This is the third installment of my "Brooklyn Beer Bars" series which began Wednesday. To read the first installment, including a write up of the Waterfront Ale House and definition of just what constitutes a "beer bar", click here - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/604687. The 2nd installment, a write up of Cherry Tree, is here - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/604993
82 4th Ave - between Bergen and St. Marks
This place bills itself as a California style beer bar. Some day I would like to go to the west coast and do extensive research to find out of this is true. In the meantime I’ll note that the only thing Californian about the place is the beers, and even a few of those are from the East Coast. The crowd is from Brooklyn and is therefore local and sustainable.
I liked this place a lot.
The bar seems wider than a standard New York store front and is pleasantly spacious. At the rear of the front room is a back lighted stained glass window that attracts the eye. There are about 4 mid sized tables in the front by the door. In the rear there’s a comfortable back room fitted out with the bookshelves and couches that became mandatory for back rooms about 5 years ago. There was also a big screen TV showing a basketball game. As far as I could tell the TV had it’s sound off, a nice touch. There was no TV in the front room.
The lighting was normal for a bar, not overly bright or overly dim.
There were two young bartenders working the long bar. They were efficient and friendly and better yet, they seemed proud to be working there.
The age level was the same as Cherry Tree, about 23 to 24, but there were subtle differences. I’ve got it. Cherry Tree was filled with self consciously hip Business majors. Pacific Standard caters to English and History majors with a smattering of Psych majors and engineers. They appeared less polished than the crowd at Cherry Tree or the 4th Ave. Pub but I thought that was a good thing.
The place was about two thirds full at 9:30 on a Friday night and the crowd was well behaved considering that they were young and drinking beer. Compare that to the Gate in Park Slope where the crowd starts shrieking at 7:00PM and doesn’t let up until closing.
Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, the Kinks, Neil Young, and various folkish sounding things that might have been playing on a college radio station. The volume was low enough not to hinder conversation.
They have around 16 beers on draft. To make choosing easier, there’s a printed beer list with a short flavor profile of each beer. From my sampling, I found the profiles to be accurate and very useful in selecting the types of beers you’re likely to enjoy. Whenever I saw “Belgian” I immediately crossed that brew off the list. Here’s what I had:
Stone Pale Ale – frothy on the tongue with a touch of sweetness. For a pale ale, it was surprisingly unhoppy. The bit of sweetness threw me too. Some people might enjoy this but it’s not for me.
Bear Republic Racer 5 – as soon as it touches your tongue it seems to explode into foam. That doesn’t sound pleasant but it is. The beer is hoppy but not overly so and the flavors are nicely balanced. I’d be happy to drink a lot more of this.
Sierra Nevada ESB – I was looking forward to this since Sierra Pale Ale is my default beer at home. The ESB isn’t a bad beer at all but it seemed to have a little less character than the standard pale ale. I wouldn’t bother with this again.
Chelsea Hop Angel – the beer tip sheet called this a California style cask conditioned ale although unlike the other beers it’s brewed in New York. I’ve been to London over 20 times; maybe they brew them that way out in California but the Chelsea Hop Angel was a ringer for a well made British bitter. It was creamy on the tongue with a pleasant balance of hops. Since it was a hand pulled cask ale it was cool rather than chilled and naturally carbonated. In a London pub this beer could hold it’s own. In a Brooklyn bar it was heaven.
The cask ales, like all their beers, rotate so I’m not sure how often the Hop Angel comes around. This is probably a good thing since I’d be tempted to move closer to Pacific Standard and start dating this beer.
They serve bar snacks. I believe I saw a meat and cheese platter being carried into the back room. Yelp posters also say that the management doesn't mind if you get food delivered from restaurants.
Behind the bar is a chart labeled The Periodic Table of Beer Styles. It’s a ringer for the Periodic Table of Elements and is probably designed to appeal to those engineers I mentioned earlier.
I observed a girl at the bar eating what appeared to be sauerkraut right out of a jar. I have no explanation for this.
The bar has a dark side. They have a walk in refrigerator behind the bar and inside I observed cans of Schaeffer and Bud light. No one actually drank any of this stuff while I was there. Perhaps they do a special “Hipster Night” promotion on Tuesdays.
I would avoid ordering a cocktail in this bar. At one point I saw one of the bartenders sidle up to a computer behind the bar and call up an application called Webtender. It was an on line guide to making mixed drinks and he was looking up how to make an Old Fashioned. This is a probably a bad sign for Cocktailians. On the other hand the bartenders are whizzes at working the hand pump.
There was a sign behind the bar that said “Ask about our frequent drinker program.” I think I will look into this.
Coming Monday - 4th Ave. Pub.