61 Bergen St, Boerum Hill
Rating: 4 out of 5 L's
If you've had it with locavorism, don't even bother reading this review. This industrial-chic indoor beer garden serves local brews and food products made by local producers (say, Salvatore Bklyn ricotta toasts), often using local ingredients (that ricotta is made with milk from upstate). It's even decorated with the help of local artists. The area mapped out on the tall brick wall behind the bar—from New Jersey to New Hampshire—signifies where the bar's food and drink purveyors are based, and a big Brooklyn-shaped chalkboard in the center of the map lists what's on tap. The 14 beer selections are arranged in order of alcohol content, ranging from the crisp 4.8 percent Pennsylvania-brewed Troegs DreamWeaver Wheat to New York's own Captain Lawrence Xtra Gold, a smooth and fruity tripel with 10 percent ABV. A full-sized pint will run you $6 or $7, but there's also the option of getting a 12-ounce glass for a dollar less, or a 5-ounce tasting portion for 3 bucks.
A first glance inside the high-ceilinged 61 Local brings to mind a cleaned-up, yuppified version of Barcade—minus the videogames—but the bar's individuality is in the details. The handful of communal picnic tables are made of sleek bamboo and set with fresh irises or hyacinths. Trees made from artfully arranged slabs of found wood climb the tall brick walls. Sunlight streams down from the skylights on weekend afternoons. When the sun goes down and the kiddies go home, soft light is provided by carboy lamps (giant glass bottles stuffed with white Christmas lights) suspended over the bar, and wall sconces embroidered with whimsical images, like cupcakes and bicyclists. If the Etsy-fied light fixtures don't get you, the inventive and inexpensive food menu will. Like every other pseudo-beer garden in town, they've got brats (sourced from Williamsburg's Meat Hook, $7), but they've also got the unexpected and delicious Tide Is High sandwich ($7)—taramasalata (a creamy Greek spread made with fish roe) shmeared on ciabatta with salsa verde, sliced hardboiled egg, and sweet, crisp nori. The less adventurous eater might prefer the addictive sweet and salty peanuts ($2), the super-spicy horseradish pickles ($1) or the grilled ham, cheese and pickle relish sandwich, with mustard artfully squeezed into words or doodles on its ceramic plate ($7). Cute. With 61's good looks and winning personality, it seems that the neighborhood has a new local hero.