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McNeill's Brewery

Not Rated.
McNeill's BreweryMcNeill's Brewery
Based on:
30 Beers
1,248 Ratings
Place Score: 85
Ratings: 63
Reviews: 47
rAvg: 3.7
pDev: n/a
Taps: --
Bottles: --
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar ]

90 Elliot St
Brattleboro, Vermont, 05301-3269
United States
phone: (802) 254-2553

view map and get directionsMap @hereforthebeer

Place added by: BeerAdvocate

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Ratings: 63 | Reviews: 47
Photo of SABERG
3.49/5  rDev -5.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.25

Photo of Dicers
3.58/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

Photo of 31Sam13
4.75/5  rDev +28.4%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75

I really have an affinity for the place. It is in a cool, nondescript location, is filled , generally, with mellow people who want to enjoy some good beer. The place has been under the management of a new guy who is doing a great job with the food and hiring good people. A true diamond in the rough...

Photo of kettleandcask
3.54/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of BGsWo22
2.75/5  rDev -25.7%

Photo of spicyvelveetas
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%

Photo of whitenads
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of KingCobra686
2.75/5  rDev -25.7%

Mcneils beer offerings are awesome, but unfortunately their beers greatly outshine their brewery location. Their brewery is essentially a run down dive bar that only sells mcneills beer. They are not able to sell bottles on the premise, so i was forced to go to a package store down the street to stock up on bombers of mcneills. Prices are decent and the staff was very friendly, so it was worth the stop there, but overall the operation was very lackluster compared to most other vt breweries.

Photo of DrunkinYogi
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of Huey702
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%

Photo of SharonNelson
3/5  rDev -18.9%

Photo of chippo33
1.25/5  rDev -66.2%

Photo of BierBliss
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of coombski
4/5  rDev +8.1%

Photo of GreenMountainBoy
3/5  rDev -18.9%

Photo of YeastInception
3/5  rDev -18.9%

Photo of InspectorBob
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of kvnklingler
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.46/5  rDev -6.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3

I've been here a couple of times. I wanted to give it more than one shot to see if one experience was just an anomaly. It's on a side street in Brattleboro, but right next to public parking, which is clutch. You walk in and are directly facing the bar, with open seating/tables to your left. Long bar, with a ton of seating. Current beers are listed on a chalkboard behind the bar...they will hand you a beer list with every beer they make on it, but that's more of a guide, don't try to order from it. Done that each visit, and always asked for something not currently on tap. 3 casks available, along with the 6-9 taps. Seems like there is always a cider available, too. The food is limited and basic, but tasty...bar pizza, wraps, etc. Every time I've been there it's been a single bartender on staff, so if someone orders food, they have to go back to make it, so hopefully your beer isn't approaching empty when they take off. Also, each bartender I have dealt with has had the same initial approach: 1) hand you beer list, 2) immediately ask you what kind of beer you drink. Also, both times, the bartender has not been enthused by my answer of "I drink any style." Really no time allowed to develop your own interest in a particular brew, rather they attempt to push you through their offerings. Oh well...the beer is good, the prices are great, and the bar itself is comfortable. Great atmosphere and great music...decent place to hit up if you are in the area.

Photo of huuvola
4.4/5  rDev +18.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

October 2009 review (see below for update):
I was a bit apprehensive about visiting McNeill's after reading a few earlier (negative) reviews on BA, but my fears were quickly allayed after taking a seat at the bar. This is a great little brewpub, resplendent in rustic Vermont charm. Yes, the building needs some love (the bathrooms, in particular, are showing their age), but the staff is friendly and the beer is very good.

Don't come here looking for a shiny, flashy new brewpub, come for the beer, and don't shy away from talking to your neighbor. We ended up, by chance, talking with owner/brewer Ray McNeill, a personable and friendly guy. He's a bit of a character, but has a lot of local knowledge (and beer knowledge... and bicycle geekery). He told us a bit about the bar and gave us some solid recommendations for dinner in Brattleboro.

We enjoyed the McNeill's Champ Ale (pale ale), Ruby Ale, Dead Horse IPA, Kolsch, and "My New Invention" (hoppy IPA, brewed w/organic ingredients). All were very solid beers. The only downer of the visit was that they weren't serving any cask beers (despite a beautiful array of cask engines at the bar). The bartender told us that they haven't had cask running for six months or more (not sure why that is). Despite the lack of cask, we left satisfied, and happy to have visited this Brattleboro institution.
August 2012 review:
I visited McNeill's again over the weekend and continue to enjoy this beautifully unique brewpub. It's even better now. Highlights from our 2012 visit:
--The place has been thoroughly cleaned and significantly fixed up since our previous visit. Fresh paint (inside and out), redone bathrooms, and spruced up decor. Looks great!
--Beer selection was stellar. Three beers on cask(!) and I think about 8 other beers on draft. Something for everyone.
--Service was prompt, friendly, and informative.
--Food: We had the cheese plate, which was basic but delicious (2-year aged Cheddar, from the local cheesemaker).
--Atmosphere: Just a classic Vermont experience. We ended up talking with one of the artists who has some artwork hanging on the brewpub walls. Friendly local fellow who is doing his utmost to "Keep Vermont Weird," as the bumper stickers say. Another memorable visit, and we'll be back.

Photo of sespourteille
3.13/5  rDev -15.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 2

I am forced to rate this place high because it was a yearly after camping stop for a long time. Very simple, small and unimpressive at a first glance, McNeill's can surprise you if you just give it the chance. Every year there would be a beer on their list that was just out of place rare. This would of course be the one that my father bought each time because it was always a treat to find something out of the ordinary at such an ordinary looking place. The food consists mostly of homemade mom sandwiches and chips with salsa, but hey, who goes to a bar to eat. If your walking by it's worth going in and looking at the menu, having a few and playing a round of darts with friends.

Photo of Durge
4.3/5  rDev +16.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

A one room pub with a smallish bar and four long tables for the public drinkers. This night they had one cask ale and eight drafts flowing and all seemed to be in good order despite the previous reviews that warn of off nights. I sampled or ordered most everything and all was good. The bartender was completely knowledgeable and a friendly guy who was quick to offer samples where there was any interest. The clientele was pretty much as advertized, but entirely a positive. Plenty of character and easy to join any conversation from what I experienced. Apparently the owner/brewmaster, Pat, is currently in very poor health and I was impressed to hear how sincerely the locals were concerned about Pat’s condition and also for the very future of what seems to be a largely beloved institution. The place is obviously an integral part of this community and provides some sort of vital function to this little hub of south-eastern Vermont. The beer was all good to very good. Apparently the place very recently underwent a thorough cleansing and bathroom to bar nothing seemed hideously divey about the place to me. But it seems that might not have been the case in the past. It’s not glamorous, but it's comfortable and fine for drinking good beer and meeting nice folks. So all in all, a very good experience, not to miss if in Brattleboro or the general vicinity. Be sure to keep in mind that it's CASH ONLY, but prices are reasonable for the quality of brew.

Photo of woolybear
3.48/5  rDev -5.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

April 23 visited for the second time as part of a VT/NH beer tour. My first visit was also a good experience just got to spend a little more time there on this second trip. Had the Dark Angel a nice fulled bodied, rich stout with a nice malty finish. The atmosphere is very much of a small rough neighborhood pub. A eclectic variety of clientele but still inviting in many ways welcoming. May be a bit loud or rough for some beer drinkers but if i lived near by this would be my neighborhood pub. Also something to be noted not that it effects the experience but there is no parking.

Photo of FrankLloydMike
4.14/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

I've stayed over in Brattleboro three times now, and among the town's many draws is the homely McNeill's. The vibe here is pure Brattleboro--what I would call an elegant stay of decay. Well, maybe not that elegant, but it's certainly charming.

Tucked a short walk away from the main drag in an old, wood building that looks like it's about to fall off the side of a cliff is one of the dingiest, but most laid-back brewpubs I've ever had the pleasure to visit. I love the long, communal tables (plus the turned metal legs and Shaker chairs), I love the coziness the place exudes, and I love the three cask engines. I also love that I found a three-year-old issue of BeerAdvocate (actually a whole stack of Vol. 2, No. X, but I only took one copy) that I had been hoping to find for some time. I don't mind the dust or stacks of junk in the corner, and in a way they add something to the experience. The one thing that I do mind--that makes me wonder if I should drop the atmosphere score a bit--is a rather unpleasant, stale smell. You get used to it and it's not overpowering, but it's far less than ideal when enjoying a fine beer.

The service here is always friendly, whether or it's slow or packed. I'm still puzzled as to why the bar here is an inverse of every other I've visited with the bartenders stepping down behind the bar and appearing oddly short. Maybe it's a more ergonomically correct position from which to pump the cask engines.

That reminds me--McNeill's has some great beers, and while some others have mentioned the occasional dirty line, I've never experienced it. The three casks--including the lovely Dead Horse IPA and even better ESB on my most recent visit--compliment the fresh, tasty draft lines. In addition to the casks, I really enjoyed the Sunshine IPA (I think that's what it was called). McNeill's, like many older New England breweries, specializes in wonderfully balanced takes on English-style ales, which I really enjoy.

The beer is great here, but there's just something about the experience of coming back from a hike, or huddled and hurriedly walking up the road with the crunch of snow underfoot and settling in with a pint and a game of cards at McNeill's long tables. Sitting there, leaning back and sipping a fine cask ale, it's not hard to feel at home.

Photo of zoolzoo
4.1/5  rDev +10.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

This place is...interesting!

Locals certainly love this place and some of the clientèle were colorful to say the least (friendly too). Its somewhat divey, theres really nothing "nice" about the place but who cares? Thats not what McNeil's is all about. Ah yes I played the ring game for about an hour while enjoying my chips and dip. I got pretty good at it in fact.

They brew their beer downstairs right below the pub. The bartender was awesome! He was friendly and took my friend and I on a tour of the "brewery". Its like my basement... but smaller. McNeil's makes some pretty good stuff down there, though. I had the summer IPA and a brown ale. My friend liked the summer IPA enough to get a growler fill of it.

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McNeill's Brewery in Brattleboro, VT
85 out of 100 based on 63 ratings.