Category Archives: BEER PUB


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Inside an inconspicuous Route 32 mini-mall just off Route 287 one mile north of Woodbury Commons at Central Valley,  A BETTER PLACE BAR & GRILL began operations in the summer of ’16.

Serving a quaint neighborhood, this cozy sportsbar (with strategically placed TV’s) utilizes its 12 tap handles for mostly hand-crafted New York State brews.

A wood-furnished pub with backside open kitchen and left side dining area straddling the 20-seat bar that snakes around the right side on a crazy angle, A Better Place feels homey and warm. An American flag carved from wood sits atop the tap handles and liquor bottles.

On a seasonally warm pre-Thanksgiving Day perusal, fine Big Apple draught selections from Kingston-based Keegan Ales, Livingston Manor’s Catskill Brewery, Florida’s Glenmere Brewing, Chester’s Rushing Duck Brewing and Calverton’s Twin Fork get imbibed by the small mid-afternoon crowd.

At the crossroads of Orange and Rockland counties heading north to the bucolic Upper New York expanse,  A Better Place is its area’s best craft beer choice.


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In the center of St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan’s East Village, the fourth Barcade franchise opened during 2015. Taking the space once occupied by iconic New York record shop, Kim’s Underground, Paul Kermezian’s latest arcade-laden beer pub provides the same fine craft beer and wine as its other idiosyncratic locations.

Retaining the crudely rustic black-walled interior and exposed pipes of its predecessor, Lower East Side’s Barcade features 20-plus taps at its right side 12-seat lamp-lit bar. A central blackboard lists current beer selections.

On my terse half-hour stopover, October ’17, I discovered Great South Bay Splashing Pumpkin (reviewed in Beer Index). On deck were a few brews I hadn’t yet tried, such as Barrier Tanto, Shmaltz Hannukah in July in Napa, Du Claw Collusion, Chelsea Pumpkin Pie and Kelso Berliner Weisse with Cranberry.


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A dinky l’il hole in the wall tucked into the main thoroughfare of Sloatsburg’s Orange Turnpike, the diminutive SEVEN LAKES STATION is a fertile craft beer oasis specializes in local New York brews as well as fine Belgian ales and specialty one-offs.

Open during the summer of 2016, its casual 8-seat bar (with 14 taps, a blackboard menu and walled TV) gets squeezed in next to three windowed tables. And the friendly low-key atmosphere, diminutive size and quaint ambiance contrast the loud biker-family sportsbar expanse of nearby Rhodes North Tavern and Characters Bar.

Charming newlyweds Martijn Mollet and Jamie Lovelace make amiable hosts and there love for music and brews proves worthy. There’s even a nifty orange Dogfish Head Brewing turntable on a shelf.

By August ’17, the beer-centric couple fixed up a three-tabled backroom (with chevron-patterned wood design, geometric bear and owl plaques and blackboard tap list) as well as a fenced-in picnic area (with Edison bulb lighting, patio furniture and graveled ground).

Today’s previously untried fare included Beau’s Buenos Dias Gruit, an ancient Margarita-like herbed ale with lightly salted lime-peeled lemon juicing, and Oxbow Grizacca Saison, a dry-hopped saison with zesty lemon and orange tartness topping musty mineral grains. For dessert, I quaff long-time fave, St. Bernardus 12, a world class Belgian Abbey Ale with sweet-spiced candied fig, sugared molasses and toffee illusions.

Well-suited for the pastoral quietude of nearby Harriman State Park (a historic spot for cutting class during high school), Seven Lakes Station proves less can be more. Besides the fine draught menu, there’s a refrigerator off to the side offering magnificent Belgian bottled beers and respectable local fare. Plus, warm pretzels, cheese plates and cure meats are available for munching.



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Right on the corner of Bleecker and Jones Street in Manhattan’s West Village, BLIND TIGER ALE HOUSE has been a New York City staple since opening in 1996. A legendary downtown pub, Blind Tiger emulates Prohibition Era Speakeasy’s with its comforting Olde World ambience and roughhewn wood décor.

A rustic one-room fortress with old creaky floorboards, mid-walled brick hearth, farmhouse-styled ceiling beams and wraparound 18-seat bar, Blind Tiger’s multiple blackboards list 28 draughts plus three casks and several bottled-canned beers.

Industrial lamps light the bar while several tightly packed tables and one hanging TV take up the rest of its cozy space. A light food menu includes sandwiches, appetizers and salads to alongside well-selected craft brews, wine and cocktails.

On a hot September afternoon following the San Gennaro Fest, my wife and I grab a few stools to consume California’s Firestone Walker Helldorado Blonde Barleywine, Ireland’s Lough Gill Imperial Coconut Toasted Porter and Maine’s Allagash White (reviewed fully in Beer Index).


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Inside a small freestanding building previously used as a bank, COASTAL CRAFT BEVERAGE CO. popped up, August ’17, and serves as the first true beer pub in the North Carolina seaport town of Calabash.

Owned by former draught system technician-installer, Paul Engstrom, and his friendly fiancé, Beth Hutchins, this detailed boutique operation has already drawn many curious local customers and a host of beer-centric vacationers with its fine hand-selected bottled and canned selection (loaded with hard-to-find and rare local brews).

The gray-floored interior includes several refrigerators and shelves full of takeout offerings, several windowed seats, four tables and a turntable spinning Janis Joplin this Friday eve.

On my initial visit during Coastal Craft’s soft opening, I head to the wood-paneled serving station and grab a few previously untried beers.

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Alongside family dog, Roscoe, and wife, Karen, we head to the four-benched side patio (with beautiful flower-columned trellises) to consume enjoyable Lynnwood Grill ‘s Helluva Hefe and Kiss My Irish Stout as well as Four Saints Triad Alliance Tripel (all reviewed in Beer Index).

Brunswick County’s craft beer movement has just begun. Down the street, across the South Carolina border, Lowe’s Foods now has a Beer Den with 10-plus tap handles and fair local bottled-canned selections. And a few miles north, Southport’s Check Six Brewing became Brunswick’s first brewpub.


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Open since 2014, Myrtle Beach craft beer haven, THE GRUMPY MONK, features some of Carolina’s best suds. Set beside Route 501 a few miles west of the beach, this copious freestanding restaurant highlights the surrounding mall-bound highway shops.

Grumpy Monk’s tall red-bricked entrance leads to a spacious right side sportsbar (with pristine granite-topped wood counter, brown fluorescent ceiling scape, multiple tap handles, various beer signs, several TV’s and sidled seating). Refreshing water-bubbled glass tanks separate the bar from the main left side dining area.

Specialty cocktails along with shareable soup, salad, sandwiches, sushi and burgers fill the menu while beer lovers will be delighted by the ever-changing draught selections.

My wife and I grab a few chairs underneath the partially covered front patio deck (with 25 tables) to consume seven previously untried brews with Hot Grandma (fried green tomato, Swiss-chedder cheese, bacon and aioli spice) during initial August ’17 lunchtime break.

Alongside South Carolinian faves such as River Rat Blueberry Lemon Wheat, Frothy Beard Watermelon Wheat, Coast HopArt IPA and Low Tide Reese’Ding Brown Ale were New York’s Three Heads Too Kind Double IPA, San Francisco’s Anchor Mango Wheat and North Carolina’s Check Six Dugan Stout (reviewed fully in Beer Index).

Arguably Myrtle Beach’s best beer bar, Grumpy Monk will surely not disappoint.



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With over 150 locations nationwide, the MELLOW MUSHROOM franchise began in Atlanta, Georgia during 1974. Bringing a family-friendly Alice In Wonderland-like atmosphere to a fun sportsbar, the zany restaurant chain specializes in stone-baked Southern pizza and drapes each of its franchises with eclectic art-fueled designs.

At the North Myrtle Beach location on Route 17 (visited August ’17) conglomerated car parts form a crazy mesh at the extravagant entranceway.

The colorful dining room sports several mushroom-affixed fishtanks, a private kids party room, a round-seated Boat section and sundry other delightful items.

The yellow wood paneled left side pub area features a large centralized bar with 50-plus taps and various liquors.

My wife and I sat at the covered side deck, where eight broad iron tables and seats serve outside patrons getting their last glimpse of today’s sunlight.

During our one-hour dinner stopover, quaffed North Charleston’s Holy City Pluff Mud Porter and Asheville’s Wicked Weed Lunatic Blonde (reviewed in Beer Index) while chowing down Bruschetta and Kosmic Karma (red-sauced pizza with a pesto swirl, sun-dried tomatos, spinach and feta-mozzarella cheese).


German Food Portsmouth, VA


One of the most popular Portsmouth gastropubs, the generically-named BIER GARDEN offers authentic German and European food plus 25-plus taps and hundreds of craft beer bottles (listed in an intense cardboard notebook). Right in the heart of Olde Towne’s High Street just a few blocks from the Chesapeake Bay, this family-owned Bavarian restaurant opened during 1997 and quickly developed a loyal fan base.

A trellis-flowered front deck just down from the entryway patio leads to an open-air dining space sidling a covered outdoor deck and exquisite left side dining area.

The home-styled Bier Garden’s red brick foundation, bright blue window trimming and ever-present green plants immediately capture the eye.

An aged-in-the-wool accordionist plays Oktoberfest oom pah music as well as polka and Italian ballads for outside diners.

My wife and I chow down on vegetarian-styled Kase Spatzle (a German-noodled, Havarti-cheesed, onion-fried dish) and Jagerschnitzel (mushroom gravy-sauced pork-loin) this gorgeous Saturday afternoon, August ’17.

Since I’d already tried every German draught available today, I imbibe one terrific Kentucky ale – Goodwood Bourbon Barrel Stout (a creamily oak-toasted full body with dark-roast chocolate and silken vanilla sweetness fully reviewed in Beer Index).

All journeying beer lovers will enjoy this unique Bavarian-flavored destination.


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One of the better craft beer joints in Plano, Texas (north of Dallas), BRICK HOUSE TAVERN & TAP competes favorably with local competitors such as Fillmore Pub, Holy Grail Pub, Taverna Rossa and Vickery Park.

A freestanding TV-replete sportsbar with basic pub fare and fine Texas draught brews, its central bar services a cozy fireplace-centered couch area, several surrounding booths and tables and a front patio deck.

On my initial journey in July ’17, quaffed (512) Pecan Porter and Pecan Porter with Chipotle, Franconia Wheat, Revolver Ironhead IPA and Revolver Blood & Honey Wheat Ale. (reviewed fully in Beer Index). There was also Texas fare from Rahr & Sons, Community Beer, Lakewood, Deep Ellum, Peticolas and Shiner.


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A quirky narrow Speakeasy squeezed tightly into downtown Lehighton, BONNIE & CLYDE PUB & GRILL opened in the autumn of 2016. Its Prohibition Era copper tin ceiling, Edison lights, old cinematic paraphernalia and multiple wood-barreled tap handles crowd the 15-seat L-shape bar (with 4 TV’s for sports addicts).

A separate right side dining space divided by a lit New Belgium Brewery sign and a Goose Island plaque serves families this Saturday evening, July ’17.

Fine upscale fare included my wife’s Ma Barker Wrap (Swiss-cheesed turkey with cucumber and horseradish) and the generous ham-like Duck (with duck-stuffed ravioli) I consumed.

On tap during my two-hour escapade were three previously untried elixirs plus one Diabolical Wit first encountered at Springhouse Brewery and one Pittsburgh-bound North Country ale.

North Country Station 33 Firehouse Irish Red regaled tea-like earthiness and tobacco-roasted peat mossing with musky apple-pear illusions.

Singlecut Are You Ready Steve? IPA succeeded as a light-bodied “Hawaiian Punch” with fruited cornucopia.

Toolbox Bog Sauce, a tart raspberry-cranberry-infused Berliner Wiess, gained vinous green apple and white grape tannins.

Full reviews at Beer Index.




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Just off Route 80 in Central Pennsylvania, DENNY’S BEER BARREL PUB will please any burger-lovin’ beer pounder. Founded by owner Denny Liegey in 1977, this barnstable-like Clearfield landmark was gutted and re-done during January 2016.

Always known as a terrific burger joint (with a TV-enhanced sportsbar atmosphere), its current brick-walled oak bar setup includes 40 taps loaded with hard-to-find local stuff, nationally recognized craft brews and eight well-known macros.

My wife and I head to the 20-seat bar for some late-night brews, June ’17. A separate left side dining area suits families. The BBQ-sauced Paterno Burger, dedicated to the legendary Penn State football coach, leads a fine menu including steaks, pub sandwiches, seafood and salads. I ate the juicy Kaiser-rolled PA Wilds Elk Burger while my wife enjoyed the batter-dipped Mac And Cheese Wedges.

Tonight’s draught selections included five previously untried beers (reviewed in Beer Index) from the Keystone State plus one Oregon-based bourbon-aged beauty. I thoroughly enjoyed beechwood-smoked, cherry-soured Bullfrog Smoked Cherry Farmhouse Wheat, ‘rowdy’ fruitful pale ale, Yards Sons Of Ben Belgian Pale Ale, lemon-soured, banana-cloved Robin Hood Bierfass Hefeweizen, easygoing citric-spiced Rusty Rail Train Wreck Imperial Pale Ale and coconut-toasted mocha confection Spring House Skull #1 Coffee Coconut Porter.

Wonderful West Coast dessert treat, Deschutes Black Butte XXXVIII Bourbon Aged Porter, coalesced bourbon vanilla serenity with sweet orange peel and peat-smoked malts.

A definite destination stop for any Route 80 bound denizen, Denny’s world famous burgers and revolving draughts can’t be denied.


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A humble neighborhood joint “inspired by passion for knowledge, skill and small-batch artisan goods,” LIBERTY CRAFT HOUSE is the crown jewel of Penn State’s campus. Tucked into College Avenue across from the main campus in a red brick building, its small front deck with community tables and chairs welcomes patrons to the bustling pub.

Liberty’s 20-seat bar contains over forty draughts, three cask handles and countless bottled-canned craft beers (some of which are one-of-a-kind hard-to-finds) as well as terrific handmade cocktails. Multiple TV’s attract sports fans to the beer-centric bar.

Dining tables crowd the front and left side while the rear open kitchen serves upscale fare. On my June ’17 sojourn with wife and youngest son, the busy Chefs Salad, juicy Crab Cake Sandwich and goat-cheesed Fig and Bruschetta Pizza kept us happy. These dishes went well with a few previously untried beverages (two proprietary cocktails, one hefe, one witbier, one tripel, one strong ale, one coffee ale and a neutral nitro coffee drink).

In a frozen copper goblet, Liberty’s Kentucky Mule bettered a whiskey sour with its lime-juiced ginger spicing, peppery heat and sweet bourbon over tiny ice cubes. Even better, their Moscow Mule brought clean vodka watering to lime-juiced ginger spicing, mild peppery heat, sweet lemonade sugaring and evergreen freshness.

Though Liberty’s collaborative Rothrock Nitro Coffee seemed flat and watery, its light-roast coffee beaning will please softer thirsts.

Reviewed in the Beer Index are Sly Fox Doppelbock Hefeweizen, Bell’s Poolside Ale (a witbier with tart Montmorency cherries), Yards Brewbik’s Cube Tripel, Southern Tier Pittsburgh Left Blonde Coffee and Weyerbacher 22 Anniversary Ale (with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange peel).

Part of the Dante’s Restaurant chain, Liberty Craft House is a natural destination location while perusing PSU.