Once upon a time, Brooklyn provided a large share of the nation's beer thanks to a cadre of breweries launched by German immigrants. After Prohibition and waves of intense competition, the brewing culture declined, and by 1976, all of the borough's 45 breweries had decamped.
The story doesn't end there, however. Brewing culture has returned with a vengeance over the last several years, and now it seems a new ale outpost is opening every other month. Brooklyn is, once again, a bastion of local brews, and whether you’re looking for a national heavyweight or a hidden gem, you could spend days sampling the borough’s liquid delicacies.
Take a tour of these five brewing companies to see what the Brooklyn beer buzz is all about.1. Other Half Brewing
195 Centre Street between Smith and Court streets, Carroll Gardens
While its nondescript warehouse cuts a low-key figure on the Carroll Gardens scene, this small powerhouse still manages to put out a surprising number of the city’s top-rated beers. If you’re a hops lover, fill up your 64-ounce growler (skip the 32-ounce — you know you’ll want more!) with All Green Everything. Or tap into the Other Half Nelson if "slightly biscuity with a surprisingly assertive malt backing" sounds like something you'd like to grapple with. Tours are available by appointment, and you really can’t go wrong with a visit, but know that a trip to the Other Half is better for small groups — seating is a bit cozy.2. Threes Brewing
333 Douglass Street at 4th Avenue, Gowanus
Threes Brewing functions as not only a great place for great beer, but also as a notable Gowanus gathering space in with neighborhood meetings, art shows and pop-up shops frequently on site. You’ll also find live music and board games, so it's no surprise the establishment set out to create a space that’s "as warm as it is cool." But that's not to say the beer plays second fiddle at Threes! With 24 taps serving up names like Constant Disappointment IPA and Voluntary Exile Porter, you'll find delicious brews encompassing a wide range of flavors and brewing techniques. If you're not a beer fan, you're in luck. Threes Brewing also boasts a solid wine list and full bar, plus food from Williamsburg's The Meat Hook and coffee from Ninth Street Espresso.3. Brooklyn Brewery
In the borough’s second act as a center of brewing culture, there was a lone pioneer that started it all — Brooklyn Brewery. The unquestioned Goliath in the local scene, this brewer has gone national and even international, with its bottles found in countless restaurants and bars around the world. If you’re looking for quintessential Brooklyn, this is the place to go. The tasting room offers free tours on weekends, and during the week, you can opt for small batch tours where you might get to sip a seasonal release before it goes to market. Either way, you can enjoy a classic like Brooklyn Lager or go with something more offbeat. Black Chocolate Stout, anyone?
1904 Surf Avenue at West 17th Street, Coney Island
Say you're in the mood to see the ocean, take in some sun, maybe even ride the Cyclone — wouldn’t one of the city’s best beers be the perfect addition to that outing? Just steps from the sand in Coney Island, you'll find delicious Mermaid Pilsner, Kettle Corn Cream Ale and Candy Cane Kolsch to soothe what ails you. The Coney Island Brewing Company facility is the picture-perfect setting to down some brews with an industrial-eclectic indoor area and an outdoor patio. The brewery offers free tours Thursday through Sunday, and you might even be tempted to join their Beer Freak Club to save a few dollars and garner VIP access to events.5. Strong Rope Brewery
574A President Street at 4th Avenue, Gowanus
For a brewing experience that is pure New York, introduce yourself to Strong Rope Brewery at the border of Gowanus and Park Slope. Every herb, fruit and bit of flavor is sourced from the Empire State in an effort to support local farms. The brewery even features a speaker series with an emphasis on topics like sustainability. Make sure you ask about their distinctive brewed delights like the Falling Squirrel Project — a rotating selection of single malts and hops. For something fruity and spicy, check out the Seeds of Love and Outrage; for an interesting infusion of malted corn, go with the Young Lion of the West. Tours happen on Saturdays and include a tasting.
Brunch is either the kickoff to a great weekend or a cure for what ails you as that great weekend comes to a close. We're also big fans of the delicious food, good friends and, let's be honest, the socially acceptable day-drinking. So, if you're dying to declare, "It's 5 o'clock somewhere!" this weekend, check out these 12 Brooklyn brunch spots serving bottomless drink specials. Cheers!