Wiley, Ben


Ben Wiley (CIR Fukui-ken. 2004-06) Opens Up a New Bar in Brooklyn

(From the Fall 2007 Issue of the JETAA NY Newsletter)

On August 17, JET alum Ben Wiley, a former Fukui-ken CIR who lived and worked in Yokohama prior to that, opened Bar Great Harry with his brother Mike on the corner of Smith and Sackett Streets in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn.

After a small gathering of JET alums there on August 23 to say konbanwa and o-jama shimasu and show support for a fellow JET alum, the Newsletter caught up with Ben and engaged in investigative reporting (i.e., used Google) to better understand what makes this bar unique.

What the Newsletter found is:

1.  Ben is obsessed with beer, and, Bar Great Harry serves some of the best and most unique “craft” beer around.
2.  One of those beers is called Butternuts Pork Slap.
3.  One of the bar’s biggest fans is El Presidente Rob Tuck:  “It’s got a fantastic selection of beers, ex-JET bartenders, and it’s on possibly the funkiest street in the city. What’s not to like?”
4.  Ben also writes a blog about the bar (bargreatharry.com/blog) that’s worth a read.

And now, the the question that’s been on your mind since you started reading this article…

What’s the story behind the bar’s name?

Ben: Well, I used to live and bartend at WINDJAMMER in Yokohama.�  But the bar that I used to hang out at a lot after we closed up was called Bar Great Harry.  We took that name for lack of anything better and because we thought it sounded weird and fucked up and cool.  Nice to have a little homage to Nippon.

And now a more prosaic question that is still worth including in this article for contextual purposes…

Why open a bar in Brooklyn?

Ben: I like tending bar and I really like beer.  So does my brother.  Brooklyn is awesome – nice people, and they all seem to really like beer, too.  I live here.  I know the neighborhood.  I knew that people would accept good beer if you teach them and tell them what it is.  There’s enough decent (but not really really craft, micro stuff) beer around that I knew with a little tweaking we could present true craft beer to the people.

But what’s so unique about the blog?

We’re not sure if it’s common practice for bar owners to write blogs these days, but it’s clear from his prose that Ben enjoys writing and that the bar is more than just a business to him.  Here’s a choice nugget:

Can has Stella plz?  No. (September 1)
When we opened everyone warned us that we needed to offer Stella.  What did we do?  We listened and ordered three kegs, assuming that we would run through it opening weekend.  What happened? We took it down after about five days.  Now we have the same three kegs taking up valuable real estate in our walk-in.

We didn’t realize it at the time, but this was a one-way street. What are we gonna do, put Stella back up?  And anyway, fuck this beer. It’s expensive as shit and isn’t anything special. Don’t get too twisted; I’ve had many a Stella on many a night. However, it makes us feel warm and fuzzy when someone sips on, say, a Stoudt’s Pilsner.

To read more, go to bargreatharry.com/blog.  To drink more, go to the corner of Smith & Sackett (F Train to Carroll Street stop).  And to see Metromix’s review of Bar Great Harry, go to: newyork.metromix.com/bars-and-clubs/article/inside-bar-great-harry/163165/content.

one comment so far...

  • jetwit.com - Bar Great Harry - Brooklyn Brewmaster’s Reserve Night Said on January 21st, 2009 at 2:55 pm:

    […] Bar Great Harry is a bar on Smith St. in Brooklyn owned and run by JET alum Ben Wiley (CIR Fukui-ken, 2004-06), who shares the below info for anyone interested in joining.  You can also see the Bar Great Harry blog here and a Fall 2007 JETAA NY Newsletter article about Ben and his bar here. […]

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