The Blue Tusk
Taps: 66 / Bottles: -
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 69 | Reviews: 57 | Show All Ratings:
3.86/5 rDev -9.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | $$$
Came here after eating and getting a flight and being thoroughly disappointed with the beer at Empire to drink a good beer before heading home.
A - Went in mid-day Tuesday - it's a nice place, but I don't think I can accurately rate the vibe, I've heard it gets pretty damn collegy at night.
Q - Great beers all over, and some pretty crappy ones too!
S - Bartender somewhat unwillingly answered a couple questions I had, although to be fair, he did answer them.
S - Decent representation of NY beers and craft beers in general, but not many beers that I can't find at most beer stores in NY. Maybe 5 or so beers out of 60ish that surprised and excited me.
10oz or 20oz pours for most beers, 10oz pours for the specialty beer section. Prices varied with the different brews of course, but none were cheap.
02-01-2012 13:17:12 | More by Edwaka01
3.9/5 rDev -8.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
Up front- This is definitely not my favorite bar, but I'll try to give it a fair evaluation.
I'll stop but the Blue Tusk a few times a year, and it is probably the best option for BAs if you're in Armory square in Syracuse now that Clark's has closed; however be prepared for the greek society sardine can if you try to go on anything resembling an evening or weekend while SU is in session (hence the low atmosphere rating, despite the relatively nice decor.) They also tend to take themselves a bit too seriously, IMO.
Plenty of selection here, though you'll see more than a few macrobrews and some of the larger "craft" breweries like Sam Adams and Magic Hat have more taps than I'd like. Lots of locals and the larger national craft offerings are well represented, though turnover can be somewhat slow in my experience and they tend to have a bunch of selections from the same breweries. 65+ taps and a decent bottle list give you plenty to choose from, however.
Service is good if it's slow, but the place always seems to be understaffed whenever it gets busy, and don't expect to order drinks more than twice if you sit down for dinner on the weekend. The bar and wait staff are generally decently knowledgeable, but you have to catch them when it's not busy.
I've only eaten here a couple times, but the food is pretty good, if pricey ($8-$12 for a sandwich sans side.) The menu is dominated by artisan sandwiches, though they have a few other things like quesadillas and salads. Again, too pretentious for my liking, and not very pub-esque. I was never wowed by any of the food, though I haven't tried many of the more "select" offerings.
Overall, it's a decent bet if you want a large beer selection and food and you're in Armory square, and prices are about on par for the locale. It's got a bad case of the Syracuse I-want-to-be-upscale flu, however, and is only partly successful.
Personally, I prefer Empire Brewery for food and J. Ryan's, which is about four blocks away off of Hannover Square, for beer, but this place is popular with the business crowd during the day and the college kids at night.
01-10-2012 01:53:35 | More by Lawl3ss
4.03/5 rDev -5.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3 | $$$
Probably one of the best places in downtown Syracuse for a good beer or two. Always good to walk into the tusk and read the message that runs along the bar ceiling that says, "Reality is a hallucination caused by the lack of good beer and fine wine".
The selection is always changing and they always have some of the best beers on tap at all times. They also have one mystery beer on tap.There hasn't been one instance so far, where in I have been to the Tusk, and found nothing that sparked my interest. Never tried the food, so I guess I can't comment on the quality of food. The staff is very friendly and know their beers. The only downside is it can get a bit pricey, and sometimes it is just too pricey. Apart from that, this is probably the best pubs in Syracuse. Definitely worth visiting if you are in town.
11-15-2011 20:09:59 | More by CaptDavyJones
3.95/5 rDev -7.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
Been to the Blue Tusk a couple times now on visits to Syracuse. The bar area is actually fairly small, but there's an outdoor area to sit in if the weather is nice enough. Food is pretty good, but nothing outstanding. The real star of this place is the beer. Plenty of taps, w/ stuff you wouldn't expect in a college town/bar. Bottom line is- if you can't find something here you like... well, you may want to broaden your beer horizons. Bartenders were good, with pretty good knowledge of the brews- but if it gets busy... the service suffers a lot. On the weekends... if it's busy.... hmmm... not so good. Prices are average to a little above average. Nothing outrageous though. Blue Tusk is definitely a great place to go for the beer lover if you're in Syracuse... I'll definitely go back if I'm in town.
09-13-2011 01:40:01 | More by jayhawk73
4.1/5 rDev -4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
A night out on Syracuse night life lands in the best stop for well crafted ales in Armory Square. Right across from Empire Brewing, Blue Tusk anchors a prominant corner in a charming urban streetscape with prominant English-like decor.
Entering the door at the corner, the bar flanks about twenty feet to both the left and the right, creating an L-shaped bar. The end of bar-right turns into the food order/pickup station. Rustic and worn woods create the motif of furniture white the walls are decorated with brewery/bar tins, bumper stickers, and neons in the windows- pretty standard college bar look.
But the 40-50 taps are anything but college-like. Middle Ages, Ommegang, Ithaca, Southern Tier, Brooklyn, Great Lakes, Rogue, and Sam Adams were all represented. The Sierra Nevada tap-takeover had just ended so several unique items from them were still pouring. Along with Gnomegang, Flower Power, and Sierra's Audition '10, we also enjoyed Bear Republic Racer 5, Great Lakes Erie Monster, and Dogfish Head Burton Baton. Needless to say, any craft beer enthusiast will find the perfect beer at the bar.
...unfortunately so can everyone else- A few Anheuser Busch products were well in demand, as well as Labatt Blue Light, Jager bombs, wine drinkers, and the such; the beer turned into a typical night lift destination and away from a premiere beer bar. There's a lot of drinking agendas for a bar area that can hold about 200 people (including outside seating).
Although the 2-3 bartenders seemed knowlegable, they seemed to let the Saturday night crowd get the best of them, seeming rattled and easily overwhelmed as patrons were stacked 4-5 deep eager to order drinks. Even the bouncers got in on the action (what premiere beer bar needs bouncers anyway?) when they pushed an uncooperative and intoxicated patron out of the bar and then slammed him to the ground repeatedly- needing medical assistance.
But welcome was the beer menu that supersedes the wine pages with offerings that ammount to about 100 total brews (tap and bottle). Only the Ithaca Cascada was out when I ordered; everything was available.
Along with $10 price tags for about 10oz. of Gnomegang and Duvel, it's easy to get discouraged form frequent visits, especially on crowded Saturday nights. Aside from the drama and expense of a few beers, many other quality local options were available for the sane $3-$4 range. An order of roast beef sandwich with stilton was a perfect companion for the Flower Power and an evening with friends on the designated sidewalk seating. Also a bit on the spendy side, the quality proved worth it.
Even with the hustle of the Saturday party sing in full force, on street parking was a synch.
On my next stroll through Syracuse, I'll be certain to visit the Blue Tusk again for food and beers. But I will avoid the party crowd and I'll pay better attention to the "Specialty" (over priced) beers and stick to the local gems.
07-07-2011 16:57:15 | More by BEERchitect
4.58/5 rDev +7.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
The Blue Tusk is one of my favorite spots to go when travelling through Syracuse.
With 69 Beers on tap the selection is top notch, a beer lovers heaven.
The staff is very knowledgeable and are always willing to make a suggestion or provide you a sample if your not sure. Even with such a large selection it is nice to see that the beers are poured into the proper glasswear.
I have not had the opportunity to eat there but the food that I did see looked pretty good.
I enjoy the laid back atmospher and the patio is a great spot to sit during a warm evening.
I look forward to getting back there soon.
06-25-2011 08:15:55 | More by drewsy
3.4/5 rDev -20.4%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | $$$
Let me start by saying that the Blue Tusk easily has the best variety in Syracuse for beer and is probably the best bar for craft beer lovers in Syracuse.
However, this is mainly because of the complete lack of choice in Syracuse. Alto Cinco has really great, uncommon beers that are much more interesting and rotate much more frequently than the Blue Tusk, but they typically only have 5 at a time. Clark's obviously closed, and in my opinion, that was the best location in Syracuse by a wide margin.
It's not that the Blue Tusk is particularly bad, it just seems to have extremely slow turnover and really absurd prices. There are certain beers that you will see on tap for months and months at a time. They have something like 30 taps, but I'd say a good 15 of these are beers that hardly ever change. Don't get me wrong, I love Great Lakes Burning River and many of the other beers that are there all the time, but I like variety. The prices of the beers themselves are pretty bothersome, too. I only started going to the Blue Tusk after Clark's closed and to go from a bar where the most expensive beer you ever could buy would typically be about $7 for a full 16 oz, it's very frustrating to go somewhere where you pay the same, if not more, for 12 oz.
The atmosphere is pretty okay, the venue itself is very large and has plenty of seating areas, but it's really the music that drags it down. Reggae is - and this is a fact - the worst type of music ever made. Especially for a bar. As if this wasn't bad enough, you will frequently hear jam band music like Phish, or similar bands, playing back to back songs as if someone put on a live concert CD from the band. Who doesn't love to listen to a 15 minute guitar "solo?" One time I was in, I actually heard a several minute long drum solo. A DRUM SOLO.
Bartenders are pretty knowledgeable and friendly and always willing to give a recommendation.
04-29-2011 15:19:27 | More by DrWangerBanger
3.95/5 rDev -7.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Blue Tusk is a pretty great beer bar, in most ways. They always have an interesting selection of quality and hard-to-find beers, which is relatively easy to keep up on remotely through their website and twitter feed. That's a big plus for me.
Atmosphere is fine, though it does get crowded in there. The booths are great if you want to sit and eat and talk. Food is generally very good, and equally so for both carnivores and vegetarians. Service is more or less non-existent: bartenders are fine, little to complain about or go out of my way to laud in that direction, and there is no wait staff (pick up food at the side of the bar). Ergo, service is "average," except that their bouncers can be real jerks for no apparent reason. Big detractor for me.
Regarding the beer, however, and far more importantly, they have a nice and large selection of beers on tap. Fans of real ale have local stuff usually every Friday (generally Middle Ages, but they've had things like DFH 75 and Ithaca Super French on cask minute before), and they get a good selection of Belgians on tap, as well. My only real complaints for Blue Tusk are that it can be crowded, the bouncers can be pretty shitty (never to me, but to friends), and their beers are on the high side, price-wise. Their redeeming grace in this regard is the mystery beer, the always-$4 20oz pour of *something* good (like Aprihop, never BMC-type products) during happy hour.
Overall, it has its downsides, but it's still a very good beer bar and definitely the place to go if you want hard(er)-to-find and Belgian taps.
04-20-2011 21:25:45 | More by fmccormi
4.46/5 rDev +4.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
This is a very cool place. The layout is one of a kind. Little nooks on one side, a nice elbow bar up front, and a dart area in the back. I was by myself but would love to go with a group and just chill in the private nooks.
The beer list was top notch with all beers being poured in proper glassware. I had Chimay, Urthel Hop It, and Delirium Tremens all on tap. Take a look at their website and you will be impressed with the line up.
The service was good. The staff was quite knowledgeable. Again, I went by myself and was very comfortable striking up conversation with the bartender.
The food looked good but I didn't try it.
All in all, I would be in this place all the time if I lived near by. If your passing through be sure to stop.
01-19-2011 03:39:43 | More by nopucophop
4.3/5 rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
I just got back from lunch at the Tusk and it remains KING. I enjoy the delicious food (mainly sandwiches and quesadillas - my recommendation being the Pigs in Zen or Roast Beef & Stilton) and incredibly comprehensive tap selection. During my most recent visit I was luckily able to catch a sweet altercation between a ragged street fellow assaulting the staff and bartender (resulting in the vagabond being pushed back outside).
I have not been let down by the Tusk's beer once. I would like to see more variety to their cask selection (it seems that the Duke is always on cask), but their taps are very contemporary and keep steady rhythm with new releases and seasonals (ie. 10.10.10 and ye' olde school barleywine are just 2 of approximately 30 taps. The bartender is generally nice in taking about the beers offered and prices that follow, but there is also a convenient, semi-up-to-date tap listing that floats around the bar area.
My favorite spot in Syracuse to grab a bite and brew, it's also easy when going out to meet people for drink at (given a selection that will cater to anybody's needs). The atmosphere is good, beer drinking people accompanied by greatful dead in the background. I am blessed by the Tusk and even after being kicked out for public intoxication (brew at the zoo...), I continue to return during day hours of Winter/Summer breaks to have a true breakfast of champions.
12-23-2010 21:10:54 | More by ThePorterSorter
The Blue Tusk in Syracuse, NY
94 out of 100 based on 69 ratings.