Bark Ale

bark aleThe Bark and beer deal was sealed one warm spring afternoon on a Red Hook rooftop patio, high over the Liberty Heights Tap Room and Sixpoint Craft Ales, which brews in the back of the building. That’s when chefs Joshua Sharkey (formerly of Café Grey) and Brendan Gillis (formerly of Franny’s) made a trip to the tiny brewery kitchen. Sharkey and Gillis were in the final stages of planning Bark, their high-end hot doggery, which is now brand-new to the corner of Flatbush and Sixth Avenue. The pair wanted to serve a draft beer with their sustainably sourced dogs, of course, but not just any ordinary, laissez-faire lager. Like their all-beef, natural casing, custom-made franks, which are crafted in Rochester by an Austrian butcher—they wanted a quaff made with attention to every quirk.

So, as the sun set on the Brooklyn waterfront, the boys of Bark cooked up their meaty links—they’re griddled, basted in seasoned butter and lard, then served in a buttered split-top bun with housemade condiments, including sweet pickles, smothered onions, slaw and tomato relish—for the boys of Sixpoint, who naturally provided the brews. Well, everyone but brewmaster Shane Welch that is, who, as a vegetarian, had to make do with a Bark dog made of tofu.

The goal of the gustatory trade-off was to suss out some new Bark-specific suds made just for the shop by Sixpoint: It had to be refreshing, thirst-quenching, something even a non-beer geek would love to put back with a frank on a hot summer day, but also something the brewery could be proud of. Add to that, of course, the pairing nightmare of a hot dog, which is fatty and salty (the dog), sweet (the bun) and sour (the condiments) all at the same time. “Part of the fun for us,” says Welch, who shared his own Bark dog with a real one named Barley, “is challenging ourselves as brewers.”

The result of this particular challenge? Like Nathan’s Famous, which sells Killian’s from paper cups, this wiener stand has opted for a Red Ale, new to Sixpoint and sold only at Bark in recyclable red plastic cups or by the growler. Malty, not overly hopped and just 51∕2 percent alcohol by volume, it’s drinkable, it’s delicious, and it won’t overpower what Bark is best at, which means that this summer every dog—even those made of tofu—will have their day.

Editor’s note:  Liberty Heights Tap Room and Cafe Grey have closed.