Dirck the Norseman
7 N. 15th Street, Greenpoint
Ed Raven, owner of renowned Greenpoint beer bar and bottle shop Brouwerij Lane, named his latest venture after a 17th-century Scandinavian shipbuilder who settled on 300 acres in what’s now Brooklyn. Dirck’s inspiration, though, seems more German than Norwegian. There are plenty of reasons to start throwing around the term biergarten: the abundance of classic Bavarian beers on offer, the long rows of communal tables that take up the whole back, and the open-air vibe provided by the huge garage doors that allow patrons to look out onto the street. But that would obscure the place’s most notable aspect: Dirck the Norseman is Brooklyn’s first combination bar, restaurant and brewery.
Behind a glass partition near the back of the room, you’ll see staring out at you some very shiny, very intimidating brewing equipment—giant tanks and fermenters and lots of other things you probably won’t be able to identify—used to produce primarily traditional European styles of beer: Wallabout Wit is a standard Belgian witbier heavy on cloves and spice and brewed with malts from Massachusetts; Helles Gate is an unfiltered German rauchbier with a pronounced smokey flavor brightened up by a hint of honey; and Das Schwarze Meer is a delicious and easy-drinking cross between a crisp, fruity kolsch and a chocolate-forward black lager known as a schwarzbier. One standout was Ash Street IPA, a 7.9 percent ABV hop bomb that serves as a clear reminder you’re still firmly planted here in the US. Another was Fisticuffs, an English-style mild ale that packs a crazy amount of flavor into an astoundingly low 2.9 percent ABV; it tastes of coffee and brown sugar and paired brilliantly with the pancakes on their brunch menu. Good news for those interested in sampling as many beers as possible: they’re all available in multiple sizes, including a half-pint for a perfectly reasonable $3.
So Dirck’s worth visiting for the beer program alone, but you might want to be careful about when you show up. At 3pm on a recent Saturday afternoon, the bar was pleasantly half-full. There were small groups talking quietly—two men with two small children, twentysomethings stopping in for a quick drink after going for a run along the nearby waterfront. By 5pm, though, it was uncomfortably packed, and the small, friendly staff seemed overwhelmed. This should come as no surprise: long gone are the days when you could open a unique and welcoming place in this neighborhood and expect it to go unnoticed. Meet some friends there for after-work drinks on a weeknight, or get there as early as you possibly can on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and commit to a long day of drinking. In that case, just remember to go with the Fisticuffs.