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Do You Give Brewpubs a Pass On Their Food?

Do you give brewpubs a pass on their food? I don’t. And often when I’ve complained to friends about the quality of brewpub food many will respond to me “well, what do you expect, it’s a brewpub”.
So are your expectations of the food at brewpubs low? Are they lower than what they would be for say your favorite, go-to, neighborhood pizza place for instance? For me most don’t come close to that; and is that too much to ask? If so, why?

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  1. It is a kind of a crap shoot at these places. Actually though, as a lover of quality beer, my problem with brewpubs is not so much the food, but rather the beer they make, which is sometimes passable (and often not), but rarely noteworthy. There are a few exceptions I've encountered in my travels, but by and large brewpubs seem to be a gimmick concept that has little to do with good beer. It is no wonder that they come and go with such frequency. There are a handful however that are definitely the exception and actually take the time to skillfully brew and properly age their beer. There are many more, however, that are only interested turning out quickly made product by brewers with questionable experience, training, and skill. But again...there are exceptions.

    1 Reply
    1. re: The Professor

      I live in Ann Arbor and we have three (!) brewpubs within a couple blocks of each other. Arbor Brewing Co., very good beer and good food...the owners try to use as much organic and locally sourced stuff as possible; Grizzly Peak has pretty decent beer and and I think very good (and higher priced) food. I love their mussels in tomato-beer broth with andouille sausage and whole cloves of roasted garlic; and recently opened Blue Tractor BBQ which has OK beer and a large BBQ-oriented menu. But I don't consider them as much of a brewpub as a restaurant that serves their own beer. There used to be a place called Leopold Brothers which had not so great beer and more "bar food" type chow, but they distilled some killer vodka and gin (they've since moved to Colorado). I don't think any of these places crank the beer out. Arbor Brewing has been around a long time and hosts fun monthly beer tastings.

    2. I agree. My expectations are that I will get decent pub fare (burgers, wraps, sandwiches etc...) so when I come across a brewpub where the chef and the brewmaster are in sync I am very happy. My two surprises in the past year have been Allentown Brew Works in Allentown, PA and Smuttynose in Portsmouth, NH. Both paid as much attention to the food as the brew and since both have won beer awards that says a lot. Trained waitstaff that can talk food and beer and pairings goes a long way with me.

      1. NEVER! I search for great brew and great grub. I rarely find both in the same place.

        1. We have 2 in downtown Des Moines. Court Ave, and Raccoon River. Both have decent beers, and good food. Raccoon River in particular has very good food. The Bandit IPA is a very passable version.
          Granite City has decent food, but I'm not impressed with the beer.
          Overall, in my experience I find most have better food than beer.

          1. I absolutely give breweries a pass on their food if the beer is good. As long as there is something decent on the menu, like pizza or good appetizers, I don't even look at the entrees, etc. I have found that a lot of breweries have some sort of wood-fired or brick-oven pizza that is very passable and certainly tasty after many samples of their handiwork. That is fine with me. If you want a five star meal, go to a five star place.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Mr Siegal

              Yes but I'm not equating "giving them a pass" with giving them a pass if it's not a 5 star meal. I tried to be clear in my OP that compared to your favorite corner pizza or sandwich shop how do they stand up. That for me is a reasonable standard and one that often elludes many brewpubs. And to my surprise many of my friends agree that the quality of burgers, wings, pizza etc, at many brewpubs is poor but they don't seem to mind if the beer is good.

              1. re: Chinon00

                yeah I didn't mean that a brewpub had to be five star, I just meant that whatever there aim is, they should still do it well. If a brewpub that goes as far as to have a restaurant along with taking pride in their beer, should have food as good as your neighborhood pizza joint. Its not hard to pair some wood-fired pizzas with toppings that go well with a variety of craft brews.