Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brewpubs Rock

The Gilded Otter in New Paltz, NY

Brewpubs occupy a small but growing niche in the restaurant business. Competing with TGI Friday's, Chili's, or P.F. Chang's is especially difficult when you don't have access to the same Grade-D meat and industrial grade chicken crushers that really allow a successful restaurant to save pennies on every dollar. How's a small non-franchised restaurant supposed to compete with that? It's simple, brew beer!

With a few notable exceptions*, most Brewpubs are one-of-a-kind (or at most two-of-a-kind.) I personally try and avoid chains as often as possible. They generally have a disinterested staff, poor quality food and even poorer quality beer selections. I realize that the appeal of a $10 steak dinner is something most unenlightened American's can't turn their nose up at, but they're  really choosing to ignore the low quality of the meat, preparation, and freezer burn on most products.

My favorite anecdote about T.G.I. Friday's is the story of when my friend asked if he could have more chips for his spinach and artichoke dip. He still had quite a bit of dip left and wanted to smear the rest directly on his arteries (using some festive colored taco chips.) The reply he received was less that satisfactory and speaks volumes about the modern restaurant business:
"The chips come in a package with the dip, we can't give you any more." Since when were restaurants glorified reheating stations for T.V. dinners?

Man this high horse chafes a bit after a while.

The best thing about brewpubs is that they generally have a seasonal menu, cook the food using regular ingredients, and incorporate their beer into their recipes. Of course, the full gamut of fresh house-made beer also compliments the experience. The really astounding thing is that they often cost little more than the big chains, although you'll have to look elsewhere for Bud Light.

Note*: Rock Bottom are a chain "Brewpub." There may be others, but I have yet find one. Their food is almost exactly like the big chains and the beer pretty much sucks. It's sort of like a brewery themed Friday's. Often, they don't even brew the beer on premises but rather use their collective factory space (spread across all of their locations) to specialize a restaurant to a single variety. I could rant about them and their "award winning" beer for an entire post, but to sum it up: Keep Away.

Have a favorite local brew pub? Drop me a line in the comments below!


  1. Vacation last year was spent visiting several individual brew pubs in Michigan.  Not only were the beers unique but the food was too.  my absolute favorite was Dark Horse in Marshall Michigan.  I spent a lot of time there while working in Marshall and along with great beers, the pizzas were the best and the customers were welcoming.

  2. I've had some stuff from Dark Horse, they must be pretty big if I can get
    bottles in NJ!

    Pizza and beer is always a winning combination, especially when it's in a
    brewpub. Thanks for the comment!