Blackback Pub & Flyshop
Taps: 9 / Bottles: 10
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 80 | Reviews: 50 | Show All Ratings:
4.84/5 rDev +9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75 | $$
My favorite bar on my Vermont trip. Just, wow.
The bar is nestled a little bit below street level. Two rooms, with a very long bar. Not much table space. The combination of a fishing/tackle shop along with a premier craft beer bar always makes me smile. They've got all the Vermont goodies you could want on tap- Lawson's, Zero Gravity, and HF abound. They unfortunately had no Lawson's on when I went, seems like the stuff kicks pretty quickly whenever it's tapped. Like flies to a light.
They had some interesting other stuff too that I'd never heard of. About 15 taps, and all interesting. The one bartender deftly served everybody, and was able to talk beer with us at the same time. The beers were a bit expensive, but not unreasonable for the quality. Got some Hill Farmstead James, a S&S #1, and a Zero Gravity Narconaut.
The food is provided by a taco place called Mad Taco- I guess they have a full restaurant elsewhere, but operate out of this bar as well. Seriously killer tacos- they gave me a ton of sauces to put on it, with "heat ratings" on them. The #10 sauce was nuclear. Some of the best bar food I've ever eaten.
Simply one of the best.
01-24-2014 20:56:03 | More by GreesyFizeek
4.45/5 rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Let’s see. Drove a few hundred miles on up, and then started with growler fills and bottles well out, and worked my way back in for necessary Heady procurement. That’ll see you to mid to late afternoon with no foreseeable plan. So then you Waterbury, ‘cause you’re there, and that’s what you do. Start by parking the corner. ‘The’ corner...
I parked just out front, shocker. Step down step down step down! If you didn’t step down, you fell down. If you fell down, then get up; seriously, you’re embarrassing yourself. Small room with a wide plank laminated topped ‘L’ shaped bar with a ‘step on it’ break, dark wide wood plank base, and brass foot rail; seating for a half dozen +. Shiny brass copper bar tower on the bar holds 8 taps (half of them on nondescript handles), a handpump on the end, unused, and a vintage cash register in between.
The outer wall is stone & brick, not surprisingly for this ground floor, and swirly, a shade of green painted pieces in white trim; the sills of which hold empty bottles of beer, bourbon, & wine. More green painted inners with a single flat on the back barback wall, over a shelf of bourbon and sinkage. The décor of plates, trays, fish prints, & mounted pieces. Worn plank floors and creeky rafter ceilings holding a pair of glassware racks full of Hill Farm stemware, and whiskey boxes & tubes, license plates, and keg collars on the beams above. Bottles clustered on both ends of the bar and riddled about. Some track spots, and good light through the panel door & windows over Main Street. Drafts printed on corner black board pieces.
And through to the side room with some more bar space; a ‘U’ seating nearly a dozen, mostly on hightop wooden chairs, but some on squared stools. The bar top here is old bowling lane action, I do dig it. Another tower of 8 back there and a pair of threesies. Plank back wall and blackboard end wall; the taps listed in alt colored chalk with pricing. Coasters plastered to the ceiling back there, and a gaggle of Cantillon bottles (hey, you want to hear a crazy story?) Another flat back here for the looking at, and seating on church pew bench and stadium seating attached.
Looks like space for 22 taps in all, but a few are off, only a dozen and a half up just now; nearly ½ are Vermont offerings (Lost Nation Gose, Hill Farmstead Edward & What Is Enlightenment?, Jacks Abby/Lawson’s Smoked Maple Lager, Lawson’s Spring Fever Session IPA & Paradise Pale Ale, Zero Gravity R. Prime IPA & Conehead), and the remainder a mix of craft beyond borders (Stoudts Kolsch, Jolly Pumpkin Maracaibo Especial, Bear Republic Racer 5, Ten Barrel Apocalypse IPA), imports (Djaevlebryg Gudelos, Mikkeller Black Hole Stout, Rodenbach Grand Cru, Hofbrau Hefe), and a pair of ciders (Citizen Cider Unified Press & Witness). I drank the Lawson’s Spring Fever Session IPA (comes in at 3.8%, was really goddamn nice), Lawson’s Paradise Pale Ale (the goods), and Zero Gravity Conehead (solid wheat IPA). And as Mad Tacos happen here, I went with a pair of the Carnitas (onion, cilantro, dealt with mole sauce sided, tasty, with a bit of heat), they were mad excellent.
Revisited a few months later with Dev & Adisa on the heels of a day like every other one I do in Vermont. Started with the Lawson’s Big Hoppy Black IPA (awesomesauce), and followed up with Hill Farmstead Life Without Principle (a 2 hop blend with hibiscus, Did. Not. Suck). And there will be tacos, yo. I split my pair between the Chile Colorado (avocado, onion, & cilantro in a mole sauce), and the Al Pastor (onion & cilantro in a verdi sauce). Both very good but the latter of the two was champion, true. Adisa disrespected our local Brooklyn taco joint by stating that these were the best tacos he’s ever had. I have suggested doing more tacos here and bagging the work dinner, but there’ll surely be trouble for it.
They do have a small bottle list, notables including Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueuze Golden Blend, Rodenbach Vintage Oak Aged Ale 2009, Mikkeller It’s Alive). Tunes have been excellent (Stones, Pink Floyd, Kinks, Pearl Jam, Santana, Van Morrison, Talking Heads, Beatles); soundtrack of my life. Servicewise, both times out the Mattender started on and passed things off to Lauren, all good. A fine group of locals, here. We’re talking mead and Weihenstephaner, and all sorts of stuff. Great rotating tap list Vermont local goods heavy and mad, mad tacos.
12-25-2013 17:14:00 | More by slander
4.48/5 rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
This is a great little pub for any good craft beer fan. Their draft beer selection is not the most expansive, but it is good quality product. Quality over quantity. Good ambiance inside and a good bar tender. Had a pulled pork burrito that was really good.
Beers tried at bar: Hill Farmstead - Albert, Zero Gravity - Conehead.
11-10-2013 20:02:22 | More by T-34-85
4.23/5 rDev -4.7%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.75 | $$
Great tap list, with tons of local selections, including Hill Farmstead, Zero Gravity, and others. I had a ZG Conehead Wheat IPA, which was excellent. While they didn't have Heady Topper on tap, plenty of other local places did; that actually freed up a tap for something different, so I had no complaints. They also had two different years of SN Bigfoot - 2010 and 2009, if I recall correctly.
Food is mostly tacos and burritos. I enjoyed a Cuban sandwich that was enjoyable if not particularly remarkable. I hear the rest of the food is quite good, as well.
Pub itself has a nice enough look, with a couple of connected bar areas.
11-04-2013 00:37:20 | More by Roguer
4.1/5 rDev -7.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.75 | $$
Went here looking for what everybody is looking for: Alchemist, Hill-Farmstead, and Lawson's. Found all were recently here but gone. If I lived in town I'd be here every day checking for the latest. Good fresh-Mex food options, and plenty of decent VT taps. Of the 3 or 4 destination pubs in Waterbury this one is the diveiest in the best sense -- nice staff, good folks hanging around. A classic beer destination in one of America's best beer states.
10-12-2013 21:00:35 | More by easong
4.65/5 rDev +4.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75 | $$
Another one of the must do's when in the waterbury area. I've been to blackback a dozen times or so and the draft selection never lets you down. All the best Vt craft at this small watering hole. I went with an hf abner followed by a lawsons chinookered and double dose....need I say more!
Its a small bar and tough to get a spot at the bar on a weekend but worth the wait once you do. Once you do get that spot you can order some mad taco which is simply awesome stuff.
Blackback is an absolute must when in the area. Cheers
10-07-2013 02:53:36 | More by sirsteve42
4.45/5 rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.75 | $$
Stopped in at Blackback twice (one day, one night) during a weekend in Waterbury.
The atmosphere in this place is great. Really small and welcoming. Their website gives you the impression that this is more of a fishing spot than a bar, which seems incorrect. One long bar split into two rooms with two tvs showing hockey in the day and odd movies at night. There was a bit of a fight when we went at night, apparently about ice cream, but the ones involved seemed like the type to start that sort of thing. Blackback can definitely be described as cozy.
Lot's of the heavy hitters from Vermont on tap and pouring nice. Nothing was off.
Nice enough bartenders that were chatty when it was welcomed and left us alone when we were talking. They seemed to know enough about the beers they were serving, but we pretty much knew what we were getting before ordering. Glassware had lipstick on it and the problem was fixed quickly. Put on the hockey games we wanted to see.
Hill Farmstead, Lawson's, etc. Gooood stuff. Some of the more interesting brews from these guys were available and quite a few interesting taps alongside those. My only complaint is that they could have more taps, but they seem to be going for quality instead of quantity.
The food is pretty awesome here. I had two tacos which were amazing. One was kimchi and pork which blew my mind. Probably the best tacos I've ever had, and quite cheap if I remember correctly. There is also a selection of about 6-8 home made hot sauces which were all cleverly named and tasted great.
Just go to Blackback.
09-10-2013 15:15:46 | More by tbeckett
4.48/5 rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
They had 17 beer on tap and one on cask the last time I visited. A lot of great locals available as well as some beers from afar. They have expanded since my last visit a couple of years ago and it is helpful in finding room to settle in to try all the tasty brew. Friendly service and friendly folks drinking on all sides of me. I ordered a couple of very tasty tacos - chatted with the cook who was a cool guy. Overall a really fun experience on a Sunday afternoon.
06-08-2013 17:47:27 | More by ThirstyBird
4.5/5 rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
I live in New Hampshire and travel up to Waterbury for cases of Heady Topper. The best thing about the trip is the ability to drive 2 miles from the Alchemist brewery and be in the middle of three bars stocked with the absolute best VT microbrews available. Blackback is the small place, but always(usually) has the some of the most interesting offerings from Lawson's and Hill Farmstead. If you are in the downtown area and don't stop in to see what they are offering on tap, poo on you. The bartenders are super nice and its just a really chill place to stop for a great beer. Highly recommended, not sure about food quality because it seems like an afterthought for them.
UPDATE: Mad Taco is there and it's great. The pork taco with kimchi was delicious. Great pairings to absorb some of the high abv DIPAs you are sure to swill.
05-11-2013 23:00:14 | More by NHbeerfishing
4.5/5 rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
If you're visiting the area, this is where you come for your Hill Farmstead and Lawson's fix. There is nowhere in the state where you'll find more taps from those two breweries.
The Blackback is a dive bar. It's a dark, slightly below ground space haphazardly decorated with fishing gear. There are about 20 seats at the bar which wraps through two rooms, as well as a few tables under the chalkboard and some seats along the windowsill. There are a couple of TVs, usually with something random on. You'll usually find a mix of locals and beer tourists enjoying their world-class brews and good conversation. It can get busy, especially during peak tourist times.
Despite its outward appearance, this place is a world-class beer bar. The owner cares about craft beer, only serves the best, and a proper pour of each offering comes in the appropriate glassware.
Service is excellent. There is typically only one bartender working, but I've never had to wait too long for a beer. If the owner, Ricky, is in he loves to talk beer. I've had great experiences with any of the other bartenders as well. They're attentive and friendly.
Selection is obviously why you come to the Blackback. At any given time there will be up to 6 Hill Farmstead drafts and up to 4 Lawson's drafts. It's a rare day when there's a bar anywhere serving more from those two breweries. In addition, there could be other locals like Zero Gravity, other domestic crafts like Bear Republic or Cigar City, and some interesting imports.
Food is excellent now that the Mad Taco has moved in. For a while, you'd stop into Blackback for beers and eat across the street at Reservoir or the Pig. Now you can settle in for the night at Blackback. Between the excellent Mad Taco food and the beer selection, there's no need to go anywhere else.
04-16-2013 16:42:59 | More by MThiele360
Blackback Pub & Flyshop in Waterbury, VT
98 out of 100 based on 80 ratings.