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Brooklyn Beer Bars Part 5


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Brooklyn Beer Bars Part 5

Bob Martinez | Jun 15, 2009 07:42 AM

A few months back I started writing beer reviews and managed to get four of them done -
I envisioned this to be the start of a Grand Tour of the beer bars of New York accompanied by regular postings. Perhaps I'd even start a blog. There were pleasant hazy dreams of somehow being able to deduct my bar bills from my taxes. Good times. But deep inside me is a lazy man trying to get out. While I actually visited a couple of other bars and took notes I never got around to writing them up. Since I feel energetic today it’s time to set that right.

Brazen Head
228 Atlantic Avenue between Court St and Boerum Place
Brooklyn, NY

The bar is conveniently located near the Brooklyn House of Detention. This provides a handy landmark when you’re telling people where to meet you.

The room itself is asymmetrical, and narrows as you go further back. At the rear is a back garden but since it was a Friday night in mid March I didn’t venture out. I was so intrigued by the shape of the room that I drew the outline in my notes and then looked it up – it’s a trapezoid. Wow. Who says high school geometry doesn’t come in handy?

There is a well used dart board in the back and a few tables and chairs arranged haphazardly around the room. The effect was pleasant and relaxed, like a pub in a small country village.

As bars go this one was relatively brightly lighted – the level was about the same as the Waterfront Ale House. If you were by yourself you could easily read a book or a newspaper. Three normal sized TVs were positioned behind the bar. On the night in March when I visited they were showing the NCAA tournament with the sound off.

The overall noise level in the room was mild for a bar. Conversation was easy.

There was a single young bartender. Given the moderate size of the place this worked well. Orders were filled promptly and he was very friendly. He often was engaged in conversations with patrons but always kept an eye on the bar so glasses didn’t go unfilled for very long. He was a real pro.

I got a buyback on my 3rd or 4th beer and he announced it with the traditional double rap of his knuckles on the bar and a pleasant “Good luck!” I have never gotten tired of hearing those words.

The Crowd
The age mix was also about the same as the Waterfront Ale House, ranging from early 20s to mid 60s. I suspect that a number of them were beer geeks judging by the detailed discussions I heard between the bartender and a number of the patrons. I noticed a few groups of women sitting together as well. It’s that type of place – very relaxed. The room was about 60% full on a Friday night.

While there was the usual collection of groups and singles I noticed a number of young couples where it seemed like the guy was introducing his girlfriend to different types of beer. The bartender was very cooperative in pouring various samples until the girl found something she liked. Brazen Head fills a hitherto unknown niche as a Beer Date Bar.

Damned if I know. It was mostly instrumental stuff – new agey rock meets Mike Oldfield meets Phillip Glass. I liked it. Again, the volume was low enough so the music didn’t interfere with conversation.

The Beers
There are 17 beers on tap including 2 cask ales. They were listed on a chalk board behind the bar. While this is standard practice at beer bars I’ve been spoiled by the beer menu at Pacific Standard that gives a one sentence description of each beer. It helps guide your choices. Brazen Head should borrow this idea.

In addition to the beers they have a number of single malt scotches available as well as wines by the glass. I only sampled two beers but I liked them well enough to stick with them for the whole evening.

Sly Fox IPA – It’s a cask ale, hand pumped. The beer is creamy, nice and full. I noticed with every third or fourth sip I got a slight taste of salt. This sounds unpleasant but it wasn’t – just unusual. Maybe I imagined it.

Southampton Secret Ale – this had a pleasant well balanced bitterness that grew on me. The carbonation seemed lower than similar beers but I didn’t find it flat at all. It was awhile back - my notes say “bright tasting” so I’ll just have to trust myself.

Extra Points
They do Events. Mondays they have a dart competition and complimentary chicken wings. On Tuesday nights all pints are $5.00. There’s more stuff but I didn’t bother to write it down.

Behind the bar was a picture of Barack Obama. In Brooklyn we love our President.

Brazen Head has wi-fi access. From their website:

“For all Those workaholics who like to come to a bar & work on their laptops the Brazen Head is now Wifi accessible however, we suggest after 2 or 3 beers or cocktails, you close your computer, relax and have a few more.”

You’ve got to admire their style.

Because of the basketball tournament the TV ads were largely aimed at men. I saw plenty of them for Viagra and Cialis. Happy couples, in their 40s and 50s but still good looking. In one of them a couple is out dancing, really twirling around a hotel ballroom. Then they exchange knowing looks and slink away to their hotel room for a night of Cialis fueled passion. Hammer and tongs. After a number of beers it occurred to me that I’ve always assumed that the couples in these ads are married. What if it’s 2 people having an affair?

Anyway, I liked Brazen Head very much. They’ve been open for more than 9 years and do a great job. I’ll be back.

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