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Serious Beer Drinkers - Please Read - I NEED your input!

Hi!

I'm an Assistant Organizer for the Monthly Pint Meetup.com group. Each month we choose a Twin Cities bar to visit, drink, dine, and socialize. Beer being our focus. I'm planning the March event and have thought about a few different places but after reading reviews online, I'm now at a loss. I need fresh ideas!

Bars I considered were Lucky's 13, Stanley's, Northeast Social, and Town Hall Tap. All were rejected due to poor reviews EXCEPT for THT. I had to exclude that location as its website says it can only seat 90. Our events draw upwards of 150 folks.

An ideal location would include management that's willing to give us great deals on beer, rail drinks, AND food. Bar food is fine but a "step above" is what I desire. We prefer hi-tops and one large room in which we can gather. A perfect set-up is Park Tavern. They have a back room in which we gather and they even give us a few lanes for FREE bowling:-) This month we'll be at Grumpy's in Roseville (Not my favorite due to its location in the 'burbs and the set up is not great. Every time you need to go to the bathroom or another room, you walk past the dart boards. On more than one occasion, one of our members has nearly been hit!) Next month, we'll be at Gluek's.

Obviously, we've been to many places over the years but I don't doubt that my fellow Chowhounds can think outside of the box. There has to be new places or places we haven't thought of yet to visit.

Your input is MUCH appreciated!
.

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Northeast Social
359 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

Gluek's
16 N 6th St, Minneapolis, MN 55403

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  1. Most of the beer-forward places I know of would have a hard time accommodating 150 people. I'm reasonably certain Muddy Pig and Happy Gnome could not.

    You might see what Ngon Bistro can do. They don't serve hard liquor, though.

    Barley John's might be able to help you, but you'd have to be outside, and it still might be snowing.

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    Muddy Pig
    162 Dale St N, Saint Paul, MN 55102

    Happy Gnome
    498 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102

    3 Replies
    1. re: kevin47

      Happy Gnome does have a big upstairs space for private events (at least as of a little while ago). There was a bar up there, but as I was not organizing, I have no idea how the logistics work for the upstairs.

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      Happy Gnome
      498 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102

      1. re: LauraB

        The groom's dinner for my sister's wedding was upstairs at the Gnome and while we had a large group, 150 people would be awfully crowded.

      2. re: kevin47

        We did the Happy Gnome earlier this year. We had the entire upstairs room to ourselves. That is, if I'm thinking of the correct place. It's an old fire station with the pole still in place.

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        Happy Gnome
        498 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102

      3. hm. i'll throw out bulldog st paul & mac's industrial in NE mpls as possibilities.

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        The Bulldog Lowertown
        237 6th St E, Saint Paul, MN 55101

        Mac's Industrial Sports Bar
        312 Central Ave SE Ste 1B, Minneapolis, MN 55414

        1 Reply
        1. re: soupkitten

          Thanks, Soupkitten! We've been to both and to Mac's more than once. Bulldog in NE. St. Paul is much too small.

        2. While their beer menu may be a bit limited for your group, Shamorck's in St Paul surely fits the bill regarding space for a group of 150.

          1 Reply
          1. re: BatMan

            I'll take a look at their selections but this group is SERIOUS about their beer! Trust me. I'm a martini girl and we went to the Imperial Room for my b'day in November. We'd been there before but a few were upset as it didn't offer much for a beer selection. Oh well! I was happy:-) I just can't do that again, at least, not until next November. lol

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            Imperial Room
            417 1st Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401

          2. One of the best beer selections I've found in the Twin Cities, with a great "step above" menu (2 steps, really), is Buster's on 28th. That being said, I think they'd have trouble with 150 over and above their regular patronage, but may be worth a call.

            Also, Tiffany's on Ford Ave in St. Paul has an above average beer selection, and above average bar food. They should easily be able to accommodate 150.

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            Buster's on 28th
            4204 28th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406

            2 Replies
            1. re: foreverhungry

              I'll check into Buster's. We've been to Tiffany's. Thanks:-)

              1. re: Inasuitcase

                I wouldn't get your hopes up for Buster's. Even if they shut the place down for you, 150 people in there would be awfully cramped.

            2. The beer selection at Groveland Tap has really stepped it up since the opening of Blue Door Pub. I'm not sure whether they can accommodate 150 people in their game room, and the food is kind of a half-step above bar food, but their tap & bottle list definitely reflects a change for the better.

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              Groveland Tap
              1834 Saint Clair Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

              The Blue Door Pub
              1811 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55104

              2 Replies
              1. re: KTFoley

                We were just at the Groveland Tap the other night and they do have a good number of beers now. But no way would 150 people fit in their game room.

                What about the Glockenspiel (if their dining room area was available). Or the Liffey. Both on West Seventh in St. Paul.

                -----
                Groveland Tap
                1834 Saint Clair Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

                1. re: karykat

                  I don't like the food at Groveland Tap... Happy Gnome is what I'd choose if I were getting beer drinkers together in St. Paul.

                  -----
                  Groveland Tap
                  1834 Saint Clair Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

                  Happy Gnome
                  498 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102

              2. Some quick ideas. The Blue Nile or Stub & Herb's (might be too small for 150). Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit for German beer.

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                Stub & Herb's
                227 Oak St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                8 Replies
                    1. re: Inasuitcase

                      I figured. Their food is mediocre at best, but for the record their beer is good, brewed on site, and unique to the location.

                      1. re: Inasuitcase

                        I realize you don't do "chains" but all of the beer (at least for now) at Rock Bottom is location specific. There are no standard brews. So maybe you could forgive the chain food, if the focus is beer? Read this for more information: http://www.aperfectpint.net/blog.php/...

                        1. re: jaycooke

                          The focus is on being CHEEP!!!. If the group wanted good Beer they would not go to the Park Tavern.

                    2. re: fdizzle

                      Blue Nile is a good call. They've got the beer and the space.

                      I might also add Pizza Luce downtown.

                        1. re: soupkitten

                          Blue Nile, okay, that's one I haven't heard of so I"ll check into it. Thanks!

                      1. It's still getting its legs but there is Prairie Ale House in Eden Prairie. They do have a private area but I'm not sure how big it is. A little limited on their tap beers but they have a wide choice of bottles. Food is good, too.
                        Since they are trying to get the word out I'm sure the manager would be happy to work with you on deals.

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                        Prairie Ale House
                        16396 Wagner Way, Eden Prairie, MN 55344

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sseeholzer

                          I think we've been to the Prairie Ale House. If not, I'll check into it. Thanks!

                          -----
                          Prairie Ale House
                          16396 Wagner Way, Eden Prairie, MN 55344

                        2. Wow! I didn't realize that we've nearly exhausted all of the good beer joints around town. That or grown to big to be accommodated. I really was hoping to try an Irish Pub since it is March. Cooper's a possibility or ???

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: Inasuitcase

                            Your main problem is your size. McGovern's and O'Gara's could both probably accommodate your group, but neither are much of a real Irish pub and neither have very special beer lists.

                            1. re: Inasuitcase

                              Are you certain you need space for 150 people? Were there fewer, you certainly have more options, and some of the places you've been certainly cannot fit 150 people (Mac's Industrial for instance). 150 people at Blue Nile? That just seems ludicrous to me. There is one bartender.

                              I am at a loss to think of 10 bars (jeez, even clubs) in this town that could reasonably accommodate 150+ people.

                              1. re: Foureyes137

                                Yeah, when I first saw the title of this thread, I was expecting to be able to help, but geez, 150 people? That eliminates almost all of the good beer places in town. Seems to me you'd be better off splitting up into 2 or 3 (or more) smaller groups. Then you could go to places like the Muddy Pig, Ngon, TH Tap, Buster's, etc.... But that's not my call!

                                -----
                                Muddy Pig
                                162 Dale St N, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                              2. re: Inasuitcase

                                In the cara family kieran's has the "titanic" room that has always looked pretty big and private. Bonus would be the green ox snacks that you could order from the menu, along with fresh pretzels and the like...

                                1. re: Inasuitcase

                                  What about The Liffey? Irish pub on West Seventh near downtown St. P.

                                  1. re: karykat

                                    Thank you, KaryKat! The Liffey it is for March. The head organizer is THRILLED I was able to make it happen. Apparently, he's been trying for years to hold a Pint there. It took a few phone calls and emails, a wee bit of negotiation and we're in! Woo-hoo:-) Perhaps, you should join us. We'll be there on March 24th, a Thursday evening.

                                    1. re: Inasuitcase

                                      Great. Glad that will work out.

                                      Maybe it would be fun to see what your event and the Liffey is like.

                                      1. re: karykat

                                        Karykat,

                                        You're AMAZING!!! Thank you, again, for recommending The Liffey.

                                        The event coordinator and the manager I dealt with for The Liffey were outstanding! Usually, we try to negotiate a price break from 7-9pm. They were willing to offer us 6-8pm (extending their HH by one hour for us). Not a problem. I started our event one hour earlier than usual. Not a big deal at all!

                                        I have yet to actually count the exact number of wristbands & name tags we used that night but I can tell you, for certain, that we had 100+ folks in attendance.

                                        On our event's page, I had a lot of new folks sign up for this Pint. How exciting! I decided to use name tags (normally, we don't do this) in two different colors. Everyone who attended for their first time received one color and the "regulars" received another. As I was handing out the name tags throughout the evening, it became very clear we had MANY new people show up. That is wonderful news for our group, especially since they all seemed to have a great time and vowed to come again. We, also, managed to entice a few folks at The Liffey to join our group, too.

                                        The specials ended at 8pm but the majority of our group didn't disperse until after 9pm. I was there until well after 10pm. And, yes, I was still drinking, along with others, and a few were even enjoying dinner at that late of an hour.

                                        The head organizer of the Monthly Pint and I couldn't have been more pleased with this event. Honestly, it was PHENOMENAL and so much FUN!!! I do hope to return now that I've learned about their rooftop deck. That would be so wonderful, perhaps, in the fall. We don't like to go to the same place twice in a year but I think this may become an exception. I may even bring my own group, The Twin Cities Social Club, there this summer.

                                        Oh, and I had my first "Big Ginger". YUM!!!

                                        Again, my heartfelt thank you for mentioning this place. I would've never considered it, otherwise (I'm not a fan of hotel bars, especially on my days off, being that I'm a flight attendant.)

                                        1. re: Inasuitcase

                                          Excellent! I'm very glad to hear it.

                                          Did they have a nice room for you, and was it part of the Liffey or of the hotel?

                                          Good to know they were easy to work with and that it went well.

                                          1. re: karykat

                                            Karykat,

                                            They had us just meet in their bar. It was packed but so much fun! We hope to return in September to make use of their rooftop.

                                          2. re: Inasuitcase

                                            Glad you had a good time at the Liffey. Their rooftop deck is GREAT. Be sure to get back there in the summer.

                                            Great, now I have a craving for a Big Ginger!

                                  2. Oh, wow! I just checked our list and we've never been to the Blue Nile. I, also, checked their website and I'm impressed. Who would've thunk? Thanks, Chowhound. Now, do you think they have the space to accommodate such a large group? I will contact them later today.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Inasuitcase

                                      Yup, they should have the space. I think Al is still the bar manager/beer expert there so you might want to talk to him. Their beer list should please your group.

                                    2. Stub & Herb's can hold 150 folks - no problem. Great tap selection to boot. Any place that has on tap Fulton IPA is a winner.

                                      -----
                                      Stub & Herb's
                                      227 Oak St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                                      1. Burger Moe's isn't quite as serious of a beer place yet as Muddy Pig, Happy Gnome, or Buster's, but they seem to be on their way. The current tap list they have on the website is respectable. The food there is pretty solid, too, and it's quite a big place.

                                        -----
                                        Muddy Pig
                                        162 Dale St N, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                                        Happy Gnome
                                        498 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: gromit

                                          That's not a bad choice. I thought their burgers were so-so , but they have the space, a solid selection, and will probably be willing to cut you a special.

                                        2. I'm surprised that the Town Hall Tap wouldn't be able to fit a group that large--that back room is pretty big. Sargent Preston's, across the street, has a surprisingly good beer list and also may have the room.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: drew13000

                                            Indeed. Town Hall was one of the few places in town I could think of that could actually fit 150 people.

                                            1. re: drew13000

                                              Town Hall Tap and Town Hall Brewery are 2 different places. The Tap is a new place in South Mpls.

                                              1. re: fdizzle

                                                Town Hall Brewery is quite large. Town Hall Tap is quite small and always seems to be crowded - so much so that our broomball team of ~10 people (we play nearby) has not been able to fit in well at 8pm on a Wednesday night. The only time we had success was when we had a later game. The Town Hall Tap does have a nice beer list and I liked the cheese pretzels.

                                                1. re: fdizzle

                                                  Is there a Sgt Preston's across from Town Hall Tap as well? ;)

                                                  Town Hall Tap seems a perfect spot for this group, but yeah...no way you're fitting 150 people in THT.

                                              2. The new BLVD Kitchen & Bar on I-394 is advertising a private dining area. If it is where I think it is it might be big enough. They have a good beer selection.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Davydd

                                                  This is the old Don Pablo's in the Dick's Sporting Goods shopping strip. I can't see them having space for 150 people though.

                                                  -----
                                                  Don Pablo's
                                                  2700 Lincoln Dr, Saint Paul, MN 55113

                                                2. Thanks, everyone! Keep the suggestions coming...

                                                  TRUST ME, I know the problem my group is facing. We've become too popular for our own good. The Monthly Pint was founded in 2006. It has grown to over 1700 members! Just a year ago, we averaged 75-100 people at our monthly events. Now, it's much closer to 100-150.

                                                  Tomorrow night is the January Pint and the hostesses are CONCERNED. It's at Grumpy's in Roseville, which is a relatively small venue. Right now, 166 people are planning to attend. Now, mind you, not all will show up at one time or stay the entire time but a good amount will and that may be a problem.

                                                  We were there last year and I left early because it became too crowded even for me. I will not be going tomorrow. For that reason and another Meetup group is going to Happy Hour at Faces - Mears Park. I've been curious to check that restaurant out so that's where I'll be, followed by dinner at Barrio. Hopefully, I'll be able to visit the Blue Nile this weekend to check out the space. After March, I won't offer to host another Pint until the summer when we can have patio space available for us. lol

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. I will suggest again The Liffey.

                                                    Because they are in the Holiday Inn, maybe there are banquet rooms there that could accommodate a bigger group that the Liffey could supply.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: karykat

                                                      Karykat,

                                                      They do not list their beer menu online. I sent an email and should stop in one day soon. Is there list extensive? I've never been there.

                                                      As for the Blue Nile, much to my surprise we have been there! Huh. Guess that was before my time with the group. Anyway, they may have the space but they're not too eager about offering deals. That's the whole point. I mean, c'mon? On a Thursday night, you're going to turn down 150+ patrons because they want a few bucks off their beer and apps? WOW.

                                                      And, yes, 150 is a very accurate count. We were at Grumpy's in Roseville last night (Great venue for us but the service SUCKED!!! I waited well over an hour and a half for my chicken sandwich. The hostess took our orders first but didn't tell us she was a hostess and not allowed to do that. About 30-45 minutes later, our waitress came over to explain why we hadn't received our food, yet, then proceeded to take our orders again. Another 30-45 minutes later and they brought out our food. Of course, my order was wrong. Why must everything come with cheese? I am lactose-intolerant. I made sure to state NO CHEESE clearly and numerous times in a polite manner. Well, I had to wait another 15-minutes for my food. By then, my tots were cold and I was dealing with a throbbing headache. The kicker? No discount on our bill! Anyway...

                                                      I just don't think the venues that are able to fit our needs are taking us serious enough when we tell them 150 people. Last night, we had that EASILY. As much as these events are and as many new friends I make, I'm seriously reconsidering my role as an organizer. The challengers are really starting to add up!

                                                      Anyway, I do appreciate the suggestions here and I'm willing to hear more. I will check into the Liffey. Being that I live in Hudson, it'd be nice to have one that's near me. Also, being that it's March, I would like to be at an Irish bar. I know there's decent parking around there,too. I just need to make sure there isn't an event happening at the Excel.

                                                      1. re: Inasuitcase

                                                        If cheap is what your looking for then go to Stub and Herbs, they give away their beer all the time. Why would any successful place give you a discount on a Thursday, while your shutting down their regular business? You get what you pay for.....If your benchmark is the Park Tavern (good beer list????) Stub and Herbs is right up your alley.

                                                        1. re: ibew292

                                                          Park Tavern's Beer List is not great but management is willing to work with us, they have the space, and our members enjoy themselves. This group is about beer AND socializing. Events at Park Tavern mix the two well together.

                                                        2. re: Inasuitcase

                                                          I haven't been there either but have been meaning to. They do promote their pub image which is why I think they may have a decent beer list.

                                                          Next time, take some pictures of youir group that you can show to places next time. To convince them you really do have the numbers.

                                                          Thursday night is probably challenging if places are giving up other business. But being assured of 150 serious beer drinkers would help convince them.

                                                          And you're right: It would be critical to know that the Excel does'nt have something big (like high school tournaments!) because it does get really congested then. Otherwise fine.

                                                      2. I have no idea about their beer selection but the new space for Psycho Suzi's - could they handle the size of your group?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: sweet thang

                                                          We're planning to go there in the summer when their deck is open. It's another favorite of our members and the crowd will be HUGE. We want to make sure they'll be able to accommodate everyone. Thanks:-)

                                                        2. If an unwillingness to slash prices is a dealbreaker, I would think that will narrow your options considerably. There is certainly no harm in asking, but I don't think it's fair to expect a restaurant to offer anything other than the advertised price.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: kevin47

                                                            Well, we bring in the numbers and we spend a LOT of money! It's not unreasonable to ask a place to extend their happy hour prices for us. Most of the establishments have had no problems with doing this and that's why we frequent the places that we do. However, we were hoping to add a few to our list. Usually, our start time is during HH anyway, we just add an hour or so to it.

                                                            Also, I'm the organizer for the Twin Cities Social Club. We rarely pay FULL price for any event we attend. The businesses realize that we're a marketing tool and appreciate that. They, also, recognize when members come back, too.

                                                            Bill's Gun Range is a perfect example. They bent their own rules to accommodate our group on a Friday night (Normally, they don't allow reservations Fri-Sun.) They gave our group a discount on the lane rental fee. We brought our own arsenal of guns and ammo. We spent four hours there and had a great time! A few of our members went back the very next day because they had so much fun! And since them a few of the participating members have become regulars there. Bill's gets it. Most of the places I talk to, get it. The exceptions are VERY rare, thankfully.

                                                            1. re: Inasuitcase

                                                              It's an interesting business model. You're right - it is a marketing tool for some businesses. For places like Park Tavern, I get it. For others, though, they don't need help filling their room on a Thursday. They're likely to have a similar number of customers, and an extra 150 people becomes a hassle. If you're going to be at or near capacity anyway, why not do it with folks where you don't have to offer a discount, where they are more likely to be repeating customers, and perhaps most importantly, where 150 food orders aren't all going to come in at the same time. Park Tavern - and a very other places - were designed to handle very large parties, with a heavy order load. Most places weren't. And, to a large extent, that's reflected in the quality of the food. Park Tavern is average bar food - at best. With a group of 150, options become limited. And to a lot of places, that have no problems filling their capacity on a Thursday, why try to squeeze an extra 150 in, with special deals, if it might mean the rest of the customers - those that might make up a loyal customer base - get an inferior experience as a result.

                                                              1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                Right on!!! Deal or good food and beer. I'll go for quality not quantity. Blue Nile has a great beer list

                                                          2. if you don't need a top flight beer list (just a decent one), and the fun and space requirements are equally important, have you considered a place like memory lanes bowling alley? not the worst bowling alley bar/pub food in the world, plus bowling fun. elsie's in NE may also be "old school" fun, but smaller and i don't know about their league nights or beer selection.

                                                            irish bars: the new location of kieran's irish pub may accommodate. the local would be a possibility, the pub is huge. the dubliner in st paul would be good, but it's just a bar, no kitchen.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                              I was having a similar thought. What about the St. Paul curling club?

                                                              I know you can have meals or appetizers catered there through the place they use.
                                                              Can they also do beer? Not sure. Does anyone know?

                                                              But it would be a fun place.

                                                              1. re: karykat

                                                                The curling club is generally booked solid in evenings with their own league events -- they have enough volume to run two locations. I checked out the possibility of renting the space for a work event, and the available times when they would open the ice to a non-club group was during the day, Of course, that included some lessons and a chance to try out the sport.

                                                                Perhaps another example of a situation where, in the abstract, the marketing benefit of the meetup group sounds like a win-win but, in the actuality, it doesn't really meet any needs for the location.

                                                                And yeah, if the group is so large that the win-win scenario works out to "the kitchen & service are slammed, the regulars are crowded out, the experience is sub-par and participants are saying they won't attend because it's too crowded" then the law of diminishing returns is in force.

                                                            2. Thank you! Due to this discussion, I decided to go back into the archives of this group to investigate exactly where we've been before. I was sent a list by the Head Organizer but it was not accurate. Here is the list, from most recent all the way back to 2006. I now see we haven't been to The Lifffey so I'm going to contact them today. If that doesn't work, I'll talk to Kiernan's, as we haven't been there before, and The Local, as it's been a long time! Thank you all for your input. It is much, MUCH appreciated! Hopefully, this list will help you help me, too:-)

                                                              Gluek’s
                                                              Grumpy’s
                                                              Whiskey Junction
                                                              Imperial Room
                                                              Elsie’s
                                                              Ugly Mug
                                                              Park Tavern
                                                              Bulldog NE
                                                              Happy Gnome
                                                              Joe’s Garage
                                                              Lyndale Tap House
                                                              Rosen’s
                                                              Decoy’s
                                                              Gabe’s
                                                              8th St Grill
                                                              Tiffany’s
                                                              Nomad World Pub
                                                              The Chalet
                                                              Obb’s
                                                              The Library
                                                              Blue Nile
                                                              Billy’s on Grand
                                                              Oak City
                                                              Mac’s Industrial
                                                              El Patio Mexican Grill
                                                              Hubert’s
                                                              Pazzaluna
                                                              Tugg’s
                                                              Harvey’s Burger Bar
                                                              Half-Time Rec
                                                              Junction
                                                              Herkimer
                                                              Patrick McGovern’s
                                                              The Local
                                                              The Muddy Pig
                                                              Barley John’s
                                                              Great Waters
                                                              Williams
                                                              O’Gara’s
                                                              Rock Bottom (WOW! Who knew? This was in the early days before I was a member.)
                                                              Town Hall Brewery

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: Inasuitcase

                                                                I didn't see you refer to it so I didn't know if you'd seen it, but the Lowertown Bulldog is not the same as the NE Bulldog, and they've got a great beer list: http://www.thebulldoglowertown.com/beer/

                                                                1. re: johnnybgargoyle

                                                                  True but I venture to the Lowertown location often and doubt their location could handle a group as large as ours. It's very rare that I am able to grab a table when I'm only with a few friends.

                                                                  Believe it or not, I do take our size into consideration when I organize an event for this group. I don't want to overrun the bar from the locals, even if it is for just one night. At Grumpy's last week, there were a few folks mixed in with our group. They weren't quite sure what him 'em and it was fun to see their reactions when we all started showing up. lol

                                                                  1. re: Inasuitcase

                                                                    OK, I can understand that, but then it would seem that you are looking for the least popular places in town that no one goes to so you can ensure it not being crowded or have it "affect the locals". People like good beer and the places with good beer lists are full of people pretty much all the time. Maybe you should put an ad on Craigslist. "Are you the proprieter of a local establishment that can hold 150 people and are looking to pack a weekday evening? Call 555-5555" or whatever. You never know, with the economy the way it is, this might be a great idea. Costs nothing to do, and the responses would be from establishments that would be willing/capable of handling a large group, and eager to have you...

                                                                    1. re: Inasuitcase

                                                                      Depending on how good of a beer list you want/need, somewhere like Povlitzki's or even the new Toby Keith's are pretty open and cavernous. I was going to suggest the Crystal Event Center, which has (had) an Irish Pub upstairs, and then 3 rentable "party rooms" of varying sizes downstairs, but apparently they've closed in the last year or two.

                                                                      1. re: Inasuitcase

                                                                        SNEAKY PETES, big enough for your party and not a chain,

                                                                  2. The Dubliner (Vandalia & University) has far & away the best Guinness pour I've found in the TC's and on an early weekday night (Mon-Tues) is not oversubscribed. A reasonable (if standard-ish) selection of other beers on tap. Great-looking vintage mirrored bar back. No kitchen (free popcorn is all) but pizza could be ordered or trucked in. Tables outside also. Parking might be an issue for 160 with University Ave construction although if willing to walk a bit there are plenty of back streets nearby.