Beer Bars/Restaurants

Sometimes, it’s not enough to have a beer at home. You want to get out and watch a game and throw back a brew, or you want to get a hard to find bottle or a draft only release from a brewery. Here are some places to get you started:

Alstarz

Location: 140 US Highway 130, Bordentown Township, New Jersey

Located right next to (and owned by) Mastori’s Diner, which is famous for their cheese bread, Alstarz looks like it has promise from the outside. A large building that boasts lots of tv’s for your sports watching pleasure, you walk in and are impressed by the large bar, the large amount of taps and the mindblowing amount of televisions. Once you sit down, that all goes out the window. My experience there started with attempting to order a beer. I say “attempting” because they hadn’t updated their beer menu in at least 6 months and had nothing on tap that I wanted after five attempts at ordering. Their bottle selection isn’t much better. They advertise “craft beers,” but by that, like many others, they mean Blue Moon. The service is slow and inattentive at best. I was one of 3 couples in the restaurant and I had to flag down the waitress multiple times.

Food: The menu looks really good with lots of different options that should please anyone. Unfortunately, these menu items are poorly executed. In some cases they’re underflavored and others they’re just plain yucky. In all cases, they are way overpriced for the items and portion size.

Grade: C-

Arena’s Deli

Location: 149 Rehoboth Avenue, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

This place was featured on “Brewdogs” as one of the top beer bars in Rehoboth Beach. The other half and I stopped in for a drink while we were trying to kill time before our dinner reservation. Walking into the place, there was a nice outdoor dining area that was packed and was pet friendly. The inside of the place is definitely dated. The tables had old beer labels on them and pictures of patrons from the early 90s. The beer selection was plentiful, but not impressive. There were a lot of domestics and domestic variants on tap, but it was hard for me to find a beer that I hadn’t reviewed. The service was alright for it being so busy.

Food: I didn’t order anything there, but from what I understand, they’re known for their sandwiches. There wasn’t anything that came out of the kitchen that I had to try.

Grade: B-

Barnacle Bill’s Restaurant

Location: 1 First Street, Rumson, New Jersey

According to my sister, this place has been there since the year of the flood. It definitely has that rustic feel to it. You know that feeling like a place hasn’t been updated since 1960? The tables are a bit crowded and they have a huge thing of peanuts for you to throw in a basket and shell at the table. Craft beer here is limited. I asked what beer they had and the only craft selection they had was “Blue Point.” I asked which one (even though I assumed it was the Toasted Lager). The waiter looked at me like I was crazy, went to the bar, came back and told me that it was indeed the Toasted Lager, which according to him, “tastes just like a Blue Moon.” Really? Interesting…

Food: This would be the high point of the experience there. The fish was incredibly fresh and done perfectly. The portions were generous without being intimidating and the side dishes were tasty.

Grade: C+

Black Horse Tavern

Location: 101 South State Street, Newtown, Pennsylvania

Located on a corner, a historic looking pub sits. I walked into the dark, unassuming bar, not really expecting that much. The owner of the bar immediately came over and told me what the specials were and that I was in time for happy hour, which included a complimentary buffet of appetizers. So far, so good. I looked at the beer list and was pretty impressed. They had about 16 different taps with all different sorts of offerings including Long Trail Harvest, Allagash White, DFH 60 Minute and Dominion Oak Barrel Stout to name a few. The bartender said they change some of the taps with relative frequency whereas others are always kept on tap (like the Allagash White and DFH 60). The staff wasn’t overly knowledgeable about the beers, but they made up for it by being incredibly friendly and quick to refill a glass.

Food: This was a huge surprise to me. They had fish and chips as a special when I was there. They were absolutely the best fish and chips that I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot of fish and chips). They weren’t greasy and were nice and crispy. So, so yummy.

Grade: A

Black Thorn

Location: 651 North Michigan Avenue, Kenilworth, New Jersey

Yet another restaurant in Union County that is billed as an authentic Irish pub, this is a place where I spent my youth. The building is pretty large, with a dark wood bar taking most of the front area. It boasts a large outdoor patio where they feature live music and DJs. This place is mostly known for basically being a club at night and all of the debauchery that ensues there. On one occasion that I was there, a fight broke out between two women and one got a huge clump of hair ripped out. Nice, right? If you go there during non-clubbing hours, they have a limited beer selection with all of the usual macros and a couple of taps of Leine’s and Blue Moon that they call “craft beer.” It’s not a horrible place to go, but it tends to have a very young and very unruly crowd (i.e. cops post outside of it every weekend).

Food: The food isn’t bad. They have a decent selection, albeit with limited Irish selections. They have a very robust list of specials which usually has something that would grab my eye. But, seriously overpriced, to the point of being ridiculous.

Grade: C+

Blend Bar And Bistro

Location: 911 Highway 33, Hamilton, New Jersey

Something that I think that is lacking in New Jersey that I’ve seen in both Philly and Brooklyn is the idea of the bottle shop/bar. In both, you have a place that has small bites along with a decent amount of taps and a few cold cases of good bottle selections. The ambiance is chill and you can just hang out, watch the game and have some good beer. Well folks, I’ve found that in Jersey and Blend is it. As of now, they have 8 taps (but we were told that they are hard at work putting in 8 more) and 5 cold cases of really nice bottle selections. The taps circulate out frequently (as I was told) and had a good selection of styles, so everyone should be able to find something they like. The bar itself has televisions on every wall, so you won’t miss a game. The staff is friendly without being overbearing and knows their stuff. I ordered a very coffee dominant porter that was more towards a stout and the bartender asked me twice to make sure I knew it was a really intense beer, which I thought was nice, especially if you’re a new craft beer drinker.

Food: The selections are mostly bar food, but they’re pretty good. None of the selections will wow your culinary palate, but they were done well. I really enjoyed the corn nuggets with maple syrup.

Grade: B+

Blind Tiger Ale House

Location: 281 Bleecker Street, New York, New York

One of the things that the other half has gotten me to do is travel to NYC. I’ve made it well-known that my city is Philly, but I’m really starting to like New York. This beer bar always gets written up and I was really excited to go there. The bar itself is L-shaped with about 15 seats. It’s definitely cramped, but when you look at the 27 drafts listed on multiple chalk boards around the place, it’s worth it. They have selections of various beer styles, so whatever you’re in the mood for, they have. The service is a bit on the slower side, but it’s due to the crowd that seems to gather. The place is on the pricey side, but remember that you’re in New York City. Also, you can only use a credit card if you’re planning to have at least two drinks.

Food: I didn’t have any, but they had a decent amount of brunch selections including a duck confit benedict.

Grade: A-

Brannigan’s Bar & Grill

Location: 14 Wharf Avenue, Red Bank, New Jersey

I have a wanderlust problem. I’ve always had it. Thus, why I try and review so many beers. It’s the same thing with bars and restaurants. I hate constantly going to the same places. I probably will never be considered a “regular” anywhere because I always want to try new things. That is how my friend and I ended up at this bar. This could be one of the worst bars that I have ever been to. Most of the crowd should have been cut off by the bartender, that’s how drunk they were. The ambiance was much like a frat house. The bartenders were rude and couldn’t even tell me what beers were on tap. When I went, they had two craft beer offerings, both from Goose Island. The biggest annoyance of this place? After I ordered drinks, they told me that it was a cash only bar and I had to get money out of the ATM in the bar that had a $4 surcharge. Ridiculous.

Food: I only had mozzarella sticks while I was there, but nothing coming out of the kitchen looked decent.

Grade: D

Brick House Tavern + Tap

Location: 4901 Stelton Road, South Plainfield, New Jersey

Good food + lots of flat screen tvs + halfway decent beer list + girls in skimpy shorts and low-cut shirts = my version of heaven. This place is good for groups and they do beer towers and even have mini kegs if you have enough people. They also have an outdoor seating area with a firepit. The beer list is pretty good and they have a lot of variety of styles. They also have beer towers if you go with a group.

Food: Really, really good. I would go there for the garlic tater tots alone. Plus, I’m addicted to the deviled eggs topped with bacon.

Grade: A-

Buffalo Wild Wings – North Brunswick

Location: 2241 Route 1, North Brunswick, New Jersey

When I used to live in North Brunswick, I remember being insanely excited that this place was going to open. There weren’t any around New Jersey that I had seen and I heard they were the ultimate place to watch sports. This location had a sprawling dining room with ample bar space and dining room space. There were televisions everywhere, all tuned to different sports. They even had a few projection screens. In the bar area, they would provide you with a controller to play video poker, trivia or other games. I loved the ambiance of it, although with everything going on, you never ended up talking to the people you came with. The other thing that I loved was that they offered craft beer, or so I thought. My concept of craft beer and theirs was a bit different (Bud American Ale was listed as a craft offering). They did have a few decent selections, but they were usually limited to two taps and a few bottles. It was also difficult to know what they had because they never had a list and the servers never had the beer list written down accurately.

Food: This is where their strength was. I have a slight addiction to the Asian Zing wings. And by slight, I mean a major addiction to them. Everything I’ve had there is good, albeit a little pricey. They have a wide selection of sauces and offerings, you really can’t go wrong with this place.

Grade: B-

Chickie’s and Pete’s – Bordentown

Location: 180 US Highway 130, Bordentown Township, New Jersey

Chickie’s and Pete’s, a Philadelphia institution. Who hasn’t been to a Phillies game and seen the hugely long line wrap around for people waiting for crab fries? Instead of doing this, I drive to Bordentown. The ambiance is that of a typical sports bar with huge televisions everywhere and lots of sports memorabilia. The crowd tends to be loud, but the service is always great. It’s not a fancy place, made especially obvious by the plastic flatware, but it’s a great place to hang out. Beer-wise, this place doesn’t have a lot to offer. It has the typical macro selections and a Sam Adams seasonal. I really wish they would get a craft beer or two, but even that won’t stop me from my crab fries. Update: They have a new craft beer menu and have about 10 different bottles and two dedicated actual taps. A real upgrade.

Food: Hello, my name is Meredith and I am a crab fry addict. I love the food here. It’s not fancy and it’s not healthy, but it’s addictive. From the calamari to the crab fries to the lobster cheesesteak and the wonderfully messy and delicious garlic crabs, everything here is good. You come here for the food, not the beer.

Grade: C+

Court Jester

Location: 16 East Main Street, Freehold, New Jersey

This place is an institution in Freehold. It’s basically a local place that has been there as long as I can remember. Located right in the middle of Main Street, it has a long bar and a darker than normal dining room. It looks slightly better than a dive bar, although the tables are small and a bit cramped for the space. Recently, their name has been popping up on NJCB because they have started offering more craft beers. My friend and I went to investigate (okay, let’s be honest…I went to investigate and they came to try the nachos). They do in fact, have 31 beers on tap and not all of them are craft. Out of the 31, about half were craft beers, which was more than I expected. They had some local offerings like Kane Head High and some more popular craft offerings like DFH 60 Minute and Abita Purple Haze. They have a few taps that rotate with all different craft beers. I’ve also seen that they’ve been doing some events that get brewery representatives in.

Food: And this is where they lose me. Their food is borderline awful. I really, really wish that they would get a new menu, a new kitchen staff or both. This would definitely be my go-to place if a) they offered more than the typical burger, nachos, etc. and b) they learned how to cook a damn burger. About once a year, I do go back to check if the food is still as awful and I’m unfortunately never disappointed.

Grade: C

Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats

Location: 320 Rehoboth Avenue, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Where to start with this place…you walk in and you’re immediately overwhelmed (if you’re a beer person). The decor has lots of Dogfish logos all around with a few televisions by the bar. All of the beer selections are on the chalkboard. One of the best parts about this place would be all of the brewpub exclusives that you can get here. Some of them eventually make it to four packs (I actually had Tweason’ale there as a brewpub exclusive). They also have some vintage beers available as well (I had Raison d’extra while I was there). Obviously, they only serve their own beer there, so if you’re not a DFH fan, this place is not for you. They also have their own line of DFH vodka and gin with some interesting flavors. I purchased the peanut butter vodka which was fantastic.

Food: In a word…amazing. I went to the DFH brewpub three times during my last visit and really enjoyed everything I had. But, the standout for me was the bacon chocolate cheesecake. I paired it with Raison d’Extra and amazingness ensued. That is all.

Grade: A+

Dubh Linn Square – Bordentown

Location: 167 US Highway 130, Bordentown Township, New Jersey

As soon as you pull up, this looks different than most Irish pubs in New Jersey. The building is huge and painted in the typical Irish style that you would see in Donegal. The service is friendly from the time that you walk through the door. The other thing that was shocking about this place was that the beer selection was pretty darn good! They have seven taps that are dedicated to craft beer (selections include Duvel, Chimay, Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA and Rogue Dead Guy), plus a bunch of taps dedicated to Irish and British beer (Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale, Magners, Smithwick’s). As if that weren’t good enough, they have a decent amount of craft beers in bottles as well. These included Smuttynose Finestkind IPA, Unibroue La Fin Du Monde and Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot. The ambiance inside the restaurant is in the true Irish tradition. Tables are generous spaced out and with both a downstairs and upstairs dining room, wait times are minimized.

Food: This is where I thought they would fall flat, like most other Irish pubs do. I was shocked to find they had inventive Irish dishes, but impeccable execution for reasonable prices. The whiskey chicken boxty is just phenomenal. I’ve never had a bad meal there and whenever I’m in the area, I tend to make a stop.

Grade: A-

Eulogy Belgian Tavern

Location: 136 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The other half and I had reservations at Amada and got to Old City early. Since we had some time to kill, we stopped at Eulogy for a beer. As you walk in, it looks to be a dark bar without much to offer, but the tap list is impressive with a lot of Belgian offerings (obviously). One of the more interesting offerings they have is a Dirty Ho. If you don’t know what that is, order one and you’ll thank me later. One of my biggest complaints about the place is that the tables have copper tops and are completely uneven. This made it difficult to keep my beer steady.

Food: We didn’t eat there, but one of the tables next to us had mussels which smelled really good.

Grade: A-

Fins Fish House and Raw Bar

Location: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

When I went into this place for dinner, I really didn’t have high beer expectations. Although Rehoboth features the DFH brewpub, I wasn’t sure that other places, especially a fish restaurant, would have a great beer selection. When I was given a buzzer to alert me when my 30 minute wait was over, I walked over to the bar. I was shocked to see seven draft selections on a large chalkboard that were all craft beer. Not only were they craft beer, but they were good craft beer. I chose the Stone Cali-Belgique IPA, but they also offered a selection from Smutty, Troegs and Rogue, to name a few. If nothing on the draft list was appealing, they had 26 craft bottle selections. The service was prompt and friendly and the ambiance was clean with lots of room in between tables.

Food: The food here was spectacular. They had a huge array of insanely fresh fish with your choice of preparation. The portions were generous and they had a huge array of side dishes that were very tasty. This place was just great all around. A must visit.

Grade: A

Goodnight Irene’s

Location: 2708 Pacific Avenue, Wildwood, New Jersey

When I last went down to Wildwood, this was a place that I knew that I wanted to visit. They always seemed to have a lot of different beers on tap and that is always something that I’m down with. When I walked in and saw the sheer amount of taps on the walls, I knew that I was going to like this place. The ambiance is simple and in need of a few upgrades. I had to move tables twice because of a leak coming from the ceiling. Other than that, the place was a dream. The selections available were extensive and there was something for everyone. A chalk board detailed what was on tap that day. The service was sub-par, but not terrible.

Food: The food was pretty good. The menu had a lot of different choices and the ones that I had were pretty tasty. Honestly, my focus was more on the beer.

Grade: A-

Good Dog Bar

Location: 224 South 15th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Good Dog Bar looks like a hole in the wall from the street, but as soon as you walk into the dark bar, you’re greeted by a friendly bartender waiting to pour you a beer. They have ten beers on tap that range from local offerings like Yards to Dark Horse to Coronado. The beers are served in appropriate glassware and the prices aren’t ridiculous for Philly. There is an upstairs bar as well if there aren’t any seats at the downstairs bar.

Food: The food is super yummy and has offerings like truffled steak empanadas and bacon hush puppies. It takes bar food and elevates it and is absolutely delectable. It’s even been featured on the Food Network.

Grade: A

Harvest Moon Brewery Cafe

Location: 392 George Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Located in New Brunswick, right by the College Avenue campus of Rutgers, is Harvest Moon. Spanning two floors, they serve up their own brews and food, albeit at slightly inflated prices. A place which seems to always draw a crowd features a bunch of different styles of beer that they rotate. The best that I’ve found are their Rye beer and their Firehouse Red. The place can get a bit loud, especially on the weekends when the college crowd is there.

Food: The food is alright, but definitely not for the price. I’d try eating at another place in New Brunswick and just stopping here for a nightcap or sticking to the appetizers.

Grade: B

Hearthstone Grill

Location: 306 Gatzmer Avenue, Jamesburg, New Jersey

I went here with the other half after seeing that it was added the the New Jersey Craft Beer club. They advertised that they brewed a few of their own beers as well as having some guest taps, so I was interested to see it, especially since it was only about 20 minutes from my house. The layout of the place itself was odd. The bar was to the right side when you walked in, but it was awkwardly closed in and quite small. The hostess station is by the bakery case, which then opens up to a medium sized dining room, which “featured” live music. The music was…interesting and really didn’t fit with the place. They had nothing on the table that advertised what beers their brewed. Instead, they had all of their beer offerings sloppily written on a few chalkboards on the wall. When I went to order one that was posted, I was told that they didn’t have it. I ordered a glass of the keg that replaced the beer I originally wanted and it was possibly one of the worst beers that I have ever had. I followed the beer up with a Diet Coke as I didn’t want to try anything else because of the first disastrous one.

Food: I had high hopes for the food here. They advertised having a wood pit that really imparted smoke into the food, making it extra delicious. Let’s start with the “melted cheese” appetizer. It was cheese in a small lodge pan that tasted like a briquette and was insanely hard to cut. Onto the entrees, where my tuna was good and the other half’s steak was only alright. For sides, the “maple glazed carrots” were atrocious. I think I’ve finally found something that has too much maple syrup. Follow this with the fact that the service was hit or miss and the fact that it was insanely overpriced, I definitely won’t be back.

Grade: D+

Hulmeville Inn

Location: 4 Trenton Road, Langhorne, Pennsylvania

I ended up at this place on a date once. This 200-year-old bar features about twenty different draft beers with a great selection. They constantly feature brews like Bell’s, Russian River, and Cigar City (which also happen to be beers that you can’t get in New Jersey). The ambiance is very casual with a bunch of flat screen televisions around the bar. One thing to remember, especially if you’re from New Jersey, is that they allow smoking in the bar, so if that’s something that bothers you, this isn’t the place to go. They also advertise a beer garden, although I went in the middle of winter, so I can’t comment on it. The staff was moderate friendly and beers were reasonably priced. One downfall? The parking lot is a bit small, so you may be stuck trying to find street parking. This place is definitely worth a try, especially if you’re searching for something that you can’t get in Jersey.

Food: I tried an order of pierogies, which were decent, but nothing over the top. The menu was typical bar food. Nothing to write home about.

Grade: B+

Isaac Newton’s

Location: 18 South State Street, Newtown, Pennsylvania

Newtown is a quaint little town in Pennsyltucky. This spot not only has some decent bar food, but one of the best bottle lists I’ve seen. They have a huge amount of taps and rotate them frequently. Make sure you sign up for their email newsletter as they constantly give updates about big beers going on tap. My only complaint ? They tend to tap their big beers at like noon on Wednesdays and only let you know the day before..if only I didn’t have a job! Their website is updated constantly and they have great selection on tap. There’s a huge parking lot in the back and I’ve never had a problem finding parking.

Food: This would be the biggest downfall of the place. I’ve never enjoyed the food here. It’s pretty much bar food, but not all that tasty.

Grade: B+

Jack Baker’s American Grill

Location: 801 State Route 33, Monroe, New Jersey

This place used to be Jack Baker’s Lobster Shanty. After a massive renovation, this is now a great sports bar in an otherwise dead area (it’s also the only bar with any craft beer in my area, so I end up here constantly). They have about 10 beers on tap, ranging from typical macros to DFH 60 minute.  They also have about 10-15 different bottled craft beers. But, I have a feeling that the beers sit for awhile, as you tend to see Flying Fish’s summer offering available year round. They also just have an odd choice of craft beers. They tend to have more of the off putting styles for the newbie. But there are lots of televisions around playing the local sports games.

Food: The food is basic bar food and brick oven pizza and it’s alright. But, you’re definitely not coming here for the food. The service is usually very good though.

Grade: C+

Johnny Brenda’s

Location: 1201 N. Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This combination restaurant/concert hall is in the Fishtown neighborhood in Philly. There is some limited outdoor seating, but I ate inside. When you walk in, the bar has about 25 seats and a pool table. It’s very dimly lit, to the point that it is difficult to see. The dining room is a bit brighter and the tables have lights in them. The beer selection is pretty good. There are 10 taps and 2 hand pumps, and a lot of the offerings are local. The draft list is written on chalkboards all around the restaurant and are updated as soon as a keg kicks. The service was a bit lacking as well, which was surprising due to the fact that the restaurant was almost empty. With so many other places in the area that do beer and food right, I wouldn’t rush back.

Food: I had been to Johnny Brenda’s a few years back and remember the food being outstanding. The menu had a lot of interesting options that highlighted locally sourced foodstuffs. We ended up having a salad and asking for it without onions as the other half can’t stand them. The salad came covered in onions. We both got sandwiches that were only alright, mine being a fish sandwich with bones in that immediately killed my appetite.

Grade: B-

Jose Pistolas

Location: 263 South 15th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

When you approach Pistola’s, you’ll most likely see a crowd at the small bar. There’s a reason for that. Despite only having 13 taps, there’s always something impressive. They have tap takeovers and brewery events often. Their bottle list is substantial as well, but I’ve never had to utilize it since I always want something on draft. The dining room is also small, but the building has three floors, so whenever there’s a large event, they spread it throughout the floors. My biggest complaint is that the only bathroom is on the third floor.

Food: If you like Mexican food, this is the place. The prices are reasonable and the food is innovative and incredibly tasty. My recommendation would be the brussels sprout tacos with a shallot sauce that could only be characterized as addictive. You need to go to this place if you like tacos and beer.

Grade: A

Khyber Pass Pub

Location: 56 S. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA

This place is located in the Old City section of Philadelphia. What struck me while walking up to the bar is how off-putting it looked. The outside looks like a neglected dive bar from the 80s. There are neon brewery signs in the window. When you walk in, it doesn’t look much more inviting. Even on a sunny day, the bar is insanely dark. But, belly up to the bar and take a look at the draft list. The draft list is printed regularly and had a good selection of styles. They even stamped which beers they considered rare and had a list of kegs that were on deck. The staff seemed to be knowledgeable and served brews in clean and appropriate glassware, which is always appreciated. The walls are also covered in beer flags and tin tackers, so you really feel like you’re at home.

Food: We didn’t eat there, but it looked like it had a Southern influence with some barbecue.

Grade: A-

Kings Oak

Location: 1001 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This spot is located in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philly. When you walk up, you’ll see a nice outdoor area for seating, which looks like it could get crowded on a warm day. The bar is pretty and there are at least 6 televisions to watch sports on. They have about 8 beers on tap and maybe 10 different bottles, none of which are impressive, but they’re craft selections. That’s where the good parts start. They will not serve your bottle selection with a glass. When you ask for one, it will take them at least 15 minutes to procure you a glass. When you get it, it will be dirty.

Food: Awful and overpriced. We went for brunch and I got the chicken and biscuit. The biscuit was not cooked enough (and let me tell you, I love eating undercooked dough), the potatoes were undercooked and flavorless, my egg was overcooked and the chicken was greasy. The side of bacon that I got was so fatty that I couldn’t eat it. The cannoli french toast was edible, but nothing wonderful. The service was also abysmal. It really sets the bar high when you’re told that you have to sit inside because you’ve only made your reservation the day before and the restaurant is almost completely empty. It’s also great when you wait almost an hour in said empty restaurant for food. The icing on the cake is when the server takes your plate and seeing that it’s mostly full, doesn’t say anything. I can guarantee you, based on my experience, I would never spend another dime in this place.

Grade: F

Kite and Key

Location: 1836 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

One Sunday, the other half and I ventured across the river to spend the day in Philly. After a little bit of research, I found that they were tapping a keg of Bell’s Hopslam, which I had been searching out for awhile and hadn’t tried. Around 8 PM, I found myself walking into Kite and Key to try this elusive elixir. The bar itself was pretty dark with a decent amount of bar tables as well as about 10-15 seats at the bar. They had a great tap selection, with about 16 taps including a cask selection. The taps obviously rotated very quickly and it didn’t look like anyone was drinking a macro. The staff seemed knowledgeable about beer, but the clientele was eh. There were definitely a few ignorant comments that made me a bit uncomfortable, so much as to not want to go back. But, I’d be willing to give it another shot, probably in the day light.

Food: This could be one of the few places that I didn’t even bother to look at the menu, as we just came from having dinner, so no comment on the food.

Grade: B+

Kraftwork

Location: 541 East Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The other half and I were driving home from Philly and needed a place to stop for a snack. I’ve seen tap lists from this bar on websites and have been impressed. The bar, which has been open since 2010, greets you with a small outdoor dining area. When you pull open the door, the bar itself is impressive. The industrial theme has accents all over the bar, from the exposed brick to the door pulls to the metal cutout over the bar that says “Kraftwork.” The beer list is almost intimidating. There are 25 taps, one of them being a cask offering. They have a good mix of local offerings and different styles, so you can have whatever flavor of beer you’re in the mood for.

Food: The food selection was well above average. I ordered the Korean pork tacos, which were good, but really needed a bit more spice to them. The garlic and herb fries were alright, albeit nothing special, and the portion of huge. The standout to me was the pierogies that were served with a really flavorful creme fraiche complemented with an apple chutney. I would go back just for them.

Grade: A-

Maloney’s

Location: 119 Main Street, Matawan, New Jersey

I found this place when I was driving by it with my sister on the way to Keyport. This has one of the best beer lists that I’ve ever seen. They have a huge amount of taps and they rotate pretty frequently. The bottle list is extensive, but doesn’t really reflect what they have (i.e. they list summer seasonals all year long). The staff is knowledgeable and friendly. They also do beer dinners and tap takovers. The prices are pretty reasonable too. They have a beer club as well for the frequent visitors. The ambiance is a little lacking though. It’s pretty dark and the furniture looks worn. Update: They have redone the entire restaurant and the ambiance is much better and brighter looking.

Food: The usual bar food with an Irish flair. The onion rings are quite good and have a really nice dipping sauce.

Grade: A

Memphis Taproom

Location: 2331 E. Cumberland Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

You may have already heard of this beer bar because it’s been on the Food Network on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” When you walk up to the bar, you can see that they now have an outdoor area set up, complete with a food truck and picnic benches where they show movies on certain days. The bar is bright with a large television above it and high top bar tables. The dining area is in the back and also bright. The service is friendly and incredibly informative. They definitely know their stuff. They have an extensive bottle list as well, but their tap list usually has interesting offerings, so I’ve never had anything off the bottle list. Beers are poured into clean and correct glassware. When I was there during Philly Beer Week 2014, they even bought me a free beer. This place is not be missed.

Food: Come here hungry. The food is really fresh with innovative combinations and lots of offerings for vegans and vegetarians alike. The food comes out of the kitchen quickly and everything looks good. The fried pickle appetizer is not to be miss, nor is their smoked coconut club.

Grade: A+

Molly Maguire’s

Location: 1085 Central Avenue, Clark, New Jersey

As soon as you walk into this place, you’re struck by the fact it looks like every other Irish pub that you’ve been in. The bar is made of dark wood, it’s not well lit and they have Guinness on tap. The bar is pretty spacious, but tends to get very crowded on weekends. The staff tends to be hit or miss, you either get a really friendly and attentive server or have to tackle them to get service. They have a few different craft beers, and by a few, I mean 3. They are all out of the bottles and aren’t really anything impressive, although they are local.

Food: The food is typical Irish pub fare. It’s tasty, but really doesn’t go outside the box and won’t floor you. The prices are a bit excessive, but that’s not surprising given the area.

Grade: C+

Molly Maguire’s Black Point Inn

Location: 132 East River Road, Rumson, New Jersey

Molly Maguire’s looks a bit like a dive bar on the outside. The building has worn red brick and there really isn’t much to the outside of it. When you get into the building, it’s a completely different story. Lots of brand new televisions surround the impressive bar with booths all around. The booths have their own personal televisions built in. They also have a lot of Irish decorations around, which lets you know that you’re in an Irish pub. The beer selection isn’t great. They had 2 or 3 craft beers on tap, mostly from Carton. The rest of the beers are the normal macros with a few Irish selections as well.

Food: The food here is the high point of the place. Everything that I’ve had there has been good, from the fish and chips (which were exceptional) to the burgers to the chicken francaise (yes, in an Irish place, it makes no sense to me either) were incredibly tasty with generous portions. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

Grade: B-

Moore’s Tavern

Location: 402 West Main Street, Freehold, New Jersey

Another bar that’s owned by the same group that owns Baker’s. This one is located in Freehold and has two sections, the regular bar and the sports bar and dining room. The regular bar is a bit run down with older televisions. The sports bar has live music, lots of flat screen tvs and an updated decor. The beers available are alright, with a few craft beer selections like Chimay Blue, Lagunitas IPA and Smuttynose Old Brown Dog, all in bottles. There are no craft beers on draft.

Food: This is where they fall flat. The food is mediocre at best, inedible at worst. Their burgers are pretty bad, the pizza is alright. The entrees are hit or miss. This is not a place to go to for the food.

Grade: C+

Nip-N-Tuck Bar & Grill

Location: 23 Norwood Avenue, Long Branch, New Jersey

Located on a side street in Long Branch, this place is easy to drive by. Even when you go inside, it’s really not much to look at. It’s a dark dive bar with an interesting crowd. But, don’t let that dissuade you. They have a great selection of beers on tap. When I was there, they had Troegs Nugget Nectar, Kane Overhead and Weyerbacher Verboten to name a few. My biggest qualm with the place is that they don’t have any other glassware except pint glasses.

Food: The menu is not fancy by any means, but they have solid bar food. The burger I had was very good and the Long Branch fries were pretty tasty. The prices were incredibly reasonable.

Grade: B

North Brunswick Pub & Grill

Location: 1864 US 1 North, North Brunswick, New Jersey

This place, put simply, is a hole. It’s a dingy bar with very little to offer. It’s one step below dive bar. The service is borderline rude, the decor is nouveau frat house and beer is pretty much all macro. They may have had a Sam seasonal on as well. The only caveat that I will give is that I haven’t been there in awhile, so maybe it’s gotten better.

Food: It has typical bar food selections, nothing is really a standout. It’s edible.. There really wasn’t a redeeming thing about this place.

Grade: F

PJs Pour House

Location: 124 Haddon Avenue, Haddonfield, New Jersey

This would probably be my favorite beer bar in South Jersey. Featuring 18 different draft beers and 95 bottle offerings, there’s something for everyone to try at this place. It seems to always have a crowd, and there’s a reason. It has a great ambiance, complete with lots of flat screen televisions and comfy booths to sit back and enjoy a game and a brew. They have different specials, like Buck-a-shuck Wednesdays for the oyster lovers and Tuesdays $10 burger and a beer. They also have a beer festival annually in July, which I haven’t made my way out to yet.

Food: If not for the beer, I’d still stop by for the food. The pretzel bites come with a nearly addictive cheese sauce and the shrimp tostadas are top notch. And, who can say no to the truffle fries and a burger that’s perfectly cooked.

Grade: A+

Stuff Yer Face

Location: 49 Easton Avenue, New Brunswick, New Jersey

A New Brunswick institution, a beer drinkers paradise, I could go on…but I’ll just say, I love this place. It’s not fancy and the food isn’t gourmet, but it is A M A Z I N G. Their beer list is online and updated occasionally. The selection is pretty good and they tend to have really good seasonal beers. They also have an outdoor seating area which is nice in the summer. They also have a beer club, which gets you a gift certificate and a tee shirt if you drink 50 beers from there (not all at once). The ambiance is loud and the furniture is worn, but it works for this place. It also gets a college crowd, but not as douchey as The Old Bay. If you have not been here, go…immediately.

Food: The strombolis are to die for, as are the loaded fries. I haven’t actually had anything else because I like those things so much. The prices are reasonable as well.

Grade: A

Sun Tavern – Roselle Park

Location: 600 W Westfield Avenue, Roselle Park, New Jersey

When I lived in Roselle, before I was really into beer, this place was where I went constantly. The bartenders were nice and the booze was cheap. The bar was dark and the furniture worn, but it was close to home, making it incredibly convenient. After I had gotten into beer, I went back a few times, especially since they started advertising they had craft beer. When I asked what kinds of craft beer they had, the bartender gave me a blank stare. Their version of craft beer was Blue Moon and Leinenkugels. They did have Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on tap, which ended up being my go-to brew anytime I was there. The service in the bar was always hit or miss.

Food: The mainly served bar food which was in general, alright. The pizza was better than most places. Other selections were basic and mediocre at best. If you had other choices with better food and better beer, I’d go there.

Grade: C+

The Corner Foodery

Location: 1710 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I love Philly. It’s an absolutely wonderful city. One of my favorite things to do when in a city, is walk around. That’s how I found this place with the lawyer. We were headed to a famous doughnut shop in Philly (which was pretty good, by the way) and walked passed this. It’s a large bottle shop with a few taps that are available by the glass and for growler fills. The bottle selection is mind-blowing. They had all sorts of rare bombers available on the shelves, and each cold case was divided by style with at least 10 cold cases in total. The staff is friendly and knowledgable and polite. The space is nice with lots of televisions around to watch the games and plenty of space between tables, so you don’t feel like you’re sitting on top of someone else.

Food: I’ve only had a few of the food options here, but what I’ve had was really good. The artichoke dip was really flavorful, although the portion could have been a touch bigger. I’ve never had a sandwich there, but every time I see one come out of the kitchen, they look amazing.

Grade: A

The Crabs Claw Inn

Location: 601 Grand Central Avenue, Lavallette, New Jersey

I had seen a few things on NJCB about this place getting some craft beer in and having decent drafts. Also, one of the guys I used to work with always said that this was his favorite place, so I figured it was worth a try. I walked in and instantly noticed that my friend and I were the youngest people in here…by approximately 4 decades. I took a look at the beer menu and was impressed. From what it looked like, they had about 10 different drafts and a bunch that I either really liked or wanted to try. But, when the waiter came over, I tried to order them and was told they weren’t on tap. Then why have them on the menu? After trying to order five different beers that they didn’t have although they were listed, I decided on a vodka cranberry until I could look at their bottled beer list. This advertised 99 different bottles, albeit a lot were macros or imports. I noticed they had beer on the menu that hadn’t been brewed in three years (which needless to say, they didn’t have). I went through a few selections that they also didn’t have on their printed bottle menu and settled on a Molson Ice.

Food: Their food was alright, nothing impressive. The soup I had (the spicy crab) was pretty good. The tuna bites were also pretty good. What wasn’t good was how freaking overpriced they were. Couple that with awful, borderline obnoxious service and you have a pretty crappy dining experience.

Grade: D+

The Downtown

Location: 10 West Front Street, Red Bank, New Jersey

The Downtown is in the heart of Red Bank, with a decent sized dining room and bar. The bar has lots of flat screen tvs around, making it a great place to watch a game. But, the beer selection is pretty limited. All of the normal macros are on tap with very few craft beer selections. Last time I was there, they only had one, a local brew which was pretty tasty. The service is poor, especially once it gets crowded.

Food: This is the high point of the joint. The food here is pretty good, they term it “posh pub grub.” The short rib nachos are inventive and tasty. The brussels sprouts side is a must have.

Grade: B-

The Farm & Fisherman Tavern and Market

Location: 1442 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, New Jersey

This restaurant is nestled in an unassuming strip mall on one of the main highways in Cherry Hill. When you get inside, you can either go to the market, which sells sandwiches and has beers to go, or head to the restaurant, which has a separate bar area with large televisions. They have 6 different beers on tap, highlighting the local breweries. They have an extensive bottle list, but be prepared to pay top dollar for anything on there. The service is attentive without being annoying and quick. Everyone is very friendly.

Food: This was the low point of the place. We went for brunch and ordered the pumpkin pancakes and the Jersey eggs benedict. The pancakes were almost inedible due to having too much baking soda in the, and the hollandaise sauce on the eggs was decently spicy. That’s normally not an issue, but there was no indication on the menu that it would be a spicy hollandaise. The pancakes were also burnt. The burrata was alright, but the brussels sprouts that came with them were burnt, and not in the good “crispy” way. I would give the food another shot for lunch or dinner as all of the sandwiches that came out looked very good.

Grade: B+

The Ginger Man

Location: 11 East 36th Street, New York, New York

I’ve gotten much more open to going into NYC. I’m still all about Philly, but variety is the spice of life, right? I ended up at this bar for a beer before heading out to dinner. When I walked in, I knew I found a beer bar that I would fall in love with. The bar itself is quite spacious, with exceptionally high ceilings. In a city where you constantly feel crowded, you definitely feel like you have space in this place. The lighting, while dim, is definitely plentiful enough with the music dialed low enough to have in depth conversations about the nuances of IPAs. Beer signs and mirror are all over the walls and the bar, which is backed in copper sheeting, boasts 66 taps. You could spend a lot of time just trying to choose a beer. They had an extensive bottle list as well, but with that many taps, I didn’t see a need to even go to the bottle list. The service was pleasant without being pushy and the prices were definitely reasonable for the city. It’s a beer nerd’s dream and a great hangout spot.

Food: Since we were going to dinner, we didn’t try any of the food, but it looked like basic snacks to me.

Grade: A+

The Globe

Location: 20 East Front Street, Red Bank, New Jersey

This place is the quintessential dive bar. Located convenient on Front St, this bar is not only dark, but dingy and with an odd crowd as well. You may wonder why I went here often. They definitely do not have a great beer selection. In fact, I think they only have one or two craft beers (and that’s because they’re from Carton, which is a few miles up the road). The decor is worn, the floor is sticky and I’m not going to go into what the bathroom looks like. The service is pretty awful too.

Food: The food is typical bar food. The wings are pretty good here and have a nice, welcomed dose of spice. The mozzarella sticks are really good as well. It’s nothing spectacular, but hits the spot for a late night snack.

Grade: C-

The Old Bay

Location: 61 Church Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Another New Brunswick place that I found myself at multiple times. It’s modeled after a New Orleans restaurant with Mardi Gras posters covering the walls. There’s a pretty big college crowd, which can be douchey after hours. They have live music on weekends and usually charge a $5-$10 cover at the door. They have a bunch of different craft beers both on tap and in bottles that changes with frequency. Their beer menu also gives a brief summary of what to expect of the beer, which is nice for the craft beer newbie. The outdoor area is tiny, but has lots of outdoor heaters for chilly nights. They also send out a monthly email that has beers that will be on tap at some point during the month.

Food: The food is pretty good, but you’ll pay for it. I find that the appetizers are better than the entrees. One of my favorite things they offer is the cajun caesar salad.

Grade: B+

The Pickled Pig Pub

Location: 18756 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

This was another location that was featured on “Brewdogs” as being one of the best beer bars in Delaware. When you walk into the restaurant, which is located in a strip mall on the main highway in Rehoboth, you’re instantly struck by the large feeling of the restaurant. The bar area is relatively small and is in the back of the restaurant. The place has 14 beers on tap, with a generous selection of local selections from Mispillion River, Greenville, 16 Mile and DuClaw. They show the draft list on chalkboards around the restaurant as well as a menu left at the table. The bottle list has 50 beers and the selections range from uber local to international stars from Belgium. The prices of the beers were high, but not insane. Most craft beers ranged from $6-$8 per glass. The service was decent and attentive, which wasn’t surprising given that the place was almost empty when I was in there. If the food was better, I would have given this a much better grade.

Food. I had really high hopes for this place, especially since they have a sandwich with 3 different types of pork. My pulled pork sandwich, which was Carolina style was nearly inedible. It had way too much vinegar. The other half got the pork sandwich that was insanely rich and needed something to cut the richness.

Grade: B

The Pour House

Location: 640 Shrewsbury Avenue, Tinton Falls, New Jersey

The Pour House, not related to the amazing beer bar of the same name in South Jersey is an abject dump. I hate to say it like that, but there isn’t a nice way to put it. I ended up here on a St. Patrick’s Day. The dining room and bar are worn and are in desperate need of updating and cleaning. I could deal with all of this if the beer was decent. It’s not. Their craft offerings are limited to Palm (which was decent), Blue Moon and Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.

Food: They have a lot of selection on the menu. None that I’ve had were good. I mean, they’re edible, but that’s about all I can say.

Grade: C+

The Pub on Passyunk East

Location: 1501 Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

When you walk up to POPE, as it’s affectionately called, it looks like an absolute dive. POPE has a special place in my heart because it was the first beer bar I ever went to in Philly. When I walked in during Philly Beer Week 2014 for a Bell’s event, it was absolutely packed. Their 14 draft line selections are listed on chalkboards around the dark and dingy bar and the back of the restaurant. They tend to get pretty rare selections, so it’s always worth a stop. The service is usually good, especially when they’re not packed for Philly Beer Week. They always use the correct glassware and if nothing on the draft list tickles your fancy, you can pick something from their extensive 80+ bottle list. But, there are better places to go in Philly. The bathroom is small and gross and the bar is almost like a black hole, that’s how dark it is. It’s also really, really loud when it’s crowded, to the point that the other half and I were texting to each other across the table because we couldn’t hear each other talk.

Food: I’ve never eaten there, so no comments on the food. They did have 4 different specials while I was there.

Grade: A-

The Spot

Location: 1506 Richmond Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey

The Spot is a place that I had seen a lot about on different beer websites. They always seemed to have a great selection of beer, and what goes better with beer than pizza? I went with my sister at about 1500 on a Sunday and it was dead. Literally, we were the only ones in there. The ambiance was really impressive, though. Each booth around the bar had their own personal television that they could control and the menu was extensive. Beer-wise, they had 11 craft taps that the bartender told me changed regularly. When I was there, some of the selections included Ithaca Flower Power, Sam Adams Norse Legend and Brooklyn Summer Ale. They had about 23 craft bottles. I also thought I saw some beer towers hanging around. My favorite part of The Spot was the multiple sizes of beer. I had to drive, so I stuck with the 9 ounce pours. They also had sampler paddles as well to do beer flights. Prices were reasonable. One qualm was the service. The waitress was pretty awful, but the knowledgeable bartender made up for it. Update: I went back at the end of Summer 2013 and the service was much better.

Food: The food was hit or miss for me. I really liked the pierogies appetizer that was served with onions and sour cream. But, the pizza for me was way too underdone and it was obvious that they cut it right out of the oven, so the cheese went everywhere except on the pizza. I would give them another shot and just order it well done this time.

Grade: B+

Triumph Brewing Company – New Hope

Location: 400 Union Square, New Hope, Pennsylvania

Much like their location in Princeton, this seems to be an institution. But, there are a few key differences from the Princeton location. First of all, parking here is much simpler. They have a lot directly in front of the restaurant. This location also has 7 beers on tap, with one of the 7 usually being a cask offering. This location also has growlers and live music, so be prepares for it to be loud. This location also has an outdoor space where you can dine or just have a brew under the heat lamps if it’s chilly.

Food: The food at this location seems to be more interesting and slightly better in flavor than the Princeton location. I still find that the food is overpriced at this location as well. They have a really good selection of appetizers that utilize local ingredients.

Grade: B

Triumph Brewing Company – Princeton

Location: 138 Nassau Street, Princeton, New Jersey

This seems to be like an institution in Princeton. It can get insanely crowded on the weekends and the beer isn’t that great. They only offer their own beers, which usually are mediocre, although they try to have about six different offerings. If you happen to find one that you fall in love with, you can take it home for about $15 in a Triumph growler. It’s also a bit pricey and has a cover on some nights (especially when they have music and you can’t hear yourself think). The service is pretty good, but can be slow sometimes due to the crowds. Update: I was just there in September 2013 and the service was pretty much awful. It’s really cool when the server tries to argue with your date about something being on the menu when it’s printed in big letters on it.

Food: The food is definitely better than the beer, although a bit overpriced. The offerings range from paninis and sandwiches to full out entrees. They also have a solid line up of appetizers.

Grade: B-

Twin Light Tap House

Location: 128 Bay Avenue, Highlands, New Jersey

Located right on Bay Avenue, Twin Light has a quiet ambiance with a few televisions around the bar. Every time that I’ve been, the beer selection has been exceptional. They don’t have a huge amount of taps, but it ensures that the beer that you’re getting is really fresh. They tend to get a lot of rare beers and their bottle selection is pretty extensive.  The prices are pretty reasonable and on more than one occasion, I’ve driven there on a Sunday for brunch. Update: These guys were nailed by Sandy and have been closed ever since.

Food: As good as the beer selection is, I think the food is even better. The menu is creative and inventive and always solid, no matter what you order. The jalapeno poppers are sliced and grilled halves of jalapenos filled with an aged cheese…and have become an addiction for me. The chorizo benedict, which has a poached egg topping chorizo and an english muffin with a cheese hollandaise sauce could be one of the best brunch items that I’ve ever had.

Grade: A

Two Stones Pub

Location: 2 Chesmar Plaza, Newark, Delaware

This was another beer bar that was ranked as one of the best on the “Brewdogs” episode about Delaware. When you pull into the plaza that Two Stones is in, you may be scared. It’s next to a Subway restaurant in a strip mall and doesn’t look like a grand beer bar. Once you open the door, that all changes. The place is split into a bar area and a restaurant. It is dark with lots of tin tackers and beer bottles on the walls. The draft selection is written on chalkboards around the place. There are 25 beers on draft with 1 cask selection. They also have flights available as well. They ofter a taster of any beer you want to order to make sure you like it, because once you buy it, it’s yours (which I understand and I can’t imagine sending a beer back because I didn’t like it). The servers are wonderful and have good knowledge about beer. They also have a bottle selection, of which I didn’t research too much because I was so focused on the draft selection.

Food: The food was amazing. We ended up stopping here twice because the food was so good. I had a brussels sprout appetizer that was marinated in soy, fried and service with a sriracha mayo. They were amazing. They also have an appetizer called “dirty kettle chips” which were really flavorful and featured kettle chips with bacon, cheddar cheese fondue, and bacon. The pretzels were also a really nice snack. I also enjoyed the barbecue burger that was really juicy and perfectly done.

Grade: A+

Vault Brewing Company

Location: 10 South Main Street, Yardley, Pennsylvania

The other half suggested that we go to this place after seeing it on a Thrillist article. The brewery is housed in an old bank, complete with vaults (get it, Vault Brewing?). The bar itself is large and the ceilings are high, making the restaurant feel very spacious. We were sat in the back dining room and I ordered a sampler of 4 of their beers. They had 5 on tap, which begs the question, “Why not just have samplers of 5?” The beers ranged from “meh” to “pretty good.” Their Sweet Potato Ale on nitro had me curious, but was a big letdown. If you find any beers you like, you can buy a growler and take them home.

Food: We started with the buffalo cauliflower which was nicely charred. The kale salad had promise, but was majorly under-dressed. We also got a duck pizza which was way too sweet due to having both candied bacon and honey on it. The food had so many possibilities, but was missing something.

Grade: B+

Comments
  1. Dom says:

    I scanned this and read the descriptions of the bars I have been to. Good job. Dub Square in Bordentown is a great spot, check out their Cherry Hill location sometime, bigger, better beer selection, not quite as ‘in theme’ though.

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