Grab a great beer during the New York City Marathon

Take a beer tour of New York City while the runners conquer the NYC Marathon. Photo: TheBrewLounge.com

Unlike during the Marine Corps Marathon of which I wrote last week, there are many opportunities to duck in and have a beer during this year’s running of the New York City Marathon—well, provided you are not actually running it. Though, come to think of it, there have been reports in the past of not-so-serious runners stopping at a bar along the course to have a quick beer.

On the other hand, the spectators will have plenty of options for finding a great beer since all runners will not be across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge after the start until roughly 11 a.m. and the first of the elite runners will not be crossing the finish line until shortly after noon time. Plus, the New York City brewing and bar scene has improved dramatically over the past five years to give you many options along the way for finding a great beer.

It also helps that the City has a vast system of interwoven subway lines that can transport you within mere steps to blocks of the marathon route and nearby beer bars.

New York City is a tapestry of neighborhoods and ethnicities. Likewise, the better beer scene is alive and more well than ever in just about every neighborhood. Though, this is no where more obvious than in Brooklyn.

In honor of fellow Communities writer Karla Bruning’s (click to visit Run, Karla, Run!) running of the New York City Marathon this coming Sunday, November 7th and of this beer guy’s four year anniversary of running it himself, the following is a review of the marathon route and some of the better options for spotting your runner and grabbing a great beer along the way.

(note: mile marks are estimates)

Staten Island (0.0-2.0 miles)

It will be too early and no spectators are allowed until after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. So, no need to bother looking here for a beer. In addition, it is also worth mentioning for future reference that the craft beer scene really has not surfaced yet on Staten Island.

Brooklyn (2.0-13.0 miles), the course enters via the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Nearly half of the marathon is run through Brooklyn, from Fort Hamilton and Bay Ridge in the south to Park Slope in the middle and Williamsburg and Greenpoint in the north. If Brooklyn was a state, it would rank, by population, as the country’s fourth largest. Close to half of NYC’s good beer can be found here too. The following 14 establishments are providing some of the borough’s finest beer.

>> Beer Table, 7th Avenue and 14th Street, 718-965-1196, less than 1/2 mile east from the 6.50 mile mark

Open Sundays from 12:00 p.m. - Beer Table only has three draft lines, but the focus is on quantity not quality. And, really, if the selection is good, you really don’t need more than a handful to choose from anyway, right? Sunday brunch is served until 5 p.m.

>> Sixpoint Craft Ales, Van Dyke and Dwight streets, 917-696-0438, 1 1/2 miles west from the 6.75 mile mark

Closed Sundays - This brewery’s name is quickly becoming synonymous with New York which makes it fortunate that their beer is so good. You can typically find at least one of their brands at almost any good beer bar across the city.

>> The Gate, 5th Avenue and 3rd Street, 718-768-4329, 1 block east from the 7.00 mile mark

Open Sundays from 1:00 p.m. - Since 1997, the beer geek quotient has been high here with names like Captain Lawrence, Cigar City, Monk’s, and Stone to name just a few.

>> Bierkraft, 5th Avenue and Sackett Street, 718-230-7600, 1 block east from the 7.25 mile mark

Open Sundays from 12:00 p.m. - These guys are home to one of the region’s best sources of beer, cheese, chocolate, and charcuterie. All are available to easily purchase and take back to your hotel room. Or, you could grab a bottle and a bag for while you watch the race go by. Growler fills are available too, if you are looking for just a bit more beer than the standard bottle.

>> Bar Great Harry, Smith and Sackett streets, 718-222-1103, 2/3 mile west from the 7.25 mile mark

Open Sundays from 2:00 p.m. - Bring your dog, bring your runner to this very cool Brooklyn neighborhood spot where you can always get fresh locals from Brooklyn and Sixpoint.

>> Pacific Standard, 4th Avenue and St. Marks Place, 718-858-1951, on the course at the 7.75 mile mark

Open Sundays from 12:00 p.m. - Now into their fourth year, you can usually find some good local beers like Sixpoint and Chelsea on tap. Also, a decent cask-conditioned selection, like Sixpoint Righteous Rye, can often be found.

>> The Brazen Head, Court Street and Atlantic Avenue, 718-488-0430, 3/4 mile west from the 8.00 mile mark

Open Sundays from 2:00 p.m. - Complimentary bagels “with fixins” are served from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

>> Waterfront/Pete’s Ale House, Clinton Street and Atlantic Avenue, 718-522-3794, 4/5 mile west from the 8.00 mile mark

Open Sundays from 12:00 p.m. - Stop in at Pete’s Ale House where they have been pouring some of the craft brewing industry’s finest since 1989. They were one of Brooklyn’s earliest adopters of craft beer.

>> Kelso of Brooklyn, Waverly and Atlantic avenues, 718-398-2731, 3/4 mile east from the 8.00 mile mark

Brewing under the Greenpoint name since 2003 (primarily contract-based for the Heartland brewpub family in Manhattan), they’ve expanded their own growing portfolio of brands. While they may be closed Sundays, be sure to keep an eye open for their popular IPA at The Gate and St. Gowanus at Waterfront Ale House.

>> Barcade, Union Avenue and Ainslie Street, 718-302-6464, 3/4 mile east from the 11.00 mile mark

Open Sundays from 2:00 p.m. - Happy Hour lasts all the way until 8 p.m. which gives you plenty of time to rehydrate with a few beers while playing a few vintage arcade games.

>> Spuyten Duyvil, Metropolitan Avenue and Havemeyer Street, 718-963-4140, 1/4 mile east from the 11.50 mile mark

Open Sundays from 1:00 p.m. - The venerable Spuyten Duyvil is a must-stop for many beer travelers passing through NYC. Stop in to discover why. As their name suggests, Spuyten Duyvil serves up one of the largest selections of Belgian beer in New York City. They also carry a good amount of German, Scandanavian, Italian, and other fine European brews.

>> d.b.a Brooklyn, 7th and Berry streets, 718-218-6006, one block west from the 11.50 mile mark

Open Sundays from 1:00 p.m. - Complimentary bagels and lox are served every Sunday afternoon until they run out. A Brooklyn Cuvee Noir, a Rodenbach Grand Cru, or a Fuller’s ESB might make a nice brunch companion as well.

>> Mugs Alehouse, Bedford Avenue and 10th Street, 718-486-8232, on the course at the 11.75 mile mark

Open Sundays from 11:00 a.m. - Brunch is served on Sundays which means a fine time for some grub and a fine beer from near and far.

>> Brooklyn Brewery, 11th Street and Wythe Avenue, 718-486-7422, two blocks west from the 11.75 mile mark

Open Sundays for tours on the hour from 1 p.m to 4 p.m. - After seeing the runners pass by, an efficient beer hunter (paired with a slightly slower-than-average runner) could possibly stop in at a local watering hole for a bite to eat and a beer before taking a tour of Brooklyn Brewery at 1 p.m. and then quickly hopping a subway train back to Manhattan to watch their runner finish in Central Park. Think it can be done? Give it a try!

Queens (13.0-16.0), the course enters via the Pulaski Bridge

The good beer in Queens is found farther north, past where the course veers across the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan. Contact me if you’d like a recommendation, but otherwise you would be well-advised to skip Queens during the NYC Marathon if you hope to later catch up with your runner.

Manhattan (16.0-20.0), the course enters via the Queensboro Bridge (or 59th Street Bridge, if you prefer)

Runners are “feeling groovy” as they enter in to Manhattan and one of the largest crowd concentrations of anywhere along the course. There are a few options worth pointing out within walking distance of the course.

>> Grand Central Station Oyster Bar, 44th Street and Park Avenue, 212-490-6650, 1 mile south from the 16.00 mile mark

Open Sundays from 11:30 a.m. - The legendary subterranean restaurant at Grand Central Station will satisfy you with a decent beer from Blue Point (Long Island) to Chimay (Belgium), an interesting wine list if you are so-inclined, and more seafood than you can shake a fishing net at. While you may not have a chance to stop here on race day, you might consider it if you happen to be arriving on Saturday.

>> David Copperfield’s, 212-734-6152, 74th Street and York Avenue, 1 block east from the 17 mile mark

Open Sundays from 4:00 p.m. - You may not have a chance to stop here during the race, but if you do stop later in the day at this sister establishment to the East Village’s Hop Devil Grill, you will want to be sure to dig into their pub grub like burgers, fajitas, and salads while tossing back an Ommegang Abbey Ale or a Southampton Double White.

>> Cafe d’Alsace, 88th Street and 2nd Avenue, 212-722-5133, 1 block west of course from the 17.75 mile mark

Open Sundays from 9:00 a.m. - Brunch is served on Sundays until 4:00 p.m. Stop in to enjoy a glass of beer from just about anywhere in the world you can imagine. If you have time for food, you might be happy to check out their menu with plenty of French and German influence.

Bronx (20.0-21.0), the course enters via the Willis Avenue Bridge

More than the runners who need your support in the most sparsely-viewed section of the course, the Bronx needs an introduction to better beer. To date, no one has really taken up the challenge. Pay attention to your runner(s) and then move along.

Manhattan (21.0-26.2), the course enters via the Madison Avenue Bridge

You don’t want to take the chance of missing your runner re-enter Manhattan and come down the home stretch in to Central Park. So, pick a spot on the east side of the park, watch the mayhem, scream like crazy, and shed a tear. Then, gather up your runner(s) and head somewhere for a post-race meal and beer.

You’ve both earned it for trekking through the Big Apple—well, maybe the runners earned it a little more than you did, but you can all share your experiences over a beer at one of the following better beer spots in midtown Manhattan.

Listed here are locations closest to the main transportation hubs of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Penn Station, and Grand Central Station.

>> Heartland, 212-563-3433, 34th Street and 5th Avenue

Open Sundays from 11:00 a.m. - There will soon be eight HB locations across NYC. For now, duck into the location at the base of the Empire State Building just a short walk from Penn Station and enjoy generous portions of food along with a fine glass of Indiana Pale Ale. If you’re thirsting for something with a bit more heft, try the always excellent Farmer Jon’s Oatmeal Stout.

>> Ginger Man, 212-532-3740, 36th Street and Madison Avenue

Open Sundays at 12:30 p.m. - The Ginger Man has a storied history which began in Houston, Tex. and continues with a location on 36th street. For many beer lovers, this is always a must-stop when visiting Manhattan. If you do, you won’t find a full meal here, but a post-marathon snack of a stuffed potato, a bowl of soup, and an interesting glass of beer from their constantly rotating beer menu should do you just fine.

>> Rattle ‘n’ Hum, 212-481-1586, 33rd Street and Madison Avenue

Open Sundays at 11:00 a.m. - You may not want a lot of dairy after the race, so try to contain yourself when looking at RNH’s massive list of cheeses that pair quite excellently with the stellar list of beers. In just a couple of years, RNH has vaulted itself high up the list of first-rate Manhattan beer bars.

>> Stout, 212-629-6191, 33rd Street and 7th Avenue

Open Sundays at 11:30 a.m. - Located just minutes from Penn Station, Stout offers up an English pub experience complete with sports on the televisions, English ales, and live music at night. For your post-race meal, try some Chicken Pot Pie with a glass of Belhaven Ale from Scotland or a pull of whatever smooth cask-conditioned ale is currently on tap.

>> Whole Foods, 212-924-5969, 24th Street and 7th Avenue

Open Sundays at 8:00 a.m. - If you don’t have the time for a sit down meal after the marathon and need to get directly to a train or your car, you may wish to take some food and beer along for the ride. Whole Foods in Manhattan offers a few locations from which to do just that. Closest to the train stations with a stellar selection of both local and imported bottled beers is the Chelsea location on 7th avenue. Try taking home some bottles from local breweries like Sixpoint, Brooklyn, and Captain Lawrence, just to name a few. The chain also has locations with great beer selections at Union Square (on 14th street) and The Bowery (on Houston Street). The Bowery location will fill growlers of beer to go as well.

Enjoy the meal, the beer, the trip home, and the rest. You have earned it!


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Bryan Kolesar

Bryan Kolesar has been tracking down great beer for over twenty years. From the most hard-to-find delicately balanced low alcohol beer to the big monsters weighing in at over 10% ABV, he has yet to find a style that does not have a story to tell and a taste to share. Though, when pushed, Kolesar has historically staked a claim to the Saison style as one of the most versatile and his favorite.

In 2005, Bryan co-founded The Brew Lounge blog/website as a canvas to illustrate the best of the craft brewing industry and to document his own travels within it. Though he has lived in Philadelphia and is currently headquartered in the city's western suburbs, Kolesar shares a wealth of information and images that he collects from his travels around the world and some of the best beers that he has tasted along the way.

In 2010, Kolesar came aboard the Communities section of The Washington Times to contribute stories from across the craft brewing industry as it continues more than ever its explosive growth amongst increasingly more of the mainstream alcohol-consuming public. 

While the beer - its tastes, aromas, and incredible pairing opportunities with food - is often the beginning of a story, he often finds it more interesting to dive into the stories behind the people, places, and events associated with the final product. 

Locally around Philadelphia, he has been named a Beer Writer of the Year finalist multiple times, hosted beer/running events during each annual Philly Beer Week, served as a Philly Beer Geek judge, paneled local beers for submission into the Great American Beer Festival competition, judged beer and food competitions, been featured in local publications chronicling the beer scene, and been named the "Best Beer Guy" of 2008. 

In addition to his beer-y pursuits, Kolesar works a professional career in the business world by day and dabbles in distance running, cooking, homebrewing, gardening, photography, and is a staunch advocate for animal rescue/adoption. He lives with his wife, Patty, of fifteen years and has been a long time, mostly suffering, supporter of local Philadelphia sports.

Contact Bryan Kolesar

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