|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 and beyond 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 more!
|Take The Rails to The Ales to...
West Caldwell and Metuchen, NJ
The Suburban Tavern
555 Passiac Ave
West Caldwell, NJ
Located on the second floor in a retail complex, The Suburban Tavern has a quality look from
the outside featuring a comfortable, attractive outdoor patio. Sadly, since there was on the
ground the only option was to venture inside. It was not remotely near the upscale look of the
exterior. Overly dark and dingy, the atmosphere was off- putting; in a word the place looked
dirty. Small windows along the side were either smoked or have not seen a cleanser in
months. But forget that, we're here for beer. I counted twelve taps with several decent usual
suspects craft offerings such as Dogfish 60 Minutes (yawn) and Brooklyn Lager. As I looked
around the bar the big beer sellers seemed to be Coors Light and Yuengling. On the bright
side they had an amazingly fresh Guinness on tap that was served properly and in the correct
glass. On the downside, the bartender knew nothing about craft beer and seemed
disinterested in customers other than his friends at the opposite side of the bar. Overall this
place has a good location but not much more for a craft beer drinker who enjoys quality beer in
a welcoming atmosphere. From what I could tell their success seems to be due to a youthful
crowd who opt for loud music and a shots over a quality beer. They do serve food and the
menu looked interesting but as you might guess I didn't stay to test it.
For beer and atmosphere their rating would be 1 engine but I'm adding a 1/2 engine
for the fresh Guinness properly poured. I'm also adding another 1/2 engine because
of their half off beers Happy Hour that runs M-F from 4 to 7 PM
I rate The Suburban Tavern 2 out of 5 engines
379 Bloomfield Ave
Bring on the frat boys and girls and anyone with questionable IDs - you'll love hanging out
with your Bud Light and shot downing contemporaries. Actually that might be a bit harsh since
the Ringside does have some decent craft offerings if that's a fair term for the several Sam
Adams offerings on tap. The large bar has an appropriate dive feel which I liked but the vibe is
strictly for the young crowd looking for inexpensive, high octane drinks or cheap swill beer. I
decided to go with the theme and ordered a bottle of Rolling Rock. After two more I began to
appreciate how much fun terrible beer can be as long as there's a dart board and pool table
near-by along with an very efficient, friendly bartender. The bar was adorned with signs
featuring upcoming bands of dubious quality and various drink specials. On that account they
deserve their due - prices are cheap, but then again you get what you pay for. I'm guessing
they have food but I didn't see a menu so I can't give you my take on it. I spoke to several
regulars who lauded the music (country on occasion) and the burgers. Overall there are many
other places who make the dive bar concept more attractive even for craft beer fans. This
place tries but it's target demographic doesn't foster reaching such lofty goals.
I give Ringside Pub 1 and 3/4 out of 5 engines
Hope you get a chance to stop in at my new location
The Northside Lounge
100 Brooks Blvd, Manville, NJ 08835
A great menu and some of the finest craft beer anywhere!
Stop in if you are in the area and look for me in the kitchen or behind the taps
and please 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