From Coffins to Craft: How One Beer Bar Is Shaping the “New” Bushwick

Holidays are festive at Pine Box Rock Shop, when the Vegan Pop-Up Market comes to Bushwick.

What do veganism and craft beer have to do with one another? Well, at Pine Box Rock Shop (at 12 Gratten Street, Bushwick), they are wed into a unique fabric for a community bar that regularly hosts community events in a sprawling space that, yes, once upon a time was a casket factory.

Owners Jeff and Heather Rush are proud vegans who decided to open a craft beer bar that catered to those whose diet—including potent potables—eschews animal products. Many imbibers are simply unaware that many beer, wine and spirits (even the occasional soda) producers use emulsifiers that are made from animal products (everything from fish to beetles to tallow, in fact). Jeff and Heather wanted to create a welcoming space for others who would rather enjoy their drinks than dissect what’s in them.

And carnivores have little to worry about, with pop-up cafes taking place all the time at Pine Box Rock Shop. Frequent guest Bunna Cafe (which will be serving Ethopian goodness this Saturday, February 9th, from noon until 5 p.m.) could be a poster chef for vegan conversion (hint: you won’t miss the meat). In the weeks leading up to the holidays, Jeff and Heather opened their doors to an entire Vegan Marketplace.

Pine Box Rock Shop was awarded the Good Beer Seal at last July’s (2012) induction ceremony, and they have proudly hung their Seal at the bar. They bring the ethics of good bar stewardship to a neighborhood that is juggling old school Brooklyn ways with an influx of gentrification. As the neighborhood changes, the bar wants to be open to all in the community, not just the animal-free zone.

Don't like what's on the menu? That's okay, because the bar welcomes vegan food trucks outside the entrance.

While the Rushes aren’t looking to be political, but they certainly are serving a niche in the NYC market. There are plenty of vegan restaurants and many vegan-friendly bars, but their space appears to be the only strictly vegan bar in the city. They even make their own substitute spirits when a recipe calls for Bailey’s, for example (cream). Most of the neighborhood regulars who aren’t vegan don’t even notice that the place is meat-free.

The beer still tastes great!

For tips on how to drink the vegan way, visit Barnivore. Pine Box Rock Shop is open seven days, starting at 4 p.m. M-F and 2 p.m. on the weekend.

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