Before it was an everyday afterthought beverage, and way before it was a hipster preference, beer was a staple of life in the city that helped shape the larger culture. That's the premise behind "Beer Here: Brewing New York's History," the just-opened exhibition at the New-York Historical Society.
"Beer is something people take for granted, but when you scratch the surface, it has such a long and deep history here," says Debra Bach, an associate curator at the society, who co-organized the show. The exhibition features paintings, drinking paraphernalia, advertisements, beer-making equipment and rare documents, among other items. And, yes, there are rotating tastings of the fruits of local breweries every day except Monday, and with extended hours till 8 p.m. Friday. (170 Central Park W., admission $15. For more info: 212-873-3400, nyhistory.org)
So you can conduct your own research, a key guide to the current-day New York City beer landscape is below. As Bach puts it, "Every time I walk through a new neighborhood, there's a new place to drink beer. There's so much happening with it these days."
GOOD BEER NYC
422 E. Ninth St., 212-677-4836
When you're ready for a well-curated selection of craft beers, smaller-production gems and other smart picks, this East Village outlet has it all. Take home a can of the Pork Slap Pale Ale for starters.
427B Seventh Ave., Brooklyn, 718-965-1196, beertable.com
No restaurant has mastered the matching of food and beer like Beer Table in Park Slope. Let proprietors Justin and Tricia Philips guide you to the right combination from their changing selections, which include delicious offerings like Evil Twin Disco Ale, served in a homey neighborhood spot.
41 E. Seventh St., 212-982-4576, burpcastlenyc.wordpress.com
Some servers wear monks' robes, and signs on the tables instruct patrons to whisper. But they're not joking around at this "temple of beer worship" that focuses on Euro brews, especially Belgian ones. Go soak in the atmosphere at one of New York's quirkiest establishments.
79 N. 11th St., Brooklyn, 718-486-7422, brooklynbrewery.com
Founded in 1988, this business was ahead of the curve in all respects, and brewmaster Garrett Oliver has become an icon of the craft beer world. Not only is the beer good, but the tourable Williamsburg facility has become a must-visit.
EARL'S BEER & CHEESE
1259 Park Ave., 212-289-1581, earlsny.com
This hole-in-the-wall on the Upper East Side is tiny, always packed and sports an ironic woodland photomural. But it is strong on the two items in its name. You can't go wrong with the grilled cheese or the Clown Shoes Vampire Slayer Imperial Stout, a dry but chocolaty concoction.