While brewing at home is great fun, the Brooklyn Brew Shop team likes to get out and grab a beer every once in 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.
Ted Kenny — framed between two massive, frosted refrigerator units — is king of a tiny kingdom, one so small it can exist quietly behind a pair of glass doors on Orchard St. in downtown Manhattan. It's a kingdom of bottles and cans, each of them chilled and ready to pour, lined up like soldiers in his beer shop and bar, Top Hops.
Kenny, who previously worked with beer giant Anheuser-Busch, has managed, almost miraculously, to squeeze over 750 bottles of beer into this Lower East Side shop, meaning one thing for customers: a practically unlimited choice of craft beers.
"We're always keeping our eyes out for different products and our customers come in and tell us about different drinks, too," Kenny said. "We get stuff that you're not going to find, or you're only going to find in a couple of places."
Overwhelmed yet? Not to worry—Top Hops is a bit of a clown car scenario—a small space packed with lots of fun, and an invitation to be inquisitive. The entire space is a narrow rectangle, neatly decorated with all things beer-related. At any point, drinkers can grab a beer out of a refrigerator and take it up to the bar. Toward the back of the room, a few tables offer spots for drinkers who couldn't squeeze in up front.
"With craft beer, people want to know the story behind the beer … and people want to try beers from different places," Kenny said. "Most of the people who are in [the] craft beer [industry] understand that they don't know everything and that they're learning every day. We joke around, it's always a school day at Top Hops."
Learning is easy here, between the bartenders and blackboard offering up heaps of information on beers' origins, ABVs and IBUs. Regardless of what you're drinking—which could be practically anything—Kenny said he likes to see customers leave the bar with new knowledge. For those drinking off draft brews, snag a staff member or chat with fellow beer drinkers. However it happens, it's this education that Kenny said is a constant priority for Top Hops.
Visit: Top Hops // 94 Orchard St. New York, NY 10002 // 212.254.4677