The newest bar on our trek, Greenwood Park is also the largest by a long shot. The South Slope spot opened last month in a converted auto garage with a full kitchen surrounded by an expansive, sun-splashed concrete patio. There are plenty of umbrella-shaded tables, three bocce courts, and a shipping container-turned-outdoor bar. About a third of the 24 draft lines are dedicated to local and regional craft beer. As a bonus for all the day drinkers out there, drafts are $3 until 7 p.m. during the week. Cash only.
With a dog- and kid-friendly attitude, a soundtrack that runs from heavy metal to dad rock, and a solid tap list backstopped by a selection of vintage bottles, the Gate is a Park Slope stalwart that's been supplying the neighborhood with craft beer since 1997. The porch is generally packed, but with the temperature just under 100°F, we had the run of the place. Looking for something lighter, we opted for Penn Kaiser Pils and Carton Brewing's Monkey Chased the Weasel, a Berliner Weisse-style sour ale with mulberries. The Gate doesn't serve food, but they have a huge binder of menus from neighborhood places that deliver.
A few blocks north of The Gate, Mission Dolores is another Brooklyn beer joint housed in an old auto garage (definitely a trend here). There's a selection of 20 taps and a cask—no bottles—of mostly U.S. craft beer that rotates daily, bolstered by a respectable lineup of bourbons. The courtyard out front is laid back and a great place to hang out with some tacos from Oaxaca Taqueria across the street. Need a break from beer? They make a mean Bloody Mary.
Fourth Avenue Pub
Beyond the comfortable, well-worn interior at Fourth Avenue Pub and down a flight of stairs is a shade-covered sunken backyard that's almost perfect for hiding out. It's very relaxed and, of all the Brooklyn bars we tried, Fourth Avenue Pub had the deepest and widest selection, with plenty of U.S. craft beers and a fair number of Europeans as well. And, hey, free popcorn.
Out of the way even for out-of-the-way Greenpoint, The Diamond may be the mellowest bar we know—especially now that they were forced to put the kibosh on their ladies' arm-wrestling nights (I'm not kidding). Dave Pollack and his crew have created the kind of laid back bar you don't want to tell people about for fear of ruining it: picnic tables out back, free rubber ring quoits and table shuffleboard to pass the time, and Reissdorf Kolsch always seems to be on tap. Good beer and good fun.
Drinking outside at Spuyten Duyvil reminds me of hanging out in a friend's backyard, but only if that friend has a crazy selection of rare and esoteric beers. They have six draft lines and an extensive bottle list that leans heavy on Belgians. Spuyten isn't cheap, but it's a worthwhile indulgence if you're looking to try something you might find in no more than a handful of other bars in the country, stored and served with care. They offer a small selection of cheese and charcuterie, but take your appetite across the street to Fette Sau.
Our other picks were beer first, food second (if at all), but Fette Sau manages to flip that focus and still boast an impressive tap list, with beers that can stand up to some serious meat. You'd do well with the Wandering Star Mild at Heart with a pound or so of St. Louis-style pork ribs. Drafts are served in sizes up to a gallon. Tables out front are limited, so get your food to go if they're full and head back over to Spuyten's backyard.