For all the new bars that have opened up in Bushwick in the past year or so, the craft beer scene has remained woefully underrepresented. That changed this weekend when Jorge Arias opened The Sampler just steps off the Jefferson L.
Arias, owner of the Wine Hut in SoHo, lived in Bushwick for years with a goal of opening up a shop dedicated to his first love. “We were going to open a wine bar,” he told Bedford + Bowery, “but then Hana opened.” Inspired by the beer list at 124 Rabbit Club, he set his sights on creating a tasteful craft beer spot with custom-built shelves, handmade tables, and a six-seater bar rescued from a now-defunct grocery in the neighborhood. But the major draw here is the brews.
The Sampler boasts 100 bottles you can try in the shop for a $1 corkage fee. You can snag a growler and take it home ($6 for the bottle, around $20 for the fill), or for $8, you can get a four-beer flight from the 18-tap draught line with both familiar names (Left Hand, Kelso), and the sort of challenging, lesser seen brews you might find over at Torst, including Evil Twin, Bayou Teche, and Stillwater. There’s also an emphasis on northeast and New York brewers, like Bronx Brewery, Alphabet City Brewing Company, and Astoria’s Single Cut.
To celebrate the shop’s opening Saturday, Arias and his general manager Rafael Martinez poured samples of Westbrook’s Mexican Cake. A limited edition imperial stout from South Carolina that tips the scales at 10.5% ABV, it looks like engine oil in the glass, and pours out with a huge, dark head. This big beer is aged on cocoa nibs, vanilla, cinnamon, and fresh habanero peppers, which lends it an interesting sweet and spicy flavor profile.
The staff was also serving tiny handmade empanadas with chicken and bacalao. Arias plans a monthly rotating menu, featuring food from Brazil, Peru, Mexico, and his native Ecuador, along with brewing classes and regular tastings.
The Sampler will open at noon to accommodate the laptop crowd (“musicians, actors, and other artists are welcome,” said Martinez) and will close at 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends.
THE SAMPLER’S CURRENT FAVORITES
Marble/Emelisse “Earl Grey IPA”
“Full bodied IPA with a few additions of Earl Grey tea in the fermenting stage. Lightly bitter with honeyed body.”
“An American farmhouse ale brewed with a spelt/rye combination and a spicy blend of heather, hassock and honeysuckle. Rustic and balanced.”
Beachwood “Full Malted Jacket”
“Scottish ale brewed with heirloom barley, super rich and caramely. Great fresh ale that can be cellared for a different experience.”
“Imperial stout brewed with maple syrup, a robust and complex take on a high gravity imperial stout. Strong and rich.”
The Sampler, 234 Starr St., nr. Wyckoff Ave.; (718) 484-3560