SAN FRANCISCO SAW the original Mission Dolores open in 1776. This settlement, which is the oldest mission that’s still standing in California, sought to bring religion to an uncharted land. Brooklyn’s Mission Dolores has a similar charter. Housed in a converted auto shop, this bar seeks to bridge the gap between family-minded Park Slope and stilldeveloping Gowanus. It’s not the gospel being spread at the new outpost; with 20 taps and a focus on American craft labels, this spot’s holy water is beer.
And what a fitting space to worship the brew gods. The bar owners have left the industrial feel of the space intact. A hodgepodge of wooden tables lines the concrete floors, and large windows are shaped with metal that was repurposed from the former workshop. The unique layout lets the entire crowd enjoy the open air in warm weather. You enter through a small room with a few tables, and the bar in the back room is housed under a glass ceiling. The center of the space contains a true gem of outdoor drinking: a beer courtyard. If you score a table, you can soak up the sun at the center of the room as you indulge in one too many beers. On warm days, the folding windows and giant doors can be opened to the elements, giving all three rooms a blissful, summery vibe.
There’s more bliss to be had in the beer list, which runs from $4 to $8 a pint. The selection rotates daily, and even changes mid-shift as kegs run out and new ones are tapped. Domaine DuPage from Two Brothers Brewery is a light-style beer similar to those traditionally sipped in the French countryside, an airy appetizer to begin your liquid dinner. For your second round, try something more potent—you’ll know because alcohol content is noted on the constantly updated chalkboard. The Nectar Ales IPA provides a hoppy bit of buzz with its 6.8 percent IBV. The Captain Lawrence Kolsch is for fans of local brew; this New York label hits the spot with subtle notes of peach. Mission Dolores also has a wide selection of wheat beers, so skip the Allagash that you can find anywhere and try something like the smooth and nutty Ayinger Brau Weisse from Germany.
There is a full bar, and well drinks are two for $5 during their happy hour (nightly until 7), but those without a pint in their hand seem out of place. There was another group that also seemed sadly out of place on one packed Friday evening: women. The crowd was easily 90 percent male, and the Park Slope boys club vibe could have benefited from some beer-loving females. It’s one thing to rock out a masculine vibe in a former auto shop, it’s another to host a brew-soaked sausage party.
Much like the original mission in California, this one will take time to win converts. With the choice outdoor space, it’s only a matter of weeks before a more mixed crowd comes to waste away the summer afternoons here. On this strip of gas stations and tune-up shops, Dolores has already started to draw in the locals. Recently, a group of men sat at one of the courtyard tables, their fingers stained with grit and oil. This was one group that wasn’t wearing work shirts with nametags ironically. As they guzzled and guffawed along with scenesters from The Slope, it became clear that this beer-fueled mission will be a success.
>>MISSION DOLORES 249 4th Ave. (at Carroll St.), Brooklyn, 718-399-0099.