A couple weeks ago, Momofuku and Noma alum Daniel Burns and "gypsy brewer" Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø opened Tørst, a Greenpoint bar emphasizing its enormous list of hard-to-find and/or high-end brews. It's a beer bar for serious beer drinkers. Tørst's food options are limited for now to just meats and cheeses selected by Burns, but in a few months he's opening a full-scale tasting menu-focused restaurant in the back. As such, the early word is largely zoomed in on the beer options and the service:
The Good News: With a few exceptions (see below), the Yelper reviews are generally positive, like this one: "I spent quite a few hours at Torst on both Friday and Saturday of their opening weekend and I absolutely loved it. The attention to detail is stunning, particularly the color coding of the tap handles/ordering the beers from lightest to darkest. It's a visually gorgeous set up, without question. And what a tap list! While the bottle list is remarkable (and I drank my fair share of it), the tap list is what will keep me coming back. The breadth of unique, rare, and downright delicious beers immediately puts Torst in the uppermost reaches of the top echelon of East Coast beer bars. Given the talent backing this bar, I have faith they'll be able to keep it up." [Yelp]
The Less Good News: This Greenpoint-based Yelper is less pleased: "We almost walked right past the front, very modest and nondescript entrance which isn't uncommon in this part of brooklyn. The decor once you enter is very nice, cute tile work and marble mixed with patterned wood, but maybe a little too sterile for my liking. The bar itself looks a bit like a morgue with marble back bar and unlabeled wooden tap handles. Not even sure where the cash register is cause it all looked so sleek and barren. ... The prices were pretty high compared to the rest of the neighborhood more in line with a bar in manhattan but for a craft beer bar i wasn't surprised. The crowd in there was mostly young urban professional types probably ranging from 23-33 with a good male female mix. I doubt I'll go back to this bar, I'd rather go to Spritzenhaus who seems to have adapted to what the neighborhood really wants, and they have jenga!" [Yelp]
The Great News: Seems that few of the Eater commenters have gone, but here's a report: "This place is great. Haters can say all the stupid shit they want. And people who just want to get drunk can make fun of this place just like they made fun of Pegu and Death & Co. Nobody else has to listen to them." [Eater Comments]
The Incredible News: The beer geeks on Beer Advocate love it. For example: "Wow... First word that came to mind when walking into Torst after waiting outside in a snow storm for an hour on opening day! I would catch pnemonia to come back!! :)
This place was incredible all around. Atmosphere, selection, staff everything was perfect.
Not every day or even in a lifetime are you able to sit at a bar and order some of the worlds best and rarest lambics in one sitting. It was an experience I will never forget and I cannot wait to go back!" [Beer Advocate]
The Friendly News: One Foursquare tipster loves it, with one caveat: "Beer descriptions are non-existent, kinda weird considering their rarity. Be ready to ask the friendly bartenders for advice, or google them for reviews (beeradvocate, ratebeer, etc...)" He adds: "Lot's of good, rare stuff, both domestic and imported craft. A lot Evil Twin brews, and other stuff from gypsy brewers like Stillwater, which makes sense." [Foursquare]
The Harmonious News: The restaurant won't be up-and-running for months, but Daniel Burns is making charcuterie and snacks for the bar. Splash files one of the few reviews that mention those snacks: "After reincarnating our thirst with the savory meat platter, I tried another of Evil Twin's brews, this time the Bikini Beer, an IPA I found surprisingly easy to drink and not overly hoppy. Next came the cheese platter, served with more of that wonderful Danish bread, a Montgomery cheddar, Vermont Hooligan and German Alps bleu cheese. All three struck harmonious chords with both bread and beer, and the bleu cheese was pleasantly mild and creamy." That writer gave the bar a 4.86 out of 5 on Beer Advocate. [Splash]
The Proposterous News: The biggest (sometimes the only) complaint is about pricing. For example: "PREPOSTEROUSLY priced. I would probably give this place 4-5 stars if it were not so grotesquely expensive. $6-8 for 8oz glasses. $12-14 for 14oz glasses. Not even a full pint. That is nuts. Say whatever you want about how rare or exclusive the beer is.
I was REALLY excited about this place. I've heard all the hype and I respect the way the beer is treated, etc etc. The bartender was very nice and the place itself is beautiful! But $6 for an 8oz pour is beyond ridiculous. I will NOT go back until they cut their prices in half." [Yelp]
The Quality News: Returning to Foursquare: "If you like your beers, this is the place to go. 21 quality beers on tap is not too bad, honestly. Notice the beer tap handles get darker with the beers they serve. Quality design. Quality beers." [Foursquare]
The Hard to Criticize News: In an otherwise glowing review at Brew New York, there's this: "Honestly, we have to think hard to come up with some criticisms of Tørst. We suppose one is the design, but only because it looks too nice. The clean Scandinavian design, reclaimed wood, and long marble bar scream 'wine bar,' not beer bar, and that might turn some people off. The beer menus don't include descriptions, which can be frustrating for those who don't want to preoccupy the bartenders - who we should mention are more than helpful when posed with questions about the beers.
The most commonly-heard complaint, though? The draft beer names are a little tough to read against the mirrored backdrop of the bar. And if the look of the beer list is the worst complaint about Tørst, it's got a bright future ahead." [Brew NY]
The Stellar News: From a Grub Street comment thread: "this place is so stellar. awesome vibe, stunning decor. and, for an amateur beer drinker like myself, a considerable education. all thumbs up." [GS Comments]
· All Coverage of Tørst!