PINE BROOK, NEW JERSEY
Making fantastic wood-fired pizzas and serving top-notch local craft beers since 2014, Pine Brook’s WOODSTACK PIZZA also specializes in worthy pasta dishes and nifty original cocktails. Right on bustling Route 46 in Morris County, this rustic ranch-styled lodge features a 12-tap front bar with colorful beer-cocktail blackboard displays and two opposing TV’s for sports fanatics.
Pristine industrial wood-metal furnishings abound and a tiled open kitchen and large wine humidor add to the splendor. Two multi-stooled tables with Edison lights sidle the 20-seat bar. A right side V-framed room with wood paneling offers extra dining and the warmth of a large brick fireplace. There’s even a private left side lounge area for parties.
During my mid-January 2019 lunchtime perusal, enjoyed creamy tomato soup with fried eggplant, mozzarella cheese, tomato and basil panini while imbibing terrific Two Roads Two Evil Saigon Scooter Selfie Stout (reviewed in Beer Index).
GLEN ROCK, NEW JERSEY
Settled into the tiny Northern Jersey town of Glen Rock alongside the railway line, STONE & RAIL RESTAURANT AND BAR is an inventive modern gastropub with an invitingly original upscale menu and a strong focus on craft beer.
Paying homage to the local railroad transit system, its vintage reclaimed wood and rustic charm offer a warm atmosphere. Three TV’s at the 20-seat wood bar provide a sports-centric feel. Left side dining tables counter the 20-draught bar and a back balcony features billiards and shuffleboard.
On my December 2018 dinner jaunt, ate Stone & Rail burger (smoked bacon, caramelized onions, muenster cheese with parmigiana fries) alongside Butternut Squash Granny Apple Bisque while wife consumed sourdough-toasted, muenster-cheesed, tomato-creamed Artichoke Grilled Cheese. Also quaffed four previously untried suds: Newburgh Hefe’ry Hudson, Sixpoint Binary Double IPA, River Horse Craic Irish Stout and River Horse Jaysus That’s Sour (reviewed in Beer Index).
Fun for beer geeks, families and sports fans alike, Stone & Rail’s a welcome edition to this small upscale community.
SOMERVILLE, NEW JERSEY
An exquisite upscale cocktail lounge with gourmet food and well-selected craft beer perfectly described as a “cozy hideaway,” TAPASTRE is centrally located on the corner of historic High Street alongside old Victorian properties and a pristine white-marbled courthouse.
A quaint patio with six umbrella-shaded metal tables and chairs welcomes patron to the dungeon-like low ceiling basement pub. A wraparound S-shaped granite-topped 15-seat bar features lots of shelved liquor and 22 draught taps as well as two TV’s and blackboard beer menu. Small pendant lighting lines the bar while beige embossed ceiling tiles cover the back dining space and several right side booths and tables add further refined elegance.
Upstairs, Project Pub pairs food such as ostrich burgers, ahi tuna, duck leg, schnitzel and chicken wings with featured brewery’s ales. Tonight, nearby Lone Eagle Brewing offers several choice beverages.
During my two-hour stay with wife in tow, I consumed Long Island duck confit and Cajun crabcakes with hummus while quaffing wide-ranging stylistic fare such as Alementary Kalamansi Gose, Nickel Brook Uber Peach Raspberry Beliner Weiss, Allagash Farm To Face Sour Ale, Flounder Sourlands Wheat, Cigar City Good Gourd, Icarus Sunwalker Smoked Pilsner, Icarus Lil Yacht Juice NE IPA, Sloop Liquid Sorcery NE IPA, Cricket Hill Comet Cloud Red IPA and red wine-barreled Brotherton Earthbound Saison (all reviewed in Beer Index).
At Olde Mistick Village just off Route 95 in the maritime hamlet of Mystic, JEALOUS MONK SOCIAL HALL & BEER GARDEN re-creates a German beer hall with its multi-purpose beergarden, community dining and general spirit.
The spacious outdoor area includes an overhang-decked section with wooden tables plus a few Adirondack-chaired fire pits. Inside, medieval chandeliers hang from the arched ceiling at the left bar (with 32 draughts, 4 TV’s and electronic beer menu) while the beautiful gray-tiled floor adds class.
During a lovely Thursday afternoon, August ’18, my wife and I plus youngest son visit on the way to Newport. Of the 32 tapped selections, four are basic proprietary brews crafted at Pittsburgh’s Penn Brewing. Griddled cornbread is recommended alongside German schnitzel and bratwurst dishes.
As for the four Penn brews, simple Bavarian-styled Penn Pilsner brought lemony pleasantries to musky Hallertau hop herbage, desolate caramelized malting and lightly perfumed wheat respite. Soapy Hefewiezen let stylish banana-clove-bubblegum conflux become tarter than expected, but lacked resilience. Sharply citrus-pined India Pale Ale retained yellow grapefruit tanginess and musty earthiness. Mossy dried fruiting relegated understated Dunkel.
I also quaffed two tremendous dark ales, Outer Light Libation Propaganda Stout and Revival White Electric Coffee Stout (reviewed fully in Beer Index).
DUCK, NORTH CAROLINA
On the northernmost end of Dare County and practically next door to similarly beer-centric coffeehouse Sweet T’s, GROWLERS TO GO opened Memorial Day 2017. Placed in the middle of a small downtown mall at Duck Road, this combination beer-wine store and localized draught beer joint promotes Carolina’s finest microbrews as well as some splendid national brands.
A yellow-wooded serving station at the back serves 48 tapped selections. One front table with four chairs offers relaxation for customers and the side walls hold bottled-canned offerings. Selling keggers to local denizens aids outside consumption.
On my mid-July ’18 perusal, I found five previously untried brews on tap and bought a six-pack of newbies to go. Got to quaff 4-ounce samplers of Ballast Point Peach Kolsch, Gizmo Fake News New England IPA, Railhouse Ka-bar Brown Ale, Trinity Chilly Water Porter and Coelacanth Kopimanis Milk Stout (all reviewed in Beer Index).
A definite beer destination for connoisseurs and dabblers alike, Growlers To Go’s a fine vacation stop.
KILL DEVIL HILLS, NORTH CAROLINA
Inside a small Croatan Highway mini-mall at Kill Devil Hills, BUFFALO CITY JUG SHOP had the most interesting beer selection on the Outer Banks. Since 2017, this clean one-room open space features a six-seat laminated wood bar (with inlet beer coasters) serving fabulous flagships, seasonals, one-offs and specials from its 20-plus tap handles.
Along the right side, there’s a refrigerated section of bottles-cans across warm shelved brews (with many sours amongst the fine local lot).
During my one-hour stay, I quaffed six North Carolina brews: Smithfield’s Double Barley Sparkky’s Milk Stout and Asheville’s Wicked Weed Lieutenant Dank IPA plus four from Charlotte’s Wooden Robot – flagship Overachiever Pale Ale, What I’m Having Session IPA, Robotico Lager and Get Rich Or Chai Trying Milk Stout (reviewed in Beer Index).
VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA
Open 2015, MIX IT UP not only offers a fine selection of local, national and international microbrew bottles-cans, but also a diverse menu of fifty draughts avavilable at the silver metal wraparound serving station. While the left side features the bottles and cans, the seperate right side room holds the draughts. A wood-floored back deck offers more seating.
On a late afternoon jaunt, I bought several bottles of Virginia vintage while quaffing MoMac Sea Cow Stout (reviewed in Beer Index).
MORRIS PLAINS, NEW JERSEY
For an independent ‘old man’s bar,’ Morris Plains roadhouse, HOOVER’S TAVERN, stays youthful capturing western Jersey’s woodsy suburban rusticity while serving some of the finest tapped craft beer in the area.
Sure, there’s the typical Bud-Miller-Coors fare, but most of the draughts at this 1930′s established dive bar will please even the most stubborn beer snobs.
An illuminated Sierra Nevada sign guides patrons to this paraphernalia-laden one-room joint. Inside the pale blue bar is an ancient oval bar with 50-plus seats, three small tables and old reliable kitchen appliances to cook pizza, hot dogs and pretzels.
There’s a Heineken sign stretched along the wood-paneled front wall and several TV’s generate local sports fans. Live entertainment could be found on the weekends.
On my initial May ’18 mid-afternoon jaunt, I consumed Southern Tier Somoa This (a S’mores-like Imperial Stout), Stoudt’s Hobo Ed’s Imperial Coffee Porter and New Belgium Tartaion Lemon Ginger Sour Ale. Full reviews are in Beer Index.
One of the most bohemian campus-styled beer halls in the whole Northeast, ELI CANNON’S TAP ROOM serves Wesleyan College and the whole free-spirited Middletown community with its lively frathouse appeal , antique memorabilia, graffiti-clattered walls, eclectic curiosities, local paraphernalia and well-selected revolving draughts.
In the heart of Connecticut just south of Hartford at Middletown’s North End, the recently renovated red brick tavern co-owned by beer-centric entrepreneur, Phil Ouellette, will appeal to any seasoned brew hound. In business since ’94, its offbeat dive bar appearance never obstructs the fantastic pub fare (burgers, sandwiches, snacks).
Mugs hang from the 35-tap bar and several brewery signposts decorate the walls alongside bikes, fire engines, skeletons, motorcycles and a mummy poster.
My wife and I grab a table at the cramped right side dining area where several college kids tip glasses. It’s a stormy Friday in April ’18 when I consume local Connecticut fare such as Back East Crosby Stills & Smash Pale Ale and New England Kewl Beans Stout plus Cali’s Anderson Valley Framboise Rose Gose (all reviewed in Beer Index).
Inside an ivy-covered red brick edifice deep in the heart of Dallas, premier gastropub MEDDLESOME MOTH opened in 2010 and boasts 40-plus beer taps plus three beautiful stain glass murals honoring rock legends Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Maintaining an upscale appearance and classy sportsbar atmosphere, Meddlesome Moth’s 20-stool pewter-top bar services a cavernous dining space (with plush leather booths and tables). $1,100 in silver quarters don the draught board (with 40 taps) and an open kitchen offers large portions of gourmet pub cuisine.
The prominent Cathedral-like ceiling and broad brown wood columns arch down towards the back end and a wood-furnished side patio offers extra seating.
Visited on a sunny Sunday in April ’18, Meddlesome Moth is packed at noon. I got to quaff four previously untried brews, including Boulevard Jam Band Berry Ale, Peticolas Match Day Session IPA, Peticolas Too Soon IPA and St. Arnold’s Bourbon-Aged Bishops Barrel 10 (all reviewed in Beer Index).
One of the finest craft beer haunts in the Dallas area, THE BRASS TAP resides at the northern end of the interurban city of Allen. A freestanding red brick edifice with wide open interior space, The Brass Tap set up shop, August 2015.
A well-rounded selection of 100-plus draught beers fill the stainless-steeled taps at the 20-seat left side bar. The maroon-walled backdrop and studio lighting heighten the caliginous black ceiling.
Along the back wall, there are several black-boarded beer drinkin’ categories defined as Repeat Offender, Guru, Snob, Aficionado and Rookie. The high-ceilinged open space includes pristine wood tables and chairs. Drink and food specials are listed below the TV’s at the bar.
On my initial April 2018 journey with wife and youngest son, quaffed several fine Texas brews such as Rahr & Sons Paleta de Mango, Buffalo Bayou Sam’s Wake and Bake Blonde Ale, Great Raft Old Mad Joy Baltic Porter, Lone Pint Knecht Ruprecht II Porter, No Coast Agricultured Rye Porter, Blue Owl Admiral Garvitas Sour Imperial Stout, Lakewood The Temptress Imperial Milk Stout and Braindead Party Pooper Strong Ale (all fully reviewed in Beer Index).
Proud beer-centric restaurant chain, FLYING SAUCER DRAUGHT EMPORIUM, opened its waterfront operation in Garland, Texas, during 2007. Over a decade hence, this Lake Ray Hubbard-bound establishment continues to thrive.
Inside an expansive freestanding red brick building next to Hooters and Primo’s, Flying Saucer’s busy interior is filled with plastic UFO-like saucers, brewery insignias, elegant china and glazed wood furnishings. An outside deck and windowed pale green-shingled porch (with block wood antique tables and red slate floor) sit alongside the waterside.
Visited April 2018 on a windy Saturday afternoon, its impressive 80-plus draughts don a penny-backed wall unit. A stainless-steeled kitchen alongside the curly 30-seat bar serves anything from pork bellies to goat cheese salad. A large bottled-canned beer selection fills a fridge. There’s a definite sportsbar atmosphere.
During my hour-long stay, quaffed previously untried Texas brews St. Arnold’s 5 O’Clock Pils, Martin House Friday IPA and Wild Acre Billy Jenkins Dunkelbock as well as Utah’s Epic Son Of A Baptist Stout (all fully reviewed in Beer Index).