craft beer evangelists in the city,” proclaimed co-owner Andy Freedman, raising a pint to his buddy Patrick Donagher, who crouched at the corner of the stage, gripping the pair’s shiny new Good Beer Sticker. Fools Gold and The Jeffrey follow Alewife (the fellas’ first bar) as leading examples in the great-beer-meets-great-food restaurant scene, each putting forth stunning tap lists set in harmony to inventive and well executed pub fare. “It’s about the love affair we have with beer,” added Donagher.”It’s about the 100 hours a week we put in at the shop, it’s about keeping the lines clean and pouring good beer, and, at the end of the day, it’s about teaching someone about a beer they never had before.” Preach, sir.
Top Hops (94 Orchard Street, Lower East Side)
Top Hops is a welcome, sunny oasis for thirsty Lower East Siders desperate for a cold beer, a salty pretzel and a friendly bartender. The front room is dominated by a wide, curving bar outfitted with a number of rotating taps, while the back is lined with coolers brimming with regionally-organized bottles and a slew of beer-themed merchandise like books, posters and even Brooklyn Brew Shop homebrew kits. Come in for a pint, and leave with the tools to make your own.
The Bronx Beer Hall; (2344 Arthur Avenue, The Bronx)
The Bronx Beer Hall is killing it up north these days, introducing the borough’s Little Italy to the wonders of craft beer through five lines of predominantly local suds, a full menu of tasty snacks and a fun, welcoming vibe that makes up the core of the small outpost’s mission.
BBD’s (49 NY State Route 49A, Rocky Point, Long Island)
Heading to the North Fork for a weekend away? You’ve got a guaranteed great grub stop in BBD’s, the Rocky Point restaurant and bar owned and operated by renowned chef Ralph Perrazzo. “We get a lot of press about our food, but the beer program is really close to my heart,” said Chef Perrazzo, admiring his new Good Beer Seal sticker. “Like I told Jimmy earlier, to me, this is better than a James Beard Award.”