After a six month writing hiatus in which I survived several stints of alcoholism, no cable TV, and one adventurous crack binge, the Erie Bar Review is back and better than ever! Seriously though, I’ve been busy as shit lately and just didn’t have the time. My apologies to all the (3 or 4) devoted fans of the blog. Since my last post in June, we killed Osama Bin Laden and Tebow Mania has taken over the country. Don’t worry though, sometime during the offseason, while everyone thinks he’s in Africa doing missionary work, he’ll get busted for a DUI with a coked-out hooker in his passenger seat. I’m calling it now!
We’ll kick off the new year with a review of The Tap House, located at 4th and State. Right off the bat I have to say I’m a HUGE fan of this place. Before I decided to review The Tap House, I had only been there a two or three times. Now that I’ve spent more time at the place, trying new beers and tasting the food, I realize how much value it adds to the city of Erie. First of all they have arguably the best craft beer selection in town, offering a variety of ales, stouts, lagers - pretty much anything you can think of. I don’t consider myself a beer connoisseur, but I’m pretty damn close. I pride myself on having a knack for finding a good hoppy IPA (India Pale Ale) and The Tap House never fails at satisfying my hop-activated taste buds. According to one of their bartenders, they update the 22-beer draft menu about every other day, which is a blessing for beer lovers. Here’s a sample of draft list from December:
How many of those beers have you heard of? Three? Maybe four? That’s the beauty of it. I hate to use the phrase kid in a candy store, but there’s really no better way to describe my feelings the first time I was at The Tap House. It’s like the first time you make out with a girl; you just want to go out and tell everyone about how great it was and how next time you plan on feeling up her boobies, and maybe the time after that you’re going to get a hand job. Same goes for The Tap House, but instead of boobs and hand jobs you’re telling everyone about you only got to try the Troegs Mad Elf Christmas Ale today, however tomorrow you’re going for the Bell’s Cherry Stout.
Along with the 20-plus beers on tap, there’s also an impressive menu of bottled beer, including one of my all-time favorites, Chimay Grande Reserve. You can sample as many brews as you want, just like Sam’s Club, but without the old ladies. They have wine and liquor too for those stubborn people who refuse to drink beer.
Let’s side track for a minute to admire an industry that has now become commonplace in just about every American city: local craft breweries. Do me a favor and read this short article on the History of Craft Breweries that I found when trying to google the difference between a craft beer and a microbrew, which by the way is not worth looking into because you’ll never figure it out. It’s like asking which Jonas brother you’d like to kill first. In my opinion (which is never wrong), craft breweries are larger than microbreweries. So Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada would be examples of craft breweries, while little known local companies like Lavery Brewing Company on 12th Street would be a microbrewery. With that being said, I’d kill the youngest brother first. Anyways, the one thing from that article that really surprised me was the fact that in 1980 there were only 8 craft breweries. The Tap House thrives on these type of beers, so I felt it was worth mentioning.
There’s never really been a place quite like it, and I’m not just talking about the extensive list of microbrew and craft beers. The other trait that gives The Tap House a leg up on the competition is class, something Erie lacks citywide. I’ve heard the Tap House referred to as a yuppie bar, and in some ways it is. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means you shouldn’t go there to get shitfaced on a Friday night; you’d look like an asshole. It’s not like Boardwalk where you’re expected to act like a drunken douchebag, trying to grind on every desperate slut on the dance floor. You have to appear…how do I say this…mature? I know this is tough for those of you still stuck in the college freshman way of life. Although I’ll have to admit, after drinking a couple Old Curmudgeons, maintaining any level of class could be impossible.
All in all, I’d put The Tap House as one of my top three drinking establishments in town. Although their prices are higher than what you’re probably used to ($5-$6 per drink on average), it’s justified in the quality of beer. The best time to go is during happy hour, which is from 5-7pm where they have half off drafts and appetizers. As for the food, I’ve tried the pizza muffins, quesadilla, buffalo chicken sandwich, and the margarita pizza. I was more than happy with all of them. Hell, even if the food was awful I’d still go to this place because of the beer. Also keep in mind that the food prices aren’t bad at all, which makes happy hour an even better value. I’d suggest getting there no later than 5:30 on most weekdays because it gets packed faster than the gym after new years.
Since day one The Tap House has been a popular place, so don’t expect it to go away anytime soon. If you haven’t been there yet, then get your ass to 4th and State this winter, or you’ll regret it. Besides, have I ever let you down?