Having this blog was sort of something I stumbled into. I wasn’t really planning on having a past time that involved writing, but somewhere between “I need a hobby,” and “I like beer,” well, here we are! This happening upon has now sort of become a theme as most of the dive bars I make my way to literally appear out of the blue when exploring new areas of the city. I think to myself, “hmm, that place seems
utterly terrifying dimly lit and unkempt, I should go there and try a beer.” And that’s literally how the magic happens, folks.
It was in this same manner that I was wandering the West Village with two friends this winter after trying out a dive bar recommended to me earlier, when I saw a cute little bottle shop, Carmine Street Beers, conveniently located on – you guessed it – Carmine Street. We all stopped in since I was in search of beer-spiration for my next blog post (you can read what I came up with here). Maybe it was fate, or maybe I was just lucky, but I seemed to walk into Carmine Street Beers at the perfect time, as they had recently undergone a renovation in which they added a bar to their setup. Fast forward to this past weekend when I got to revisit this neighborhood gem, and sit down with the operations manager, Shane.
Sunday afternoon was the perfect day to unwind, throw back a few excellent craft beers, and discuss our respective passion projects. We started from the beginning as Shane explained to me how he had come to where he is with running Carmine Street Beers. His father had been somewhat disappointed in the beer selection available in the West Village, and wanted to open a bottle shop. But being more of a Vino than a Cicerone, he entrusted Shane to run it. So no, Shane didn’t choose the Beer life, the Beer life chose him (Sorry, I had to?). In August of 2013 Carmine Street Beers opened it’s doors, but as strictly a bottle shop. It wasn’t until this past February that the bar was added to make it a taproom as well.
Shane told me he envisions Carmine Street Beers as the local bar where you can sit down, relax, and have a conversation in. It’s not the place to go out drinking, and that was never it’s intended purpose, made even more clear with the 10pm close time on most days. In layman’s terms he illustrated it as a “hobby shop that just happens to have craft beer.” I’m picking up what you’re putting down, Shane.
Carmine Street Beers may also stand out to some beer-connoisseurs for their all-inclusiveness. We talked about how they carry everything from the big macro-breweries all the way down to the smaller niche guys. Shane went on to note that in the beginning (pre-bar), a lot of the shop’s customers were just breaking into the craft beer world, so having the more familiar brands helped them to feel comfortable, and what was typically purchased. As time went on though, he was able to make more adventurous recommendations to his regulars based off of their pre-established tastes. This evolution was taken one step further with the addition of the taps. Now that more and more of his customers are coming in search of craft beer, his tap list has become more elevated as well.
Later on in our conversation I commented that I was still very new and very much still learning about the ins and outs of craft beer. Shane admitted to me that even after almost four years in the business, he still feels that same way. He said that when it comes to ordering the kegs, hosting events, and even recommending beers, its all a learning process. And while he may be one of the youngest in the industry, the new kid on the block is certainly holding his own. It seems that falling head first into your passion isn’t an isolated incident after all. In fact, it might be the best way to find out what you’re good, if not great at. I sincerely hope that the next time you’re in need of a few beers to-go, or a quiet spot to catch up over a brew or two, you head straight to the West Village to check out Carmine Street Beers. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
*Bonus: When asked what his “desert island” beer would be, his response was “All Day IPA.” I figured many of you were curious. You’re welcome.
Carmine Street Beers
52 A Carmine Street
New York, NY 10014
Mon-Sat 11:30am – 10pm
Sun 12pm – 8pm
Go follow their instagram @carminestreetbeers