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Strange Brew Tavern

Not Rated.
Strange Brew TavernStrange Brew Tavern
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

53 Ratings
Ratings: 53
Reviews: 36
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 10.66%
Taps: 100
Bottles: 30
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

88 Market St
Manchester, New Hampshire, 03101-1911
United States
phone: (603) 666-4292

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 53 | Reviews: 36 | Display Reviews Only:
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mbonugli, Nov 03, 2013
Photo of scotorum
4.66/5  rDev +10.4%

Went here with two friends for dinner and drinks on Friday night.

Really not understanding the references to this place as a "dive bar." Everything inside seemed to scream mid-to-upscale pub. The dining area being separate from the bar area no doubt helps. I suppose during the day it might seem dark inside. And there was no live music when we were there Friday between 6-8,. so we did not get the feared conversation-killing noise some have reported. But then, we sat outside.

It's between two quiet streets which are dominated by upscalish colonial style multistory brick buildings. The outdoor area has plenty of seating, and the waitstaff there seemed exceptionally attentive and on the ball.

Friday-Saturday Happy Hour 4-7 is definitely the time to go, Half price pints of any (except some high ABVs and specialties which only come ten ounces at a time) of their amazing selection of 100 draft beers. None of us had a choice reported as not being available. Much of the selection was made up of more or less mainstream and "mainstream craft;" but some was not. Also half price appetizers during Happy Hour. Big selection there too, at least some of which could be enough for a meal for an average person.

Bottom line: the three of us had 2-3 $3 beers each and shared a total of four half price appetizer platters, which filled all of us nicely.  The loaded nacho platter was impressively huge, and took the three of us a while to demolish. Both orders of chicken tenders were big, beautifully fried platters of breast meat strips that came with a creamy dipping sauce. The stuffed mushrooms rocked.  Service was excellent from the friendly waiter.  Total tab for the three of us was $44.  One of my friends said it was probably the best bargain and best time he has ever had at a pub, and I had to agree.  We'll be back.

scotorum, Oct 06, 2013
Photo of Massbmx
2.89/5  rDev -31.5%

First review of a place on here. Went the Sunday before Labor day arriving around 9:30 PM. Dark place with a lot of younger people in the bar area. Good beer selection with a lot of locals and some Stone, Firestone, etc offerings.

My buddy and I sat down at the bar and were completely ignored for a good 15-20 minutes. Just before being fed up and leaving a bartender came over and said "you guys hungry or what"? We ordered food and I ordered a Smuttynose Homonculous. The beer came and upon inspection there was a BUG FLOATING ON TOP OF THE FOAM. Now I don't know how you don't see that as a bartender in the first place, upon bringing it to his attention he immediately said "what the fuck?", dumped it out, and poured me another, but there was no offer of a free beer as a replacement, or even a simple "sorry."

The food came out fairly fast. We split a BBQ pulled for quesadilla and nachos and they were both very good. Large portions and very good food.

Overall good tap selection, good food, but the bartenders were rude and getting large bug in my beer really turned me off to this place.

Massbmx, Sep 05, 2013
Photo of BigStein88
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Hey, if you enjoy a great beer selection coupled with heaping amounts of bar food at a great price, then this is the place to go. Drink and food specials every single day. Have been there with 3 buddies and had several beers each (not Bud Light, but Finest Kind, Arrogant Bastard, Wookey Jack, etc.) and plenty of food and escaped with a $50 bar bill.

Outdoor seating is kind of in the alley, but on a pleasant Sunday (like today) I am more than happy to pass an hour or two with the wife, have a few great beers and some loaded nachos and pay the $25 (with tip) that it costs.

Sports/concert arena is right down the street and I hit the Strange Brew every time I go there.

Fun place to hang out and drink great beers.

BigStein88, Aug 25, 2013
Photo of MThiele360
2.2/5  rDev -47.9%

UPDATE 5/16/13: I've been back to the Brew twice since my original review, once for KBS and a second time when I had time to kill before a rain-delayed ballgame, and both times were an improvement. Positive experience for the KBS tapping - had a couple of pours, was handed an up-to-date taplist and the place was packed. I did witness a waitress drop a tray full of KBS, though. The second time in I was handed a slightly outdated taplist, a bunch of the more interesting things were out. Both times I sat at the bar and was helped by the usual surly bartender who acts like he has something better to do than his job. Overall, some slight improvements but this place still leaves something to be desired.

ORIGINAL REVIEW: I am surprised the reviews for the Strange Brew are overwhelmingly positive. I've been living in the Manchester area for 6 years and work down the street, so I've been in plenty of times. I don't think I've ever walked out with a positive experience.

I have mixed feelings on the atmosphere. It's a dark, dingy space but I have no problem with that - some of the best beer bars out there fit that description. It used to be the 88 Restaurant, which was one of the top restaurants in Manchester - my in-laws had their wedding reception there. The clientele on most nights is what you'd expect for Manchester - loud 20-somethings, most of whom are drinking Bud Light bottles despite the abundance of quality crafts on tap. They have live music six nights a week which is so loud you can't even hear the person next to you. I'm all for live music but it's got to be background noise - I'm here to talk to my friends, not to be drowned out by your lousy blues jam band. No one is there for the music.

Sure, they have the largest selection in the area and they do keep great stuff on tap. My issue is that the beer list is usually woefully outdated - on my last visit, the beer list I was handed by the bartender was dated almost a month prior. Half of the beers on the list were gone, and by default, half of the beers they had weren't on it. This is standard for the Brew - always have a second, third and fourth choice ready. I usually have to walk up to the bar and look at the tap handles to figure out what's pouring.

The service is always terrible here. The servers who serve the tables know nothing about beer, and they don't even know what they do and don't have on the list. Sitting at a table, it can take me 30 minutes to get a beer because the server has to keep coming back to tell me they don't have what I ordered. The bartenders aren't much better. They know the beers and they know what's on tap, but they act like you're bothering them if you have a question and treat you like it's your fault if you order one of the beers they no longer have from the outdated tap list.

Like I've said above, the selection is huge - over 100 taps. This is the one thing they have going for them. Also like I've said above, good luck figuring out what's on those 100 taps. Of those 100 taps, though, it's usually only a small handful that are actually noteworthy. The rest are pretty standard in a state with a small selection to begin with. I'd rather go to Cask & Vine in Derry, which has a short taplist in comparison but they're always the best of what NH has to offer.

The food is standard bar food, not great but not horrible. The $5 burger night on Wednesdays is a good deal. Again, not the best burger, but hey, $5. I rarely come to the Brew for a meal, I'll usually come in for a beer after work or a beer and an app before going somewhere else.

The prices are reasonable as they have to be to survive in New Hampshire. $9 drafts like you see in Boston are not going to fly up here. The Brew still does big volume in macros and I believe this keeps their margins up and allows them to offer reasonable prices on their crafts without taking a hit. I'm sure the volume they do in macros gets them more favorable deals on crafts from their distributors. Food is cheap as well.

Overall, the Strange Brew is my last choice in the area, especially since we have new offerings popping up all the time. When I moved to Manchester, Strange Brew was it for craft beer in the area. Now more and more local restaurants are offering crafts and there are lots of options in close by towns. Between Cask & Vine in Derry, New England's Tap House Grill in Hooksett, Barley House in Concord and the options 20 minutes away in Nashua and Haverhill (and not even touching on the options further out in Boston, Worcester and Portsmouth), I may never go to the Brew again.

MThiele360, Apr 13, 2013
Photo of Puddleduck
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%

THURSDAY NIGHT THREE DOLLARs for every beer. TEN FIDY, Backwards Bastard, OLD Rasputin and so on, great value on Thursday night more than a handful of great beers to try.

Puddleduck, Jan 09, 2013
Photo of mlichens
4.55/5  rDev +7.8%

I love this bar. It has an extensive tap list, which is impressive given the NH distribution laws. Their beer list is printed out and outlined by styles, which can be handy for us adventuring types. I'm surprised, also, by how much knowledge the staff possess about their beers and their overall friendliness.

The food doesn't disappoin, but is your typical pub food: burgers, rubuens, and wings. If you get there for half-off apps, it's especially well worth it.

FInally, this bar is worth going to for the drink specials, which are pretty frequent. Without a doubt, this is the best New Hampshire has to offer for beer geeks.

mlichens, Nov 19, 2012
Photo of SevaTse
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%

For New Hampshire, given the bs distribution laws, it does not get much better for beer selection. This place has plenty of stuff on tap, plus you can order towers of beer, samples, they have promos and giveaways, and such. Plus they have printed beer menus with all the stuff written out by styles and one big list.
The food has never left me down either- good sandwiches, entrees, apps, etc. They also have a popcorn machine with self service.
There's a big room with the stage, where live music is performed, as well as a side room behind the stage, that offer slightly more intimate setting.
The crowd is mixed with quiet a few bikers, but also college aged individuals.

SevaTse, Sep 15, 2011
Photo of jamescain
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%

I've been here a couple of times and enjoyed it both times. Each time there was a live band that played, the second time it was a little hard to hear your company and the waitress, but that is because there is not much distance between the speaker and your table. The food I had was good, the first time it was burger night so for $4 you could have any burger and it was tasty. The second time I had fried scallops, which were also good. Their beer selection is extensive and it rotates fairly often i suppose since their beer menu is not able to keep up with them. Their selection is mostly New England and other New Hampshire beers with a few craft beers from around the country. The only issue I had was the server bring me the incorrect beer, which could have been because she couldn't hear me. Not a big deal. I would recommend it for anyone visiting or living in the area.

jamescain, Jul 26, 2011
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Strange Brew Tavern in Manchester, NH
93 out of 100 based on 53 ratings.