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Who has the best set of taps?

I like Bukowski's and The Squealing Pig but am looking for other good alternatives for good beer selection with a decent food menu as well. Any suggestions of other places in Boston or not too far out of town?

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  1. Redbone's in Davis Sq, Somerville has a good selection, and even a neat roulette-style wheel that lists them all to assist when you just can't decide which one to try next. And they serve some very decent barbecue, for New England. (I now duck and withdraw quickly before one of the many Redbone-disparagers out here throws a rib at me).

    6 Replies
    1. re: BobB

      I spun the wheel the other night. Le Chouffe (sp?) is what I got - a trappist style beer served in a small wine glass. $7.50 a pop. They also had a great cast conditioned christmas porter on tap - warm, creamy and perfect on a cold night. The Mexican didn't like it. He'd rather have his Bud. But both he and I love the beers at Redbones. It's just a fun place to hang out at the bar and graze.

      1. re: birdy30

        Close, it's "La Chouffe", a tasty Belgian strong. Not to mention, their funny little gnome logo guy is pretty amusing :)

      2. re: BobB

        Guess the question is whether they pinched the wheel of beer idea from Bukowski or is it the other way around?

        1. re: Bob Dobalina

          Other way around, I believe - I'm pretty sure that Redbone's has been around a good bit longer than Buk's, although I admit I don't know when Redbone's introduced the wheel of indecision.

          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            Good question. I've never been to Bukowski's but I'd guess Redbone's has had it for close to 20 years. How long has Bukowski's been around?

            1. re: BobB

              Redbones put in that wheel at some point in the mid-nineties. I remember for sure they had it by '98, don't think it was there yet in '94 before I moved away from the area for a few years. I've never been to Bukowski's.

        2. Deep Ellum. They're getting known more and more for the very good Golden Age-inspired cocktails, but they have an extensive and high-quality beer list too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

            Deep Ellum by a long shot. It's not just the selection, it's the care applied to the lines, the gas, the pour... all the nerdy stuff actually makes a difference.

          2. Great taps at The Publick House in Brookline; as well as The Roadhouse, up the street--hard to beat on beer selection. I like Cambridge Common and The Other Side as well.

            Best food of those?


            8 Replies
            1. re: Trumpetguy

              Well, the Publick House and Roadhouse (same owners), have inconsistent food and generally lousy service. I've never been to The Other Side, so I'd have to say the Cambridge Common of those four.

              I'd throw James Gate into the mix and Brendan Behan. The Behan doesn't serve food, but you can bring in your own: great area options are El Oriental de Cuba and the Papuseria right next door.

              All that being said - I think Deep Ellum is the winning choice, IMO.

              1. re: bostonbroad

                Deep Ellum does not exactly have a stellar rep on Chowhound for its food either, a search would reveal some less than positive feedback about all except some of the pub foods like chili, which is delicious.

                Do James Gate and the Behan serve interesting draft beers now (ex. Founders, Rogue, Green Flash, Bear Republic, and belgian beers)? Been ages but I recall pure regulars on tap at both. Would be nice to find a good beer oasis in JP.

                1. re: PaulB

                  Actually, I gotta say there has been tremendous improvement in the food at Deep Ellum. There are all sorts of winning items on the menu now. It's slightly mean to say this, but it's true: the food at Deep Ellum improved enormously once Josh Velazquez left. He was trying to do things that were beyond either his own or that tiny kitchen's capabilities. The food is simpler now, and worlds better.

                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                    That is great to hear, look forward to giving the broader menu another go sometime this week. I was unaware there had been a chef change.

                    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                      I love the breakfast buritto/chimichanga at Deep Ellum.

                  2. re: bostonbroad

                    Deep Ellum food always seems to be an "in process" discovery/disappointment-event, and their beer choice seems expensive and limited vis Publick House IMO.

                    I'll enthusiastically second Public House.

                    1. re: steinpilz

                      Yes, the beer at Deep Ellum is expensive.

                  3. re: Trumpetguy

                    More specifically, the chief virtue at The Publick House is the astonishing range of Belgian and Belgian-style brews that are available on tap. And some really lovely small brewer American alternatives as well -- I have particularly fond recent memories of trying the Rogue vanilla stout. I'm not as down on the food at Publick as many on this group, at least I've found the waterzooi to be fairly consistently tasty.

                    Definitely agreed on Redbones for a nice selection of drafts, bottles and grub.

                  4. Thanks for the suggestions. Deep Ellum is now on my radar. I had forgotten about the decent selection at Redbones and yes, I have spun the wheel of indecision! How can you not???

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Essex County

                      I have a question, as someone who's been to Redbones several times, and never had the guts to spin the wheel: are you required to order whatever it lands on? Even if it's PBR?

                      1. re: brandywiner

                        It's not like they can throw you in jail if they don't, but that's part of the fun - no?

                        A friend of mine seems to hit the Black Label on the wheel @ Bukowski every time she spins the wheel. Them's the breaks.

                        1. re: brandywiner

                          No-I've seen Raebones bar staff ask people if they want a respin if it lands on something like PBR. Many take what it lands on (part of the fun as jgg13 stated) but staff is flexible.

                          Bukowski Inman used to (still does?) have a sign stating if it lands on it you get it.

                      2. No mention of Sunset Grill and Tap ? Aways blown away with there beer selection; A definite must check out.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: bot8

                          Sunset has the selection but the quality of their draft beer is dodgy overall as IMO you can't keep 112 different draft beers tasting fresh; many stay on for way too long and taste it. For the prices they are charging these days I prefer Deep Ellum up the street.

                          1. re: PaulB

                            Agreed - way too many beers to keep the quality consistent. A friend of mine worked there and he'd just run the tap for awhile if someone ordered something that he knew wasn't constantly selling, in an attempt to clear the old stuff out of the lines (he did that for me, at any rate =). But even then, who knows how long that keg has been sitting there?

                          2. re: bot8

                            I find the food so annoying at Sunset (cheese!) that I'd generally rather not go there and be punished by the food.

                          3. If hudson isnt too far away the Horseshoe has a nice selection and not bad pub food either http://www.horseshoepub.com/beerlst.asp

                            1. I am happy to have a topic I think I can weigh in on with some confidence. Here are my choices:

                              The Independent, Union Square, Somerville great beer and love the food on the bar side:

                              Cafe Gulu Gulu, Salem:

                              Wild Horse Cafe, Beverly:

                              Decent beer selection, but my favorite pub,

                              Kitty O'Shea's, Beverly:

                              Honorable Mention:
                              Black Cow, Hamilton and Newburyport:

                              1. Since it hasn't been mentioned yet, I will throw in Atwood's on Cambridge St. in Cambridge (too far away to be included in the Inman neighborhood, but technically not in East Cambridge...).

                                Very good beer selection, with several rotating/seasonal taps that change every few weeks. Plus the food is generally above-average pub food. IMHO, the beer selection is a small notch below that of Deep Ellum, but the food choices are better--and a clear winner when you take price into consideration.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                                  Seconded. Atwood's is a fine place. Totally unpretentious high quality drink & food, and music.

                                  1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                                    For you Atwood's fans - I went once in the summer and had a great meal, only to return in the fall to find that there was a new chef, a new menu that was scaled down and did not seem as interesting. Food seemed to have lost its zing compared to the first visit - any thoughts on the changes to the chow there?

                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                      I did notice that they simplified the food menu. Everything was still good though as far as I could tell. Maybe a little less ambitious, but not worse. Beer selection is still top notch.

                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                        I'm a pretty solid regular, living only a few blocks away (and a big fan of the music that goes on) so have "lived" the ups and downs of the menu.

                                        Their original menu is still my favorite and I noticed that loss of "zing" when they switched chefs. But it was still very solid to above average pub food in my opinion. The menu has kept evolving, however, as the chef perhaps got his feet under him. Another major revision took place shortly before Christmas and looks a lot more interesting. Looking forward to my first crack at it (beyond their crunchy fish sandwich which I've had for lunch before but that has now made the dinner menu) tonight in fact.

                                        Besides the food and music their beer selection, gas fireplace and friendly staff keep me coming back (and softened the blow of the loss of the B-Side that was also walking distance for me...).

                                        1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                                          Yeah, even if the food wasn't spectacular, at least relative to pubs (which it was the last time I was there, but that sounds like before the chef change), I'd still really recommend this place. It's a bit out of the way for me, but I do love going there. The ambiance is great, their set of taps is great, the staff friendly, etc.

                                          1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                                            Thanks for the feedback. Sounds like it's worth another try.

                                      2. I've had several fantastic sandwiches and a great beer selection at The Lower Depths Tap Room in Kenmore Square (also owned by Bukowski's owners).