WAYNE, NEW JERSEY
In a haunted colonial-style edifice given landmark status as the French Hill Inn, Wayne, New Jersey’s tan-blocked TAPHOUSE GRILLE opened as a casual upscale gastropub-sportsbar during 2010. Nowhere near as beer-centric as Shepherd & Knucklehead’s, Andy’s Corner Bar, Cloverleaf or Copper Mine, its more trend-conscious, family-friendly, and classically decorated, concentrating on good pub fare but not at the expense of a well-selected tap selection. Visited during a vibrant Friday evening Happy Hour on a snowy January (2013), the comforting warmth of the low ceiling bar area gave it the neighborhood feel of a British tavern as I soaked up five previously untried brews.
At the cozily intimate 10-stooled left side bar there are three tap reservoirs stationing 24 tap handles that serve mostly limited edition microbrews. Multiple TV’s keep sports fans entertained. To the right and rear, quaint dining areas seat large and small parties. Up the central staircase, a private party room and lounge area exist. 5-ounce 4-beer sampler trays are available for those trying to pick ‘n choose their poison.
Tonight’s rare choices included lemon-aided IPA Stone 16th Anniversary; slow sippin’ whiskey-barreled chocolate-charred Epic Smoked & Oaked; nutty dried-fruited peculiarity Anchor Zymaster #2 Mark’s Mild Dark Ale; piney citric IPA-derived winter warmer Fish Tale Winterfish; fruit-musked Dieu Du Ciel Corne Du Diable and chocolate-draped holiday fruitcake Mikkeller Santa’s Little Helper.
The following Friday, I revisit the Taphouse Grille before heading to a Hasbrouck Heights Beefsteak Dinner. I converse with house zymurgist, Matt Cinotti, the bar’s beer buyer, who generously gives me two tickets for tomorrow’s New Jersey Beer Expo at the Meadowlands (where I’ll try over a dozen new beers). At this one-hour jettison, soothing India Pale Ale, Captain Lawrence Re-Intro NJ, captures my attention. Its grassy-hopped perfume musk and zippy citric sparkle wake up the senses (full review at Beer Index).
During a brisk March ’13 Happy Hour session on Burgers ‘N Beer Tuesday, enjoyed excellent Crispy Fried Eggplant appetizer with three rangy IPA’s, an epic stout and a nutty chocolate-fruited strong ale. Kane Empower boasted a bitterer orange-peeled grapefruit rind prominence than wood-lacquered citric-pined Thomas Creek Class 5 IPA and marzipan-sweetened melon-fruited Speakeasy Double Daddy. Soft-toned bourbon-whirred chocolate-browned Goose Island Big John Imperial Stout nicely contrasted creamy peanut, raisin and black chocolate-affixed Carton G.O.R.P. (full reviews in Beer Index).
Serving great burgers and appetizers to go alongside finely hand selected beers and well-made cocktails, this multi-faceted pub challenges the area’s best beer bars. And there are plenty of specials to excite a wide variety of clientele.