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Raising the bar: Brooklyn Brewery opens its new taproom

Brooklyn Daily
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Step by step: Visitors on the Small Batch Tour lounge on the taproom’s new stadium seating.
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Cheers: Dan Rafalin, who spearheaded the new taproom project, said he is especially excited to start using real glassware instead of plastic cups.
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Sample size: Small Batch Tours will end with beer samples in a new private room, which can be reserved for private parties on in the evenings and on weekends.
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Belly up to the bar: The taproom now features a u-shaped bar with stools that you can settle at.
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On sale: The renovated taproom now features an expanded store that sells glasses, t-shirts, and beer-to-go.

No more tokens!

The Brooklyn Brewery will open a new, improved taproom to the public this weekend, with more taps, added seating, and a private room for parties and tours. And when visitors settle at the new bar on June 15, they will be able to pay with cash or credit, instead of fetching a wooden token for the bartender. The streamlined payment system and new amenities aimed to make it a more friendly space for tourists and locals alike, said the brewery’s new head of hospitality.

“We created more of a bar environment,” said Dan Rafalin, the driving force behind the new taproom. “It still feels like the brewery, but it’s more accepting of the way people want to spend their time with beer.”

The new taproom features a wide, U-shaped bar, where visitors can pull up a stool and settle in. Drinkers will find 20 different beers on tap — now served in actual glasses instead of plastic cups. Most varieties will cost $6 for a 12-ounce pour, with a few rare or high-octane brews costing a little more. The selection includes brews that cannot be found outside the brewery, said Rafalin.

“We want to give people a reason to come back and see us,” he said.

Instead of an endless sea of picnic tables, the taproom now features several distinct seating options: at the bar, stadium seating along a curved wall, at a long rail beside the windows, a lounge area, common tables, and a room that can be reserved for private parties.

“We’ve created a few ‘vignettes’ within the space making it a more dynamic and fun drinking experience for everyone,” said Rafalin.

And acoustic panels behind the bar and floating above the space will soak up some of the noise that could make conversations in the old room hard to hear.

The brewery did not go too far with the renovation — it still has picnic tables and an industrial feel, with wire mesh wrapping the bar and wooden pallets lining the walls, said a spokeswoman.

“It still feels like the tasting room,” said Sam Itzkovitz. “Nobody really wanted to knock it all down and start fresh — we just wanted to update it a little.”

The renovations are not complete yet — still to come are murals to cover a white wall in the back, floor-to-ceiling windows that will hang open during warm weather, and coat hooks to go under the bar, according to Rafalin, but the space is ready for visitors. It will now be open seven days a week, opening at 5 pm during the week and at noon on weekends.

That token system — a remnant of the brewery laws that were in place when the taproom opened in 1996 — was a polarizing element that often caused backups as people waited in two lines, said Rafalin. But those who have invested in a large number of token will still be able to exchange them for beer, he promised.

“Don’t worry, we’ll honor any tokens that come through the door,” he said.

Brooklyn Brewery taproom (79 N. 11th St. between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, www.brooklynbrewery.com). Mon–Thu, 5–11 pm; Fri, 5 pm–midnight; Sat, noon–midnight; Sun, noon–8 pm.

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at broundy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507.
Updated 1:34 am, July 10, 2018
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