You don't have to leave New York City to get a cold draft from the city where it's brewed - there are several local breweries, and even wineries, that open their doors to the public, with some cool events to boot.
While formed over 20 years ago, since 1996, Brooklyn Brewery has been making their signature lager in its hometown borough. From a nondescript facility in Williamsburg, it brews its core brands, including Brooklyn Lager and Brooklyn Pilsner, seasonal offerings (right now, Oktoberfest and Post Road Pumpkin Ale. Yum.), among other specialty items.
Want to try one? The brewery is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 pm, and offers a laid-back atmosphere where you can hang out for a few hours, get some beers and order some food from local restaurants to be delivered. For a diversion, free 20-minute tours of the facility from 1 pm to 4 pm on the hour also give you a background on brewery and the beer-making process. No reservation required.
If you're looking for a view to go along with that beer, the Chelsea Brewing Company in Manhattan delivers. With its 12,000 square foot restaurant and microbrewery located behind a two-story wall of glass, enjoy a clear view of the marina on the Hudson River (time your visit to get there before sunset). With its location at Chelsea Piers, you can make a day of it and sling back a few after hitting some golf balls or bowling a game or two.
For a behind the scenes look at the 14-year-old microbrewery, Saturdays offer free tour, where you'll get samples and coupons for drinks after (as the tours are not consistent, call ahead at 212-336-6440 to find out when they are having them). Continue to get a taste for their beers - among their 20 brews are Checker cab Blonde Ale and Cherry Wheat - in the restaurant and at the bar, which also offers wine and liquor for those in the mood for something else. You can even sip back some whiskey with a stogie in their private cigar room.
Setting up shop in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn in early 2005, microbrewery Sixpoint Craft Ales have won fans for their rich stock of six brews, including their signature ale Sweet Action.
The brewery is closed to the public at the moment, as it renovates its 1,500 square foot brewery to add space to make more beer, but those looking to get a taste can expect Sixpoint to be open early next year. Check in on its website for the official word and say hi to the owners, who lead the tours, when you get there. Since the brewery doesn't bottle its beer, but rather sells it from kegs and at places like Biefkraft in Park Slope, it's the best place to have it.
In addition to breweries, the city also boasts several wineries, with Brooklyn Oenology in Greenpoint and Red Hook Winery, which make their own wine from grapes from Long Island, cropping up in the past year or two. Though the most accessible has to be City Winery, which not only lets you taste its whites and reds, but make them, too.
Harvesting grapes from all over the world, the winery makes their wine in its Soho facility, and as a barrel owner, you can stick with your own stock of wine from its start as a grape to its bottling, crushing the wine yourself and learning the process of fermenting along the way.
If you're more content to know your wine from that first swirl and smell, you can also cozy up to its classy wine bar and choose from among their 500 plus offerings, or get a feel at one of their frequent tastings. The bar/restaurant space also provides top music entertainment almost daily, with recent performers including Grammy award winners Blind Boys of Alabama, female folk darling Dar Williams and blues songstress Candye Kane. That should make their Sohovignon Blanc go down pretty smoothly.