297 Ninth Street, Park Slope
Does Park Slope need another craft-beer bar? In the last several years, the neighborhood has become a beer geek’s haven: many of its bars and restaurants fill growlers, and it has its own destination bottle shop (Bierkraft), fancy tasting room (Beer Table), and homebrew-supplies stores (Brooklyn Homebrew, Brooklyn Brew Shop). It would seem the only other thing Park Slope needed was for the owners of Bar Great Harry and Mission Dolores to open yet another bar. Enter the Owl Farm. Opened in June in the old Harry Boland’s space, the spot trumps its predecessors (and most any bar in the area) with 30 draft lines, including two cask lines. But, aside from this advantage, the Owl Farm has yet to harness its full geeking-out potential.
With a sigh, a bored yet upbeat bartender told me that he’ll crank just one draft line—lately, Brooklyn Brewery’s Oktoberfest—over the course of a night rather than work through all the tap handles like a one-man bell choir. That’s a shame, because the Owl Farm brings in some of the most limited-run specialty beers from local breweries and those from afar. Sometimes—gasp!—a keg may take almost a month to kick, whereas in an ideal (i.e. beer-appreciating) world, the taps would rotate out after just days. Rare offerings on a recent evening included a slightly hopped cider from Wandering Star, crisp enough for summer but appropriately autumny in flavor; a single-hop IPA varietal from Bear Republic called Premiant Rebellion; Radius, a saison sold only in Brooklyn from Brooklyn Brewery; and Sixpoint’s Mad Scientists Series #11: Seispunto Especial. The casks held Green Flash Hop Head Red and Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, “a killer high-octane IPA from Clipper City Brewing,” according to the notes on the geeked-out menu. Narragansett and Yuengling ($4 a pint) are always on draft for the less adventurous. There are also well drinks, shot-and-beer combos, and a couple of house wines for unwitting friends tagging along.
The bar has a couple of televisions showing football, and pinball machines in a table-strewn back seating area. It’s bigger than Bar Great Harry but not much more so than 4th Avenue Pub. The walls are newly adorned with owl illustrations by local cartoonist Steven Weinberg (who tagged up the walls of Mission Dolores as well). It’s dark and rather grim inside otherwise, with the bare-essential stock of dark-wood bar stools, tables and chairs.
According to a sign, the bar will host events in the coming months, including brewery tap-takeovers, style-focused nights (such as Imperial Stouts and “gypsy brewers” night—you’d have to speak beer-geek to know what that means), and trivia. My bartender offered an impromptu quiz of his own while I was tasting samples to decide on my pint: “Guess which one this is,” he said, shoving another small glass my way. I’m proud to say I picked it out from the 30 options: Barrier Brewing’s limited-run wedding tribute beer with a hint of chili, “Hot Burning Love.” If you’re a beer geek, basically, go to this place to feel good about yourself.
But maybe there’s also an inner geek in all of us, just waiting to get out. “This is the best beer I’ve ever tasted!” a woman at the bar slurred to her group of friends about a pint she was drinking. “I’m really good at tasting things!”
Photo Jessica Nash