This is the second installment of my "Brooklyn Beer Bars" series which began yesterday. To read the first installment, including a definition of just what constitutes a "beer bar", click here - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/604687
65 4th Ave. (between Bergen and St. Marks)
Cherry Tree is located in the previously mentioned Beer Triangle – a one block area populated by 3 beer bars. That area of 4th Avenue is one block away from a large housing project and 10 years ago I would not have chosen to walk on that block after dark. The store fronts consisted of hole in the wall takeout Chinese joints, car service dispatchers, Hispanic travel agencies, and flat/fix places. It was a full service neighborhood – scary looking hookers operated a couple of blocks away at the corner of Pacific St.
The hookers are gone now but even in this time of relatively low crime the area retains a certain edge. Two toothless black men chatted with each other a couple of doors down from the entrance. A third rode down the street on a Jazzy. (Maybe they have a club?) At any rate if I was a woman I wouldn’t want to go strolling around there alone at 1:00AM after having 5 or 6 pints of beer.
Cherry Tree is a narrow dark place, pleasant enough. There are scattered small tables and in the back is a projection screen showing random TV shows. One night it was extreme snowboarding. On another, it was Clint Eastwood in a cop movie. I think the TV was tuned to the Ironic Channel.
There was a wooden beer selection board behind the bar with chiseled labels showing the brewer and the specific beer. It was supposed to look rustic but I found it to be nearly illegible. Later I discovered that they had a printed beer list.
There was only a single bartender but he was efficient.
David Bowie, Flock of Seagulls, and lots of rap. Then, for a change of pace, more rap. It was all too loud to allow easy conversation with anyone who was more than 3 feet away.
The average age was around 23. They were well behaved and considering the volume of the music they weren’t shouting. I had the feeling that while they enjoyed the beers, the bar aspect of the place was the most important thing to them. In other words if the owners cut back the beer selection by 70% the crowd would still show up. The place was no more than half full at 10:00PM on a Friday night.
They have 21 beers on tap and I tried 2 of them.
Victory Pilsner – my notes say “disappointingly ordinary.”
Sixpoint IPA – It was very full and creamy. After a minute you notice coffee and chocolate overtones and a slight touch of sweetness. A lot of people like that in a beer but it’s not something I prize.
Various Yelp commenters mentioned that at one point they served pretty good pizza to go along with the beers. Then some time last year they stopped serving food. The bar changed hands this past January so there is some hope that those pizzas will make a comeback.
There was an interesting video game being played at the end of the bar. A flat screen monitor, about the size of a regular computer screen, was set up on the bar. It was a two player game that consisted of side by side displays of what initially appeared to be the same picture. The pictures differed in subtly different ways and the object of the game was to touch the screen with a stylus to identify the parts of the picture that differed.
To make things interesting the pictures did not consist of forest scenes where you looked for bunnies and squirrels in different trees. No, the pictures were of swimsuit models in skimpy outfits posing suggestively.
The game caught my interest. It was being played by 2 young girls with great expertise.
I tried hard to imagine sitting side by at the bar with my friend Brian and touching a stylus to the screen identifying tiny differences in pictures of semi naked men. After some thought, I decided that it will never happen.
Tomorrow: Pacific Standard