UPPER EAST SIDE — Milk & Hops is bringing its colossal collection of craft beers to the neighborhood when its largest location yet opens on First Avenue near East 64th Street.
The 50-seat eatery at 1159 First Ave. will offer small bites like house-made beer cheese and hot pretzel, as well as draft beer by the glass, growlers to take home and a selection of more than 250 bottles, according to owner Yang Gao and Milk & Hop's website.
The hybrid restaurant and retail shop, which has locations in Astor Place and Chelsea, is expected to open by March 1 next year, Gao said.
The Upper East Side location will be bigger and will focus on being more of a neighborhood hangout than a retail store like the other outposts, he added.
"The Upper East Side has a lot of younger people, young professionals and doctors, and a lot of families," he said.
"We wanted to find a bigger location with more seating. Other beer shops are a destination and people go there to get bottles. I want these [Milk & Hops] to be neighborhood shops. Every neighborhood in New York City could use and support one of these."
The extra space will allow for more craft beer varieties, but so far offerings are slated to include Jack's Abby Red Take, Grimm Super Spruce, Interboro/Threes Ba Meaning Good, and Third Rail Bodega Pale Ale and many more.
Guests can also nibble on small dishes like kale n' sprouts, and warm herbed goat cheese crostini — all under $8.
Larger plates include meat and cheese plates, grilled cheese sandwiches made with cave-aged Gruyere or truffled Vermont cheddar, and reuben, two types of BLTS and the Barcelona sandwich made with manchego cheese, Cantimpalo chorizo, marinated piquillo peppers and mebrillo — all of which are under $12.
Brunch may also be added to the menu, but that is still up in the air, Gao said.
Gao, 37, who also owns Astoria Bier and Cheese, said he opened Milk & Hops back in 2012 because he was tired of sending people to Whole Foods for beer.
"The goal is to have an environment where people can experience the forefront of beer revolution," he said.
"There are so many more new beers out there that people are not able to try, so this gives them a platform to come in and try new things, whether it's picking out a bottle, six packs, a growler, or they sit down and have sandwich that we make from best ingredients from a lot of local suppliers."
As customers come in, the shop's staff will cater to their needs as buying and ordering habits become clear, Gao said.
Milk & Hops will be open daily from noon through 11 p.m.