Photo: Washington Commons
A weekly look at the draft selections in beer-friendly bars across the country.
A good local pub is something special -- a place where you can hang out with friends and meet neighbors by socializing the old-fashioned way... in person. Blogs and social networks and webcams are great, but one of the most traditional ways people have connected isn't with a computer, it's with a pint.
My neighborhood has a number of spots I love, but when it comes to that classic pub setting -- with a fantastic beer selection to boot -- my favorite watering hole is Brooklyn's Washington Commons.
When people think friendly bar, the show Cheers often comes to mind: a place where "everyone knows your name." This point isn't lost on Kirk Struble, one of Washington Commons' owners. When asked what makes a bar a great local hangout, he immediately points to the staff.
"What it comes down to is the hiring of our bartenders," says Struble. "We try to get people who are from Brooklyn or live in the area." The goal is "to foster a community feel."
Since opening last April, Washington Commons has quickly become a neighborhood staple. But it took more than good employees to build that community atmosphere. The television never shows sports or news, instead always going with cult movies or shows that will spark conversation, not inhibit it. And the bar's giant outdoor seating area helps too. "We try to make ourselves like everybody's backyard," Struble says.
And of course, having great beer is more and more common in neighborhood pubs not just in New York, but around the country. Plus, focusing beer selections locally is one more step in showing community pride. "All the stuff that's from New York, we spell out [on the beer list] so you know your drinking things from in-state," explains Struble.
He also listens to what people want. "I take people's suggestions," he continues. "That way [the customers] have a stake when you have a beer they said to have on." He then adds with a laugh, "It makes my job easier too."
Just the kind of joke you'd expect from the friendly owner of your neighborhood bar!
Here's a recent draft list at my local spot -- Washington Commons...
- Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' IPA
- Blue Point Toasted Lager
- Doc's Draft Hard Apple Cider
- Flying Dog Woody Creek White Ale
- Gouden Carolus Christmas Ale 2009
- Guinness Draft
- He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R(ye).I.P.A.
- Lagunitas Undercover Shut-Down Ale
- Lake Placid Honey Rye Ale
- Nectar Ales Red Nectar
- Old Speckled Hen Pub Ale
- Ommegang Zuur Sour Brown Ale
- Pauwel Kwaak Belgian Strong Ale
- Pretty Things American Darling Lager
- Struise Tsjeesus X-Mas Ale
- Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen
What's on tap at your local? Let us know your favorite local bar in the comments and give us an insight into their current draft selection.