Barcade: A Land of Rainbows and Lemonade Springs. And Videogames. And Beer.

by Jason Roth on June 23, 2009

Barcade is a magical place that lives in the imagination of aging video game players who have learned to appreciate beer. It’s also a place in Williamsburg  where everyone seems to be completely ignorant of the two-dozen+ vintage video games surrounding them. Ok, guys, microbrews are great and everything. But we’re talking Asteroids and Q-bert, for Christ’s sake.

Barcade: it's like a bar... and an arcade. Amazing.

Barcade: it's like a bar... and an arcade. Genius.

I shouldn’t bash the clientelle of Barcade too much. Their lax attitude toward the parade of video games is probably due to the fantasy world of Barcade being at their beck and call seven days a week. But I’m from Queens. When I visit Barcade, I make sure to drink beer and get my ass kicked by my wife.

Barcade is a huge space, something between a garage and a warehouse. Most of the space is empty, which is refreshing because contrary to a lot of bars, you actually have room to breathe. Granted, I visited during off-hours, but it would be hard to imagine that this huge place ever gets close to full.

The space is really the first thing you notice, but soon your peripheral vision kicks in. Then you see one original video game machine after another running around the entire perimeter, with the only notable exceptions being the location of the pool table and a bar that’s impressive on its own. If you’re like me, the bar is where you head first, but along the way, you’re making a mental tally of the games you’re about to play.

My wife and I competed in a game of Tapper first, which is appropriately standing near the bar’s entrance. Given the hours I spent serving virtual beer on my family’s old Apple IIe, I was convinced I was going to be victorious.  Not so, and the flow of swear words had begun.

The first half of Barcade's namesake.

The first half of Barcade's namesake.

The flow of beer had begun as well. The selection has to be described as perfect, as long as you’re satisfied with American beers, as I am. (We’re not talking Bud, here.) The bar stools are strangely low, but when you just paid $6 for a cask-conditioned Rogue Smoke Ale, you shut your mouth and drink. The beer menu has been carefully written to include tasting notes, and the selection changes regularly. (The week’s current selection is on their website, along with links to each beer’s Beer Advocate page.) Other beers that were featured when I visited included: Dogfish Head Black and Blue (red ale with blueberries and raspberries); Smuttynose Maibock; and the local Sixpoint Apollo, a wheat ale from the other Brooklyn brewery.

If you like good beer, that’s good enough reason to check out Barcade. But if you think you’d get a kick out of playing some of the games you played in your youth (or your parents’ youth), the choice to visit is a no-brainer.

Oh, and the final scores of our last visit:

  • Tapper (Roth: 0, Wife: 1)
  • Dig Dug (Roth: 0, Wife: 1)
  • Q-bert (Roth: 1, Wife: 0)
  • Arkanoid (Roth: 2, Wife: 0)

Hey, it looks like I didn’t get my ass kicked after all. But do you know how many hours of practice I had to conduct during my childhood to achieve this? The dollar amount of Ground Round nachos and buffalo wings I went through just to get those Arkanoid wins might have been better saved and put aside for, I don’t know, maybe my own huge goddamn bar filled with video games.

388 Union Ave.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(Check out this great series of photos on the construction of Barcade.)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

KT June 25, 2009 at 11:57 am

You didn’t mention one of the best things about this place.. Old school games at an old school price… A quarter to play.

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