By Meredith Heil
When I left my part-time job in the Lower East Side for a full-time gig in midtown, I figured my happiest happy hours were behind me. Gone were those late afternoons spent indulging in $1.50 oysters and ½ price pints at Schiller’s Liquor Bar, pickle plates and IPAs at Spitzer’s and epic tap takeovers at Top Hops. How I pined for those downtown evenings as I descended into the 50th Street station after my first day at the new office, surrounded by suits and briefcases and sandwich boards advertising martini specials, Corona longnecks and pitchers of Miller.
That was until some light Yelping and a little faith led me to my new go-to post-work joint: Beer Culture. I didn’t believe the reviews at first – sure, Midtown has some decent-to-fine craft beer bars, but the closer you get to that fluorescent hub of wide-eyed activity that is Times Square, the fewer you find. So how was it possible that a cozy beer bar, with a fantastic handpicked selection of fine craft brews including several rotating taps, a cask and one of the best bottle selections in town, existed on 45th and 8th Avenue? I can’t tell you why it’s there, but I’m sure glad it is.
Beer Culture is tucked away in a narrow, ground level space on a tree-lined street that’s also home to Broadway’s Kinky Boots, Private Eyes Gentlemen’s Club and Sweet Caroline’s Comedy Club. An unlikely spot for a beer bar, yes, but that’s what makes it great – or at least remarkably tourist free in a part of town where almost nothing is. Well-stocked coolers line the walls, filled with tastefully chosen bottles and cans from around the world. The taps range from Belgian sours to West Coast IPAs and everything in between and a corner of the long, rectangular bar has been cut away to expose the week’s cask offering. There are a couple of flat screen TVs for the sports-inclined and a small menu specializing in cheese plates and delicious house made meatballs. You can also grab an adorably branded growler or bomber to go, though I’m not sure anyone would venture back out if given the choice.
Service is fine, but at least the bartenders know their ales from their lagers. They also know their crowd, apparently. Wayward finance guys and confused out-of-towners are often directed to a retro refrigerator stashed in a corner, brimming with the yellow fizzy classics: Ballantine, Schlitz, Genessee and Schaefer. Beer Culture knows how to keep it classy, even in Times Square.
Beer Culture is located at 328 West 45th St. at 8th Avenue. Closest subways are the A,C,E at 42 St – Port Authority Bus Terminal, the N,Q,R at 49 St. Also all the other subways at Times Square 42nd St.