East Village’s educational beer joint hopes wine is next on tap

David Hitchner, a co-owner of ABC Beer Co., says that a new wine license will help expand his business’s “educational clout.”  Photo by SAM SPOKONY

David Hitchner, a co-owner of ABC Beer Co., says that a new wine license will help expand his business’s “educational clout.” Photo by SAM SPOKONY

BY SAM SPOKONY  |  One of Downtown’s hottest craft beer purveyors is hoping to liven up the mix by adding wine to both its menu and its drink-friendly educational programming.

A year after recovering from the impact of Hurricane Sandy flooding that submerged parts of the East Village, the owners of ABC Beer Co. — at 96 Avenue C, near E. Seventh St. — are now planning to offer new classes in which bartenders and customers can discuss pairings of both beers and wines with cheeses or other foods.

“Getting a wine license will definitely allow us to expand our educational clout a bit,” said David Hitchner, a co-owner. “And from a business standpoint, we just want to be able to offer some more options to people who come here.”

Hitchner, an East Village resident, is no stranger to fermented grapes. He’s also a co-owner of ABC Wine Co., at 100 Avenue C, and also In Vino, a wine-centric restaurant on E. Fourth St., between Avenues A and B.

ABC Wine Co. offers both wine and liquor, as well as free tastings on Thursdays and Fridays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Since it opened in May 2012 — and barring those tumultuous post-Sandy months — ABC Beer Co. has become a prime local watering hole. It boasts around 350 craft beer varieties that cater to both casual and hardcore brew lovers, while also offering a selection of meats and cheeses.

Now, ABC Beer Co. representatives will go to Community Board 3’s State Liquor Authority Committee on Dec. 9 to request support for their application for an upgrade to a beer and wine license.

Hitchner explained that he and business partner Zach Mack plan to start slowly with the Beer Co.’s alcohol expansion, by offering one house and one premium variety of both red and white wines, as well as a sparkling option and possibly a New York State wine.

The Beer Co. currently offers classes — generally once a month, at about $40 per ticket and 90 minutes long — in which customers can learn more (and taste more) about the fundamental differences between various types of beer, as well as classroom-type discussions in which certain beers are paired with cheeses.

With wine on tap, Hitchner said their educational programming would benefit by allowing customers to learn about the differences between beer and wine pairings — and why wine and cheese may not always be the most optimal match.

“The French drink wine and the French eat cheese, so most people assume that it’s a good pairing, but that’s generally not the case,” said Hitchner. “So it’ll be fun to try matching some cheeses with a beer and with a wine, to see what people really think about it, and allow them to talk about why they think that.”

And with some experience of the stresses of Community Board S.L.A. applications already behind him, Hitchner also noted that he has no plans of trying to get a full liquor license at ABC Beer Co.

“We’re not slow-playing the wine alteration just to try to get liquor in here two years from now,” he said, laughing. “We have a really good crowd of people who come here, we’re a neighborhood place, and we don’t need to have liquor to keep that going.”

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