While brewing at home is great fun, the Brooklyn Brew Shop team likes to get out and grab a beer every once and a while. Who doesn't? With that in mind, we would like to give our fellow beer drinkers the scoop on some of the best beer bars in our area. From Brooklyn to Manhattan to the occasional stop out of town, here's where you might find us drinking tonight.
Tucked away in Hell’s Kitchen, The Pony Bar's original location on 10th Avenue could be one of the only bars in Manhattan that has two massive LCD screens and neither tuned into a football game. Instead, these screens are windows into the Pony Bar’s beer list — a collection of strictly American, constantly rotating craft beers. It’s this States-focused aspect that sets the bar apart from other craft beer joints; while many are bursting at the seams with Belgian and German beers, this bar has kept things within U.S. borders, something that owner, Dan McLaughlin has aimed to do from the start.
“The focus on American beer goes back two decades to my belief that some of the best beers in the world are being brewed right here in our own backyards,” McLaughlin said. “Seven years ago, when we signed our lease for our first Pony Bar, I wanted to emphasize that fact.”
To do this, McLaughlin has 20 rotating taps hooked up to some of the best beers around, and while he and the minds behind the Pony Bar — which has another location in the Upper East Side — have stuck to draft-only, drinkers are still getting treated to a wide range of styles and flavors. McLaughlin said he always tries to keep the basics and a few wild cards on tap.
“I like a mix of seasonal offerings mixed in with core styles,” he said. “We always have a couple of popular IPAs on, along with two ciders, a wheat beer, a pilsner and a lager. The rest of the styles tend to be wild cards, anything from a Gose or a Berliner Weiss to a Belgian-style wit or Russian Imperial Stout.”
Ordering those beers will bring you right back to those big LCD screens. On them, everything from the beers' states of origin to ABV to ounces in each pour is on display, letting customers know exactly what they’re getting and where it came from.
It’s an effort appreciated by customers like Andrew Gussman, who used to frequent the Pony Bar when he lived in New York City. He now lives in Philadelphia, but he said the distance doesn’t stop him from stopping into the Pony Bar when he’s back in the Big Apple. It’s the education, Gussman said, that turned him into a regular of the bar.
"Coming here, with the constantly rotating draft list, I really became educated about the American craft beer scene,” Gussman said. “The bartenders were so knowledgable, and so great to the regulars, it made it a really comfortable environment.”
Ultimately, McLaughlin said, he wants the Pony Bar to do justice to the city around it. He said the cultural significance of New York City, including the many visitors it welcomes each year, gives him all the more reason to offer the best beer he can.
“New York City is really the capital of the world, certainly the capital of the United States. Between the eight million-plus people who live here and the fifty million people a year who visit us, we can certainly offer them some of the best beers that America has to offer.”
Visit: The Pony Bar
Hell's Kitchen // 637 10th Ave. New York, NY 10036 // 212.586.2707
Upper East Side // 1444 1st Ave. New York, NY 10036 // 212.288.0090