“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” is a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin that he never actually uttered in any way. Nonetheless—beautiful words that relieve countless beer drinkers of any guilt associated with drinking too many of their carbs. Beer is a gigantic part of my life; it is literally my job. I love beer, and the beer that I love is most commonly referred to as “craft beer.” I just refer to it as “good beer.”
It may surprise you, but Bay Ridge is peppered from front to back with stores that sell a wide verity of great craft beers. It’s actually difficult to walk into a corner store (some of you less native to these parts might call them “bodegas”) and not find a representative of the craft-beer movement. Even some of the most sparsely stocked beer stores will have a Lagunitas IPA or something from Coney Island Brewery. The beer world we live in is changing, and isn’t it magnificent!
Still, there area few shops that stand out and offer a truly magical and special selection of brew. You are in one of the best places for craft beer in the city—screw Park Slope or Williamsburg. The merchants and stores here have this beer thing locked down. If you feel any differently, you’re not looking in the right places. Check out these wonderful locations and get educated about the finer side of craft…whilst you get loaded.
BR Specialty Beer Store
(7201 Third Ave)
This place looks like a typical corner store on the outside, save for the “BRBRBRBR” printed around its awning. (The more I say the letters BRBRBRBR, the more giddy I get about buying beer from these chaps—points for the name.) Inside, the store is chockful of dry and canned goods, but you can see immediately that the rear of the store holds a treasure trove of delicious suds. They have an amazing selection of American craft beer. The stock seems to rotate quickly, so this is not a bad place to grab an IPA (which should be consumed as close to the bottle date as possible). It’s also moderately priced; that, mixed with selection, makes this a great destination for your beer needs.
Great Find: Stone Ruin Ten Triple IPA (California, USA)
Organic Girl on Third
(9401 Third Ave)
No, it’s true—that’s the name. “Organic Girl on Third.” I am sure there is a lengthy story about how that became the name, but that’s for a different time. This place is bananas. It’s the smallest location on this list, but every inch is covered in beer. The store offers Lotto, some tobacco products and a few snack options, but this is a BEER store, allcaps. They have a great selection of American craft beer and an interesting selection of imports you may want to try out. The prices at this place are a little steep, HOWEVER, the service is amazing, and they know how to take care of their customers. This is also the place that it pays to become buddy-buddy with the owners, because it’s the place to get those impossible to find popular American beers. If you want to get KBS or Bourbon County Brand come next season, make yourself known here.
Great Find: Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout (Illinois, USA)
(9105 Third Avenue)
I know it’s a relatively big store without the mom-and-pop feel of a tiny corner store, but Foodtown’s beer selection is insane. Now, you most likely aren’t going to find super rare beer here; they fly off the shelf too quickly. But what you are going to find is an amazing selection of fresh craft beer. This is my go-to spot for IPAs. They don’t come any fresher then at Foodtwown, and as a big bonus, they don’t come any cheaper. If you haven’t been to the beer aisle in Foodtown and you like beer, punish yourself by drinking a Budweiser and then get moving.
Great Find : FRESH Bells Hop Slam (Michigan, USA)
86 Bagel Donuts and Deli
(8529 Third Avenue)
I have never been in this shop and seen someone get a bagel, donut or sandwich, although I’m sure it happens from time to time. To me, this not-deli is an amazing beer store. The selection here is probably the most eclectic out of any store in Bay Ridge. All the others on this list are extremely American heavy; this place has all the American beer and some of the best imports out there, from Japan to Italy. Some of these bottles can be pricey, but they are the kinds of beer that can be compared to great wine, and realistically you can’t find some of these beers anywhere else. If you are looking for something truly special, this is the place to go for specialty European, sours and hard-to-find special releases.
Great Find: Birra Baladin Nora Sour 2010 (Piozzo, Italy)