In an unsuspecting facade on a quiet Brooklyn street, 61 Local is an understated spot with huge potential.
"Local" has become a buzz word lately. In some cases, it’s been overused. Yes, the locavore movement has certainly made us more aware of the source of our food, but when it comes to craft beer, many bars are far too tempted to bring in far-off, rare beers for the sake of attention. 61 Local (61 Bergen St., at Smith St., Carroll Gardens), on the other hand, may be one spot to live up to its moniker.
You’ll notice the local focus from the second you walk in. A huge map on the wall behind the bar puts Brooklyn in the forefront, and only spans as far north as Vermont and as far south as Pennsylvania. All of the beer they serve comes from our region, and most of it stays even more local than that.
Fourteen taps feed into the bar, featuring brews from local breweries like Sixpoint, Barrier, Kelso, and Ramstein, along with locally-made kombucha, and wine on tap from Red Hook Winery. It’s all reasonably priced ($4-7) for a 12 or 16-ounce pour. The food follows the same pattern: fresh-baked bread, cheese and cured meat plates ($6-13) focus on locally-sourced products, including Dickson’s Farmstand and Brooklyn Cured, and regional cheeses from Vermont’s Spring Brook Farm and Ploughgate Creamery.
You might notice that Sixpoint Craft Ales is front-and-center on the beer menu, and that’s with good reason: bar owner Dave Liatti did engineering work with Sixpoint, and during the opening week, Sixpoint brewer Ian McConnell was behind the bar serving up the beers he had a hand in.
While still in its soft opening and not yet complete (a full grand opening will take place in mid-February), our first impression of the space is that it’ll live up to the “public house” atmosphere that its creator intended. There’s exposed brick, reclaimed wood floors, big picnic tables made with scrap metal, and glass carboys used as light fixtures (a nice touch that beer geeks and homebrewers will appreciate). The high ceilings make the space feel a bit empty, but it’ll also keep it from feeling too crowded when it is. In the bar area, two big communal tables will be great for congregating and socializing, and the long wood bar leaves plenty of space for ordering a drink. In the more cozy-looking back, a now-empty space with lower ceilings will soon house some couches.
With its communal vibe, curated beer selection, and a focus on celebrating the region’s great beverages, 61 Local has the potential to become one of Brooklyn’s great beer bars. It’s great to know where the beers you’re consuming come from. It’s even better knowing they’ve come from right down the street.