|Baker Street Brewery's founder and head brewer Art Hannemann takes you
on a journey to find the ales. Catch the train for Arty's ride to the New Jersey
suburbs in search of, what else, great beer!
It's going to be a fun trip as Arty reviews and rates a new stop each month
as he takes the rails to the ales.....and beyond!
|Take The Rails to The Ales to...
Here we go again - off to check out several places suggested by our readers.
It was so much fun last month I thought I'd do it again. I picked three
places random from the many sent to me from readers. You guys
are the best! My designated driver is ready (poor guy) so let's get
started as we go "off the rails".
Nicole's Ten Restaurant & Bar
246 State Route 10
Randolph, New Jersey
Nicely appointed restaurant with small but attractive bar to the side. Our designated driver
had eaten here several times and gave the food a rave review, however this time it's all about
the beer. And there were problems from the outset. First we were given an out of date beer
menu. When we questioned it we were given a different one that also was inaccurate. Finally
when we received a correct one we found that several of the IBUs listed were woefully
incorrect. When we asked the bartender he had no idea about any of the beers. He called in
another bartender, a supposed expert ,and he told us that the on-tap Carton Boat beer was an
Imperial IPA at "around 8% ABV". When we said the beer was actually a session IPA well
under 5% ABV (4.2% actually) he loudly, with an arrogant, condensing tone, insisted he was
correct. Hard to believe that a bar with 13 quality taps and a place that seemingly prides
itself on quality in all areas would tolerate such blatant disrespect for the fine craft beers (not
to mention arguing with customers). I would have rated them at least 4 out of 5 engines but
am deducting half an engine for not updating the beer menus and one full engine for having
an untrained staff that doesn't even recognize their own need for a higher beer IQ.
I rate Nicole's Ten 2 1/2 out of 5 engines.
NJ Bar & Grill
100 Randolph Ave.
Mine Hill, New Jersey
A neighborhood sports bar with quality craft taps is not easy to find but here's one worth
seeking out. Located in a house like nondescript building the attractive and updated pub has a
welcoming, warm, bright vibe. The place has recently expanded their dining area, replaced
the bar, and, best of all, added taps. Twelve of their sixteen taps were solid craft brews with
two from The Shed - a hard to find item in NJ. The bartenders were not only knowledgeable
about beer but seemed to take pride in it's proper handling and presentation. Their
enthusiasm about beer, especially bartender Patrick, was a breath of fresh air after visiting
the more upscale Nicole's Ten. The place has a lot of work to do before being a beer traveler's
destination stop but it's on the way. I intend to return and that says it all. Because several of
their taps were wasted with the likes of Michelob Ultra and Bud Light I would have rated them
3 and 1/2 engines. However the excellent service merits an additional half engine.
I give NJ Bar & Grill a total of 4 engines
13 South Street
Morristown, New Jersey
Warning: this place was implicated in the recent Operation Swill crackdown in which bars were
caught serving cheap liquor to its customers in the guise of higher quality brands. That's hard to do
with beer but considering everything here seems to target the under 25 yr. old crowd who are likely
neophytes in the craft beer world, it might be possible. There is a long bar along an exposed brick
wall and an additional bar toward the rear. The long bar has an ice ribbon for the customer to place
his drink on to keep cold. That alone should tell you about the seriousness of this place when it
comes to really good craft beer. Ah, guys, serve your Coors Light ice cold but please don't render a
great craft beer tasteless by doing the same. Anyway, they have 22 taps with about half being the
usual craft suspects. Nothing special but a beer person could survive without too much trouble.
Bottle list is decent but that's about it. If you're a craft beer novice there are worse places; if you're
even just slightly beyond that level there are many better ones. I'm deducting a 1/4 engine from
their 2 engine rating for their involvement in the Operation Swill investigation.
I rate Sona Thirteen 1 3/4 engines.
Hope you get a chance to stop in at my new restaurant in the Bradley Gardens section
of Bridgewater NJ. Bring your own great beer and enjoy my great food!
Neil's All American Grill,
85 Old York Road Bridgewater NJ. 908-300-8658.
Chicken Specialties, Sloppy Joes, Subs, Falafels, Burgers
Cheesesteaks, Salads, Vegetarian Menu, Italian Specialties and
All kinds of crazy stuff. BYOB !
Stop in if you are in the area and mention you read my column!
Here's some good info on planning your own Rails To Ales trip. First step go to
www.njtransit.com web site. Then click on train schedules. Next click on "use our map
to plan your trip." Now select your train station on the map. And next select your destination
on the map. A new page appears and you want to select weekday, holiday or weekend
accordingly. A new page appears with your schedule of departing times and length of travel
time. Print this up and then go to the bottom of the schedule and it will say click here for
return schedule--click away. Now print this page up as well and you have all the info you
need to plan your trip. Remember to allow walking and drinking time. And of course if you
go off the rails like I often do but sure to have a designated driver!
Gotta catch my train back-- see you at my next stop!
Remember to leave the car at home and......Take The Rails To The Ales !!!!
Five engines= the very best
Four engines= excellent
Two engines= fair
One engine= bad news
Zero engines=stay away
For the complete listing of all
Rails to Ales