Park Slope’s Seventh Avenue is downright bustling. All within a one-mile radius, you can find coffee shops, grocery stores, pizza places, bakeries, sit-down restaurants and take-out joints, and enough retail for a full weekend of therapy.
Until about six weeks ago, the only thing missing was a proper beer bar. For a cold pint outside a restaurant or dive bar (looking at you, American Cheez), you had to head over to the Slope’s Fifth Avenue, where plenty of bars are pouring pints, or off the main drag there’s Owl Farm on Ninth Street. Farther afield, there’s the great Bierwax on Vanderbilt.
And now there’s Brewer’s Row, located on Seventh Avenue between Third and Fourth Streets, a welcome addition to the neighborhood — not just because it’s a bar in an area with a dearth of such establishments but also because this is a serious beer place. Fortunately, the impressive beer selection is absent of any pretension.
Owners Taylor Hederman and Fred Avila, both Eataly alums, took over the space that used to house the hot chocolate-focused Cocoa Bar, and kept the living-room-away-from-your-actual-living-room ambiance.
To decorate the space, they “picked things that sort of reminded us of home,” says Hederman, who points to the freshly-painted smoky green walls, the color of his childhood bedroom. “We wanted to make [the space be] a living room extension for the local neighborhood. Everything is meant to feel very comfortable, very mild with a little bit of a European vibe to it.”
Courtesy Exsar Arguello
A nod to Brooklyn history
The inclusive, welcoming vibe elides the fact that Brewer’s Row is not, in fact, your average beer bar. The name plays a role in distinguishing the place’s ethos too, for Brewer’s Row pays homage to Brooklyn’s rich beer history. At the turn of the 20th century, there were only 45 breweries in the entire nation. Brooklyn, with its 11 breweries across 12 Williamsburg and Bushwick blocks, was considered one of the country’s most important brewing capitals.
Hederman, 34, and Avila, 40, briefly considered North Brooklyn for Brewer’s Row, but it wasn’t long before they settled on the Park Slope location. “We were absolutely in love with it,” says Hederman, who added that the 30- and 40-somethings (many with kids in tow) patronizing the bar are just the demographic they had in mind.
Access to the park helps too since Brewer’s Row sells craft beer, cider, hard seltzer, and nonalcoholic cocktails to go. (Purchase one to sip in house for an additional $4 corkage fee.)
The selection at Brewer’s Row is varied, though there’s a focus on local, which Avila says is not just New York State local but any beer brewed within about a 150-mile radius. The 20 taps cover a lot of ground, from local craft beers (Brooklyn’s own Talea was recently on draft) and ciders to a select few taps highlighting European offerings. They tapped a keg of Chimay Red recently, and once word got out, it did not last long. Likewise for their recent stash of Alchemist Brewery’s Heady Topper.
Depending on the brew, the beer comes in 5-, 10-, and 16-ounce pours, and tasting before committing is encouraged. Wine is also available — though not from a tap and not local either, a vestige of their “Eataly training,” says Avila.
Most of the cooler offerings can be purchased as singles, though there are four-packs to be bought and perhaps carried a couple of avenues over to Prospect Park on a warm, sunny day. But it’s worth noting that Brewer’s Row has coveted patio space, ample seating inside and out, and a stack of games including Jenga, Scattergories, and Connect 4.
For now, the only interesting thing to eat is a soft-baked Sigmund’s pretzel though Hederman and Avila plan to add sandwiches soon.
While the opening went off without a hitch (any hiccups were already anticipated thanks to the co-founders deep industry experience opening restaurants and bars), as Brewer’s Row finds its stride, it has added happy hour ($2 off any 10- or 16-ounce draft beer all day Monday; Tuesday- and Friday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.) and a trivia night, which Hederman says has brought the beer bar to capacity every Tuesday night since its launch.
Although Avila can geek out about beer — he spent five years as Eataly’s head brewer — he grows thoughtful when asked what it is about beer he likes. “It’s going to sound super corny, but I love the social aspect of it.”
Avila and Hederman are happy to indulge those patrons who really want to get into the beer itself, but it’s not their calling card. “You put down a few pints of beer, conversation starts to flow between strangers, and before you know it, at the end of the night, you might have made a friend or two.”
Avila, left, and Hederman (courtesy Exsar Arguello)