628 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215 (718) 499-0026
Getting There: D, N, R to Prospect Ave
Blog: Eagle Provisions
The beer movement is constantly growing and New York is at the forefront of this. The craze is so intense that the city is also home to some of the best micro breweries in the country, namely the Brooklyn and Sixpoint breweries. Even popular dive bars known for only serving Budweiser, now seem to have at least one tap of craft beer. New Yorkers are beer drinkers, be it foreign or domestic- we just can’t get enough of the fizzy stuff. And no one knows that better than Eagle Provisions located in the South Park Slope section of Brooklyn.
Located on the corner of 18th Street and 5th, Eagle Provisions is a great look at the old school Brooklyn, which is rapidly becoming gentrified. The store itself has been in existence for seventy-five years when it was first called White Eagle. The store changed hands for the last time in December of 1979, when it was taken over by John Zawisny and his family. This Polish style market has so much to offer, from a wide selection of groceries to great cuts of meat. The great thing is that Eagle Provisions is truly a family affair. When I visited the store, members of the Zawisny family were hard at work with big smiles on their faces.
Ten years ago, John decided the store needed something new. Something needed to be added to really change the dynamic of the store up. Enter the beer. At first it started modestly with a few different varieties, which sold quite well. Zawisny did not want to stop there, and soon Eagle Provisions was the home to 1,000 different beers from around the world. That number should be impressive to any loyal beer drinker. Now in 2011 Eagle Provisions is proud to house over 2,000 different varieties of beer both foreign and domestic.
The massive selection of different brews may appear intimidating to someone who enters the store for the first time. But fear not there is someone to help you through the vast selection of ales. Zawisny has Margaret, a long time employee as his onsite beer manager who runs this beer superstore with a keen eye. They even have a sign in front of the store that implores you to ask Margaret if you need any help. During my visit to Eagle Provisions, for this piece I told myself that I would not leave the store empty handed. How could I go without purchasing some beer?
Since Eagle Provisions is a Polish market, I had to sample something from that nation. While I was chatting with Margaret, I mentioned that I wanted a Polish beer that I had never heard of before. She suggested Zywiec, which happens to be the most popular beer sold in Poland and is a Euro styled pale ale. They sell it in both bottles and cans. I went for the latter since it was sold in a four pack, with each can having 16oz. The price was a great value, and the beer has a great easy-drinking quality to it. Margaret knows her stuff, and going forward I will make sure to go to her for beer advice.
Eagle Provisions is extremely thorough to make sure they have all of their ales organized just so. When you enter the store this is evident, as the front shelf is filled with all the seasonal brews they want to feature. This really helped when I visited in the fall. I am an unabashed lover of pumpkin beer. There is something about it that is just perfect when the weather starts to get colder. Eagle had this entire shelf filled with pumpkins that I had never heard of before. It was like going to Graceland. This strict organization does not end there as the store also has all of their brew categorized by state and country as well. This is a great way to learn where your beer comes from, while learning how each region implements their own distinct touch.
Finally it appears, because of the blogs and through word of mouth, Eagle Provisions is getting the attention that they deserve. They are a true beer store and people have been known to travel here from as far as Maryland. Speaking of the internet, Eagle is even on Twitter, where they provide daily updates as to what beers they have in house. It is great to see a family business who has been an ever changing neighborhood thrive. If you love beer, or even just like it, you need to check out Eagle Provisions. But be prepared to spend a lot of time, because you will have over 2,000 choices to make. Oh, and don’t forget to say hi to Margaret!
- Alan Smithee