On Saturdays, I lead organized pub crawls of Williamsburg for the suds-centric walking tour company, Urban Oyster. Each bar along the boozy 3-hour traipse represents a different slice of the craft beer pie, from the 25-tap hipster cave known as Barcade, to Mugs, which could best be described as “Cheers” with a killer draft list. Yet while all the beer dens we visit are beautiful snowflakes in their own right, my absolute favorite has to be stop number three: Breukelen Bier Merchants.
Named for the traditional Dutch spelling of Brooklyn, Grand Street’s Breukelen Bier Merchants is the beloved brainchild of beer geeks Greg, his wife Renee, and their cousin Denise. The ambitious trio dreamed of a world beyond the corporate 9 to 5 hustle that ruled their waking lives and in 2010, came up with a business plan and took the publican plunge. Their guiding force was simple and genuine — they wanted to create a place where they’d like to hang out. Thankfully, the resulting relaxed and inviting taphouse was an instant success, a real breath of fresh air in a neighborhood dominated by divey college bars and upscale cocktail lounges.
On any given day, one or more of the three owners will be behind Breukelen’s lengthy bar, talking beer, filling growlers and pressing sandwiches for the masses. A case of coolers lines the opposite wall, filled to the gills with an impressive and carefully selected lot of international and American bottles and cans. The 16 taps rotate regularly, featuring many draft-only hits from local outfits like Other Half, Finback and SingleCut as well as hard to find collaborations, limited run brews and craft mainstays. Most drafts are priced for flight, ½ pint, pint and growler pours – and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a ½ pint? Seating options are plentiful as well, ranging from overstuffed leather armchairs to heavy communal tables, and there are plenty of board games to keep you busy while you’re sipping. Not a board game guy? Check out their monthly social events, including everything from beer trivia hosted by Brew York’s Chris O’Leary, to an OK Cupid singles night, to pet rescue fundraisers.
My advice: next time you find yourself in Brooklyn’s most famous ‘hood, pop into Breukelen Bier Merchants for a friendly pint and a bit of respite from the Williamsburg hip parade.
Breukelen Bier Merchants is located at 182 Grand St. in Williamsburg. Closest subways are the G train at Metropolitan Ave and the L train at Bedford Ave.