Beer Street: From Wantagh to Williamsburg

Nestled at the corner of Graham Avenue and Withers Street in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn lies Beer Street, a beer bar well-known for selling some of the best rotating beers on tap. The gentrification of much of Brooklyn somehow hasn’t hit this quiet section and has allowed it to retain the quaint neighborhood feel of yesteryear.

The bar is co-owned by former Wantagh resident, Josh Meckes, who took his appreciation for craft beer and created a thriving establishment that boasts proud beer nerds and beer enthusiasts as their loyal patrons. It is managed and co-owned by beer aficionado and popular bartender Cory Bonfiglio, who was snatched up by Meckes from his former place of work, Proletariat in Manhattan. Bonfiglio hails from Westbury and the pair, in part, credit their Long Island upbringing for their deep appreciation of buying local and have enjoyed seeing the New York brews that have been popping up over the past few years.

The bar is cozy and allows for exactly the type of atmosphere one may appreciate if part of the experience is a quest for knowledge on the beverages. The staff takes pleasure in speaking to their guests and sharing with them their vast knowledge and pride in the beers they’ve chosen to offer.

While Beer Street mainly focuses on local brews, they also carry a fairly extensive but well-curated bottle list that reaches beyond the local realm. Their taste in beer is far reaching and includes beer from all over the world. Such countries highlighted include Italy, Japan and Belgium, to name a few.

Beer Street’s patronage is made up of 65% local visitors, 35% beer travelers seeking refuge from mainstream beer overload, and 100% people who want a quiet atmosphere and the chance to speak with knowledgeable staff.

This Long Island-born-and-bred duo has created something quite special in this space. Growing up on the Island, Meckes remembers the beer and bar scene being pretty average when it came to being able to find interesting beers on tap. He was first exposed to the existence of craft beer while visiting Peculiar Pub located in the heart of Greenwich Village and he was in awe of the 100 or so craft, bottled beers available. And so there—and at Effin Gruven in Bellmore—he saw the world of craft beers open itself up to him.

“I remember going in and being amazed that they had so many beers between the taps and humongous bottle list. I wasn’t incredibly interested in beer then, other than the normal Budweisers and other generics, but would order the most obscure beers on the menu anyway, in part to see if they even actually had it, but also because I was curious what they were like. As it turns out, I realized, there’s a lot of great stuff out there,” he says.”

Beer Street first opened its doors in 2012 under previous ownership as a growler and bottle shop. In 2014 it made the transition into a bar and has been a popular watering hole ever since.

Meckes and Bonfiglio recognized the great breweries and gypsy brewers that were emerging in the surrounding boroughs and in upstate New York. No longer did craft beer have to be purchased from across state lines or even across the country. There is now an entire cartel of local New York brewers who share the same love and appreciation for craft beer. This truth is evident in the top-notch quality and variety of craft beers that make them so special and unique.

The bar has shifted its focus to reflect this local surge of industry and now boasts six or seven of their ten taps to serve only New York brews. The response has been wonderful and they have been voted one of Draft Magazine’s Top 100 Beer Bars in 2014 ,2015 and 2016. One of their favorite breweries is Long Island’s Barrier Brewing Company, located in Oceanside. More often than not, one can find one of its beers flowing from one of the coveted ten taps or some of their bottles sold on their shelves.

Beer Street is worth the drive into Brooklyn if simply to experience the local beer that is quickly making its name for itself within the industry. Beer Street, too, is creating its own niche and has plans to continue to grow and cultivate its esteem on the beverage all while sharing this pleasure with others.