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The Chapter House

Not Rated.
The Chapter HouseThe Chapter House
BA SCORE
95
world-class

31 Ratings
Ratings: 31
Reviews: 28
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 8.99%
Taps: 49
Bottles: 0
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Bar ]

400 Stewart Ave
Ithaca, New York, 14850-4559
United States
phone: (607) 277-9782

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 31 | Reviews: 28 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of drummstikk
4.56/5  rDev +5.1%

Chappy served me my first legal beer. It got me through papers and introduced me to many of the beers I love today. I love the Chapter House!

Now that my bias is duly noted: Chappy has a huge selection in a dank wooden atmosphere. You'll feel like you're drinking in the 19th century in the middle of the Northeast's golden years of beer. What more could you want? Deeply etched picnic-style tables and benches are thrown together in a room inexplicably separated from the tiny room that houses the bar. Greasy and small window panes are housed in steel grids, all in swinging wooden frames that never quite shut in the winter. Free popcorn and foosball reside in the third room. Bathrooms are down a narrow and steep staircase. Aside the obligatory English football scarves, there are old photos of Cornell students, some actually from the 19th century, as well as, if I'm remembering correctly, a rowing shell.

If you're staying in Collegetown or on campus, be forewarned: the Chapter House is at the bottom of precipitous Williams Street. Be prepared for a sober skip down and a drunken slog back up!

If you're a Cornell student, don't go to Dunbar's or Johnny O's. You'll be able to find bars like these wherever life takes you. Go to the Chapter House, because you'll never visit anywhere else quite like it.

drummstikk, Mar 26, 2010
Photo of Hojaminbag
3.91/5  rDev -9.9%

The Chapter house is on the hill just off the Cornell campus. It's kind of isolated, there isn't really anything around except apartments until you head up the hill to the other side of Collegetown. It is usually packed with students, especially on weekends when it gets crowded and pretty damn loud. During the week it's pretty empty, with normal people and graduate students. The Chapter House is kind of known as a grad student hang-out actually.

When you walk in there is a bar on your left. If you walk toward the back of the bar you can make a left and head into the other room, which is full of tables, a pool table and a couple of dartboards.
The whole bar is kind of sticky, dirty and divey. Let's just say that you wouldn't want to eat anything that fell on the floor. I think they are deliberately going for the dive bar look and feel though, so it's possible that everything just LOOKS dirty and is actually really clean (they probably came by their grime honestly though). The bathroom is small, seldom very clean, and down a set of stairs.

On to the beer. That's one thing the chapter house has going for it. Around forty beers on tap, and they rotate regularly. Troegs, Sierra Nevada, Victory, Saranac, Ithaca, Southern Tier, Brooklyn and many other American craft breweries are included. There are always a few beers on special also. Last time I went 12oz Sierra Nevada Bigfoots were 3 bucks a piece.

Quality takes a hit from me because the first time I was here I ordered a Troegs Hopback and got a beer that came out of what was obviously a really dirty tap line. The place was slammed so I didn't bother to complain, but I should have. Every time that I have been back since, I have had no problems.

Service has always been fine for me, pretty quick when crowded actually. I've never really had any conversations or talked beer with any of the servers.

I'm not sure that I love the vibe of the chapter house, but it has a good beer selection, fair prices and is worth a stop every once in a while, especially on a week day.

Hojaminbag, Mar 06, 2010
Photo of jameswaldo
4.94/5  rDev +13.8%

I've been a Chapter House fan since I first came to Ithaca 40 years ago. For a little while they had their own brewing setup, but it took valuable floor space and rarely produced a beer as good as most of the 50 they keep on tap. They had a mediocre pubfood minikitchen in south room for a while, too, that I don't miss at all. Now they do what they're best at: draft beer you will like. (I've read some reviewers wonder about dirty lines, but know bartenders will pour you something else satisfaction guaranteed if you complain!) The ambiance here is so down-home funky, you need to know Japanese aesthetics to realize that the wabi sabi here is on purpose. When crowded, this place is extremely hopping. It's not set up for the best musical experience when excellent bands play here, but I'll forever remember the best shows of Mectapus, Horse Flies, Boy With a Fish that I much enjoyed here despite the awkwardness of stage and loudspeaker placement. I lived up the street on Stewart Ave for 3 years in seventies, then after Peace Corps higher uphill on College Ave in Collegetown from 77-80 and would have hung out at CH more but it was too smoky then; now that smokers have to do it on the sidewalk outdoors, CH is an even more beautiful old space. I like to bicycle around Cayuga Lake once or twice a year and always stop by CH on the way home. Bartender will let you try tastes before you commit, so take advantage of this to find a flavor you love. For sure try to get here when it's not too crowded. Happy hours sell you beer at especially good pint prices; there for sure will be something on tap to suit you. The free popcorn will help beer from sloshing too much in a hungry tummy, but no food served here these days. Ride your bicycle here if you can, or hike around Cascadilla Gorge just a block to north. Their website is really well-designed, too.

jameswaldo, Feb 28, 2010
Photo of sholland119
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Stopped in here for a couple of pints as we were passing through Ithaca. Cool vibe inside with a long bar inside the door, a room off to the side with tables and some pool tables in the back. This place must be jumping when school is in session; not sorry I missed that.

The tap list is massive, with about 40 taps. Most taps were American crafts, with a good selection of NY beers. A few Ithaca taps (Flower Power, yummy!) were the highlight. Also a few Saranac and Middle Ages along with a Roosterfish hefeweizen that was just awful. Some pretty run of the mill selections from Victory, Stone and Rogue round out the American end of the craft list. Import taps are of the Guinness/Newcastle/Boddingtons/Hoegaarden "so what" variety.

Our bartender was a pleasant, outgoing guy. No food, but great free popcorn.

Worth a stop if you are in the area.

HV

sholland119, Jun 15, 2009
Photo of HeyItsChili
4.26/5  rDev -1.8%

Went here with some regulars while visiting Cornell for an open house. The atmosphere was stellar. This, my friends, was a bar for savoring beer with friends. Plus, you can't beat free popcorn. The first thing I noticed was a plethora of taps filled with tasty selections at good prices. Hoegaarden line was a bit dirty not a big deal. Service was friendly and good, if I end up in Ithaca I will definitely be a regular here.

Bottom line, if you're in Ithaca and enjoy beer, why the hell aren't you here?

HeyItsChili, Dec 29, 2008
Photo of madmanjf
4.19/5  rDev -3.5%

Stopped here AFTER the 2008 Ithaca Brewfest.

Needless to say, it wasn't very busy yet, but I'm sure that's not the norm.

40 lines ... impressive selection.

A rather dark and spent atmoshphere ... this is by no means bad. Clearly a place that gets crowds and enjoyed by all.

I certainly wasn't able to enjoy this place as much as I would've liked. Clearly, I need to go back when I have more time and can get the feel for the place better.

I really can't say anything bad. It obviously has the best selection in the area. It certainly rivals the better beer bars I've been to within NYC :)

There isn't any food available at this establishment.

madmanjf, Sep 07, 2008
Photo of penguinjive7
4.41/5  rDev +1.6%

In my four years of living in Ithaca I never visited this place. I always meant to, but just never got around to it. I finally made my way over there while visiting a friend and man do I wish I had gone more often while living there. On a Thursday night at around ten, it was not very crowded or loud at all. There is a choice in three main rooms, with one of them being a place for a group of friends to share a few pints, and another having pool tables if that be what you're looking for.

The list of brews on tap there is quite impressive. About 50 or so taps with mostly US micro brews. Nice selection from Stone and others out in California to Ithaca beers brewed right down the road. The only complaint was that one of the Stone IPAs I had there was a bit off. It could have been the batch, but it also could have been sitting in the keg too long, not too sure.

Overall a great place to go for some good beer and never have to have the same brew twice in a night.

Oh yeah and free popcorn.

penguinjive7, Feb 26, 2008
Photo of zdk9
4.66/5  rDev +7.4%

One of my favorite places to just chill out and have a beer. The interior is filled with lots of character in the wooden tables and benches. There are pool tables in one room and a stage that usually has music (for a cover) on the weekends. It can get pretty crowded with college students at select times so if you're simply looking to enjoy a quiet brew be careful with that. As for selection they about 30ish taps of ranging styles and regions. I'm not sure if they are as equiped with bottles and very few Europeans so that's not the best, but it shouldn't be hard for anyone to find multiple beers they will like there.

As a side note they have had copies of BA mag for your reading pleasure in the past couple months.

zdk9, May 12, 2007
Photo of JimFalzone
4.64/5  rDev +6.9%

This place has already been thoroughly reviewed by others, but I'll point out a few things.

The selection kicks ass. And what's better? The bartenders typically know what they are talking about. If you walk in and say, I want something crisp and refreshing - they'll point you to a pint of locally brewed Ithaca Flower Power IPA. If you say that you like Guinnes but you're looking for something a bit sweeter, they'll point you to a Murphy's or Fullers.

The location is in the heart of "college town" this is the affectionate label of the part of town near Cornell University but close to Ithaca College. On a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night - this place can quickly become Animal House (in a good way). But unlike other college bars that serve swill and wine coolers, the Chapter House emphasizes beer and would laugh at you if you ordered a bud light.

The bands that play here are 90% awesome. Some of the local talent is unlike anything you will here in the world. Johnny Dowd, Plastic Nebraska, Sim Redmond, etc

If you come during the day, I highly recommend that you walk down one of the gorges in Ithaca. In fact, there is one about 2 blocks from this bar that is simply spectacular. We used to walk up this trail and reward ourselves with pints after the long (1.2 mile) hike. It earned the name "The Mush & Rick Fitness Trail" in honor of two friends who regularly made the trip.

JimFalzone, Dec 27, 2006
Photo of slander
4.36/5  rDev +0.5%

At the time, the hour round trip off the highway to and from Ithaca seemed like a good idea, but now I'm looking down the barrel of a 4 and change hour drive home. I'd say that it's just now that I'm thinking that a beer or two may take the edge off some, though really it was by design from the get go, I knew what I was in for...
Lots of old well worn wood here, the bar "C" shaped running the length to the rear, seating about a dozen. The mirrored barback has a beer can display running above it, just below the mounted set of rowing oars that probably belong to the boat that hangs from the ceiling. Glass lamp lighting above and wall mounted lamps behind the bar. The walls are covered with old Cornell fraternity and sorority composite photos, athlete and club pictures. 4 blackboards hanging to the rear list the tap and bottle selections and a collection of old beer coasters line the area above these boards and on the trim of the panelled glass front windows.
Dozens of ancient ceramic mugs and glasses from a past mug club of yore hang alternating from the ceiling, twisty metal lock games dangling on hooks from the bar back, and a single TV to the rear near the blackboards. The front area below the windows has a small sign reading "Wise guy's corner". I sat there because... well, yeah.
A row of taps 30 long sits on the bar, with a pair more holding 10 each below both ends of the bar. 50 taps in all, nothing on the hand pump (sooo sad), and oddly enough, a single bottle being Delirium Tremons. Good taps, locals & regionals (Ithaca, Middle Ages, Southern Tier, Wagner Valley, Brooklyn, Victory, Magic Hat) and not (Lost Coast, Bear Republic, Great Divide, Anderson Valley, Rogue, Anchor, North Coast), and so so imports (Youngs Double Chocolate Stout, Fullers ESB, Guinness, Harp, Bass, Paulaner Hefe, Stella, Hoegaarden, Jever, Boddingtons, Pilsner Urquell). Beers were fresh, no problems there, and the bartender let me try one of these and one of those, too, thank you.
Beyond the bar lies a room holding a pair of pool tables, electronic darts, a pinball machine, a foosball table, and a popcorn machine. There's a side room with some big tables, more Cornell pics and Phil's golf game, and a far room with an area for bands to set up, a giant arial Ithaca photo, some beer label displays, and about 8 tables, scratched, carved, and beaten to all comfortable hell.
I pledged my fraternity in the 80's, during the "hazing is amazing" years. My chapter house was never this good.

slander, Feb 27, 2006
The Chapter House in Ithaca, NY
95 out of 100 based on 31 ratings.