“When you spot the red insignia (pictured), you can rest assured that good beer resides there.”

During the last decade, New York has been witness to an explosion in the craft beer industry. As providers rush to meet the demand, The Good Beer Seal endeavors to separate the wheat from the chaff by identifying bars that serve quality craft beer and demonstrate a commitment to the community in which they do business. A Good Beer Seal Bar is independently owned and operated and has a unique sense of place; making it more than just another watering hole. A Good Beer Seal Bar is destination-worthy. In addition to offering at least 80% craft domestic/ special imported beers, a Good Beer Seal Bar engages its staff and guests in educational offerings regarding the history and originality of the beers it serves. A bar that earns a Good Beer Seal will be active in its local and global community through responsible stewardship and charitable actions. If The Good Beer Seal is on the door, good business practices, good atmosphere, and good beer is inside.

In 2012, the Good Beer Seal bar list reached 40 members from all five boroughs of New York City. As beer writer Chris Schonberger summed up at the Good Beer Seal Awards:

Looking at the cast of Good Beer Seal bars, it’s hard not to be convinced that NYC is making its mark as an elite beer town. The diversity and quality of these dedicated craft beer bars is really impressive.

These days, you can get a growler of great local beer at Duane Reade. That evolution is great, and it speaks to the growing demand for craft beer in the city. But it also means there’s a real need to keep raising the bar and to have an industry standard that sets the right tone. It’s not enough to have 20 taps if you’re not standing behind what you pour in a real way—this year, the writers’ committee of the “good beer seal” was really looking for places that demonstrate individuality and passion, and that foster a sense of community through events that drive a dialogue about craft beer.

“July good beer month” is a perfect example —a group of bar owners, brewers, enthusiasts and other beer-industry folks who seem to genuinely care about collective progress more than personal gain. It almost felt like an old-school town meeting, and it makes you remember that there was a time when taverns were community hubs where people got together to talk about real issues. I think a lot of the Good Beer Seal bars are cut from that cloth, which is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted in the current bar landscape of NYC. These spots not only set the standard for what good beer means today, but also foster the conversation about where it’s headed.

A lot of media coverage is predicated on what’s new and trendy, so it’s important to have a balance like the Good Beer Seal movement that awards places for being consistent and demonstrating a sustainable approach to craft beer.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Who founded the Good Beer Seal?

The Good Beer Seal was co-founded in 2009 by Jimmy Carbone (Jimmy’s No. 43), Ray Deter (RIP – former owner of d.b.a.), Ben & Mike Wiley (Bar Great Harry), Gary Gillis (Burp Castle/Standings), and Dave Brodrick (Blind Tiger).

Who is eligible for a Good Beer Seal?

Bars in the New York City area that are independently owned and operated are eligible for the Good Beer Seal.

How does one earn a Good Beer Seal?

Good Beer Seal Bars are committed to the presentation, promotion and enjoyment of good craft beer; seeking out the best beers from local, national and international producers. This commitment includes serving these beers the way brewers have intended, including proper glassware and temperature (within reason!). A good portion of a Good Beer Seal Bar’s beer should be via a draft beer/ cask ale program and draft lines should be properly maintained and cleaned.  Roughly 80% of the bar’s offerings should be craft domestic/ special imported beers. An active community presence is essential for a Good Beer Seal bar.

Who decides which bars get a Good Beer Seal?

The Good Beer Seal is awarded by a committee comprised of knowledgeable beer-lovers who are not, themselves, affiliated with any Good Beer Seal bar.

Are there any Good Beer Seal bars outside of New York City?

No. Not yet.

What does the Good Beer Seal actually DO?

Aside from identifying bars that serve good craft beer, The Good Beer Seal is active in promoting New York City as a destination for lovers of good beer. The defining event for the Good Beer Seal is July Good Beer Month, an annual, month-long festival, which celebrates local establishments, our communities and the Good Beer we serve. In addition, throughout the year The Good Beer Seal bars band together to support charitable organizations like Just Food, Slow Food NYC, the New Amsterdam Market and other organizations that promote sustainability, through fundraising events.

Why is The Good Beer Seal necessary?

The Good Beer Seal is interested in helping small business owners compete in a marketplace dominated by corporate-run establishments. Since its beginning, The Good Beer Seal has helped to focus media and public attention on independently owned and operated businesses through community events and charity partnerships.