If you get caught staring, dumbfounded, at the list of beers at the recently opened 4th Avenue Pub, there’s good reason. There are 24 beers on tap, with another 31 bottles, and many of them are unique picks not usually seen around the area. If this happens, just ask the bartender. Without speaking he’ll quickly cock his body to the side and point to a large poster of the Belgium beer, Delirium Tremens, which reads “The greatest beer in the world.” Get it. It’s very good. If your feeling more like a bottled or canned beer, ask him once again. “This is the greatest beer you can buy in a can," he’ll say as he hands you a Dale’s Pale Ale. It, also, is very good.
Though it's not hard for all these grand statements to sound more like hyperbole than the honest drunk's truth. And that probably has less to do with the beer and more with the surroundings. The exposed brick seems like a nice touch, until you notice it’s uneven. And their idea of decoration is to hang a few beer signs up every 15 feet. The back lot is big, but nearly empty. They have free popcorn, but it’s bland. They have Ms. Pac-Man, but the controller is so old you have to whack it real hard to move up.
Something of the essence of these fine beers is lost in the details, even if the bartender obviously cares about what he's doing. He probably just wishes he could serve more. When we were there there were total of four people inside. A few people came in and asked for directions, and he tried his best to get them to stay, but they just smiled and left very quickly. As we sat on the couch, he played a game of Ms. Pac-man, organized the benches, rubbed down the bar, went out back, reorganized the benches, and then finally stood outside, leaning on the door frame, staring out into the distance with a look that can only be described as longing.
Soon we noticed that his glare was not out scanning for answers in the unknown night, but only to the bar across the street, The Cherry Tree, where a steady stream of people poured in the doors. Did he wish he was there? Was it contempt for all those people going into an awful bar while his, with 24 taps, sat empty? We decided to find out.
We walked into the Cherry Tree to the hum of dozens of couples lounging over a long beautiful bar. The beer selection was written neatly on boards above the liquors, offering many interesting drafts. What looked like an enormous mirror in the back was actually a window that peered out on a gorgeous multi-layered patio. A pizza oven stood in the back, while in the middle they were roasting a whole pig. People sat in little chairs circled around a large tree, while a couple played chess with pieces the size of small dogs. Little hideaways lined the left side, offering a candle-lit retreat. When we went in to get a beer we noticed the same sign for Delirium Tremens, the “world’s greatest beer”, and it sold for dollar less than across the street.
Yet, for some reason we felt guilty as we left, wondering whether the bartender across the street was staring out to the place where all the people wanted to go, as he tried to court another person into the bar who’d really rather just be on their way.
4th Avenue Pub
76 4th Avenue
Between Bergen and St. Marks Place
The Cherry Tree
65 4th Avenue