Pull a Chair up to Beer Table
There are many choices in the Big Apple when it comes to craft beer bars. We feel pleasantly overwhelmed when heading out to drink our way around New York. Amongst these choices is a jewel of a gem in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn called Beer Table.
As the name suggests, the setting is modest; three long communal tables, classic brick walls and some beer. The lighting is warm, the space tiny, and the design sparse and cozy. The beer list, however, is anything but simple. This is a list printed out daily, in the fashion of seasonal bistros that prepare a new special du jour. The list is organized from more subtle, lighter, nuanced flavored beers to bigger beers on the bottom like Barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stouts. They also offer three beers on tap and one cask.
For beer connoisseurs the list is a gold mine of rare finds, but to the beer newbie, the list may take some guidance, which is happily provided by owners Justin and Tricia Philips. One of the two will approach each table in order to help you find a beer ideally suited for your palate and state of mind. The menu descriptions of each beer are quite specific, and even without consultation, word combos like "bubblegum, wood smoke, banana, breakfast sausage" will elicit a definitive response from anyone, (that's their description for the flavor notes in Aecht Schlenkerla RauchBier Weizen, see below).
The descriptions are of the detail usually reserved for wine, and we commend anyone who recognizes the beautiful complexity of flavors beer has to offer. We also love the use of common words, as opposed to simply focusing on hop varietals and beer styles, which can often confuse the new beer drinker. The beer is kept at the proper temperature, (we were served a Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout at room temp, as Justin recommends).
There is a modest food menu of interesting items that changes daily as well. The style of food falls in line with the reinterpretation of comfort food that is popular in gastropubs these days. Here are a few examples; pickled eggs with jalapeno powder, radishes with butter and sea salt, and caramelized bacon and potatoes with chives.
The price on the beers are sometimes steep, but still a bargain when compared with the price of fine french wines and fancy martinis. We suggest sharing each bottle amongst friends, as this is a place to take a beer journey, not to drink the same pint after pint. A night at Beer Table made us feel like we had access to a beer lover's personal cellar, and we can't wait to go back for more!!Here are the beers that blew our minds:
- J.W. Lees Harvest Ale 2007 Limited Edition, J.W. Lees & Co.- Manchester, UK English Ale aged in Lagavulin Whisky Casks. Warming alcohol, sweet grainy malt with a complex peaty scotch backbone. 11.5% ABV.
- Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Founders Brewery – Grand Rapids, Michigan A world famous Imperial Stout made with a ton of coffee and chocolate, and aged for a year in bourbon barrels. Smells like espresso, rich and intense, bourbon vanilla behind the dark chocolate and coffee notes. 11.2% ABV
- Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Weizen, Brauereiausschank Schlenkerla – Bamberg, Germany An unfiltered wheat beer made with wood smoked malt. As Beer Table puts it "bubblegum, wood smoke, banana, breakfast sausage" 5.2% ABV.