There was a time long ago when beer brought to mind grandfathers and uncles sipping watery brews from a can or bottle. Most bars stuck with the popular brands, and they were all pretty much the same.
Things have changed. Craft breweries have led to new flavors and profiles, and brewpubs that brew their own beers are growing in popularity. Many of these pubs offer tastings and quality food, prepared by chefs who talk of pairing beers the way foodies have paired wine with meals for decades.
Joshua Stylman, co-founder of Threes Brewing in New York, says that as people become more discerning about what they eat, they want food experiences they can feel good about. That includes food and drink that has a connection to a place, either something local or from a small business. “It’s so exciting for us to be a part of this wave of amazing craft breweries that exist all over the country that are not only making really stellar beers, but also bringing interesting and thoughtful beers to a broader audience,” he says.
Brewpubs also can be an ideal location for a large group looking for a space for an event, meeting or company party. Sampling and talking about different beers can break the ice and lead to meaningful conversations. Here are some choices for brewpubs that accommodate groups.
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant has two New Jersey locations—Maple Shade and Voorhees— that serve hand-crafted beers with meals made from local ingredients.
Each Iron Hill location has a craft kitchen and scratch brewery, allowing chefs to pair fresh ingredients with the highest-quality grains and hops. Pairings can include an Ore House IPA mustard served with house-made soft pretzel sticks and the Bedotter Ale barbecue glaze that is slathered on baby back ribs.
Iron Hill’s signature beers include Vienna Red Lager, Iron Hill Light Lager, Witberry, White Iron Wit, Ore House IPA and Pig Iron Porter. Beers rotate seasonally and both locations have space for private events and corporate outings.
The Maple Shade location can accommodate cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for up to 70. Sit-down lunches and dinners can accommodate up to 55. The Voorhees location does not have a dedicated private room, but can still accommodate group events.
Threes Brewing is a Brooklyn-based brewery located in the Gowanus neighborhood, with a second outpost in Greenpoint. Both spaces offer dining and drinking, and can host private events. Threes Brewing’s beers are brewed in Gowanus, which features 5,000 feet of space indoors and 3,200 feet outdoors.
"We strive to make approachable beers that balance simplicity and complexity, with a focus on lagers, farmhouse ales and hopAmerican ales,” Stylman says. “Our bestknown and most popular beer is the Vliet Pilsner, a drink-anywhere expertly brewed pils that is crisp and crushable, with a subtly sweet malt profile. Vliet means ‘canal’ in Dutch, and this beer is our homage to our home near the Gowanus canal.”
The bar area also sells beer from other breweries as well as wine and cocktails. A casual dining experience is available by ordering from Threes Brewing’s partner, The Meat Hook, a whole animal butcher shop headquartered in Williamsburg. Food options include sandwiches, burgers, sides, salads, snacks and vegetarian fare. Purslane Catering handles the food at the Greenpoint location.
For meetings, the Gowanus location has a 1,000-square-foot smaller venue within the brewery, called Tiny Montgomery, as well as the main bar, café and backyard outdoor space.
“Multiple spaces can be combined or used separately for smaller team meetings and events,” Stylman says. “Our Greenpoint venue is 1,300 square feet, with an additional 335-square-foot private dining room. Both locations offer on-site catering and beverage packages, A/V equipment, Wi-Fi and event coordination.”
Yonkers Brewing Co. offers a range of beer styles and varieties on a seasonal basis. Flagship brews include the Hop Runner IPA, Squeaky Clean APA and the award-winning 914 Vienna Lager. In the summer, it features United Kolsch, and this year saw the launch of a spring seasonal, Wheat Noise Wheat Session IPA.
“Every beer is created with pride and ambition. Knowing the evolution of the company enriches the already wonderful story of Yonkers,” says John Rubbo, the “BrewEO” of Yonkers Brewing Co. “The resilient commitment to honor, innovation and investment in the company—and the hometown—can be found in every sip and every event.”
Food options include a small plates menu with options such as crispy parmesan Brussels sprouts and deviled eggs topped with fried oysters and a housemade spicy aioli.
“We also make chicken wings seven different ways,” Rubbo says. “Our fish taco, with Vienna Lager beer-battered white fish topped with fresh red cabbage, house-made guacamole and salsa verde, is also a fan favorite.”
The menu includes a variety of sandwiches; Rubbo recommends the “pork roll,” made with Taylor ham and cheddar cheese. Healthier eaters can choose from salads, and heartier eaters can enjoy pan-seared salmon, fried chicken’n cheddar waffles, and mac ‘n cheese.
He adds that Yonkers Brewing Co.’s space is flexible and can accommodate groups ranging from 25-170 guests.
“The brewery is pretty spacious, and we have the ability to rope sections off for various activity stations or private parties,” Rubbo says. “The great thing about hosting an event here is that we have everything you need—a full bar with wine, cocktails, and, of course, great craft beer; a full kitchen; the ability to hook up microphones for speaking engagements; and a great space. We even have a parking garage just steps away from the brewery that offers ample parking for larger parties.”
Harvest Moon Brewery & Cafe in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is a local brewpub in a building that is more than a century old.
“We usually have nine or 10 of our handcrafted brews on tap ranging from our lightest (MoonLight Kolschbier) to seasonal stouts and porters,” says owner Neil Glass. “We always have a few special and seasonal favorites on tap as well.”
The pub’s chef and brewer use local and seasonal flavors to create a unique dining experience, as well as customized beer pairings dinners for corporate events.
“Our unique setting in a historic building is ideal for many types of events [for 10 to about 170 people],” Glass says. “We have two floors and various spaces we use to accommodate many different group sizes. The interesting space, craft beers brewed on site and our chef’s ability to create a wide range of menu options makes us a special place for any event or meeting.”