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Blackback Pub & Flyshop

Not Rated.
Blackback Pub & FlyshopBlackback Pub & Flyshop
BA SCORE
98
world-class

173 Ratings
Ratings: 173
Reviews: 65
rAvg: 4.43
pDev: n/a
Taps: 9
Bottles: 10
Cask: Y
[ Bar, Eatery ]

1 Stowe St
Waterbury, Vermont, 05676-1820
United States
phone: (802) 505-5115

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
Place added by: mariano42 on 05-20-2010

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Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 173 | Reviews: 65
Reviews by Roguer:
Photo of Roguer
4.23/5  rDev -4.5%
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.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Gkruszewski
4.34/5  rDev -2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Great craft beer selection.... Wish they had flights!!!

Photo of bevdaddy
4.66/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

First time being back since the new ownership took over in May 2014.

Great draft list - as good as the other two in the "Big 3 of Waterbury". Like any of them - it all depends on your timing. Plenty of Heady cans, HFB and Lawsons on tap as well as other VT and global beers.

The new crew has expanded the kitchen, now there is a menu full of nachos and chili, etc. They are not trying to be the places across the street and the vibe/menu go well together.

A "must hit" when in town. But you already knew that.

Photo of Macsimus
4.95/5  rDev +11.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Loved this place. Went several times while enjoying a two night stay in town.

GREAT draft selection and loved the atmosphere : ) Great patrons too!!

Photo of woodchip
4.54/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Killer small place with an awesome vibe. I didn't eat any of the food because I already ate at the Reservoir. The taplist is not huge but the beers are! Dig this place, and is another must if in the area.

Photo of mynie
4.35/5  rDev -1.8%

My favorite places are the ones where when I first go in it seems like the people don't like me but then after a few minutes they figure out I'm cool and treat me real good. This was one of those places, but my enjoyment of it was very particular to me. If you are a not an abrasive, "love him or hate him"-style weirdo like myself, then this joint might not work for you. If you are, well, welcome to a real nice joint, friend.

The tap selection was limited, but everything was Capital-G good, and frankly I'd prefer that to 25 taps where everything is just lower-g good.

The vibe was an entrancing mix of the vibrant and the dingy. The walls were green. Lots of bottles and piping and old plastic buckets all covered in dust with basement cobwebs clumped in the uppermost corners of walls. The dude behind the bar had a conversation with us about god remembers what. It was a very nice place and I hope someday to go back there again.

Photo of Pawoto
5/5  rDev +12.9%

Blackback Pub is my favorite place on earth. I live in Southern, NH and a few times a year make the drive to Waterbury to spend the night drinking amazing craft beer at Blackback Pub. I was a little worried about the new owners - they cleaned the place up, added tvs, and added their own kitchen (instead of mad taco) - but its still a little slice of heaven.

Check their facebook page for updates on the draftlist - usually you'll find a couple of Hill Farmstead offerings, cans of Heady Topper, and a Lawson's beer. They also have cantillon on tap more than any bar in the area.

The perfect VT trip...arrive at HF right as they open, fill growlers and then head up to Parker Pie for lunch. From Parker Pie head down to Waterbury, stop to try to buy Heady Topper at CBC and the little gas station just near the highway, then check in at The Old Stagecoach Inn. Spend a couple of hours at Blackback and then head over to Prohibition Pig for delicious BBQ. Check out Reservoir and then immediately leave because it sucks. Hang with Lauren at Blackback until they kick you out! Get up in the morning and scarf down the breakfast at The Old Stagecoach Inn. On the way home stop at The Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier to spend any money you have leftover on underpriced Bruery offerings...

Photo of TheBungyo
4.25/5  rDev -4.1%

Visiting Blackback was a great way to try a few different offerings from Hill Farmstead without driving all the way to the brewery and waiting in a ridiculous line. Very good service and tasty food. The selection of brews on tap was heavily geared toward local, which was nice to see. A must visit when in Waterbury.

Photo of jvodom
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%

Great small bar in downtown Waterbury. The draft selection was great. They will do 1/2 pours if you ask. My brother and I went there after dinner at The Reservoir. It was game 6 of the World Series and the bartender, Eric I think, had his SF jersey on. I was rooting for KC. We had fun drinking the great VT beers and watching the game.
The place is small, but we got a seat at the bar on the right side of the building. It was a little weird looking since they expanded into the place next door. You almost feel like it is separate bars.
Definitely worth stopping here. All the people we met were very friendly.

Photo of hudsonheat
4.25/5  rDev -4.1%

Finally got into this place on my recent trip to Waterbury. Great beer selection, cool vibe. Want to check this place out on a cold winters night in February.

Photo of beerbully
3.61/5  rDev -18.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.25

A-Visited on a Sunday afternoon for beers and a sandwich...place was fairly dead with a few people at the bar.

Q-beers were served in proper glassware

S-took a while to pour the beers as it seemed the bartender didn't have the taps set right. One beer that was served took at least 5 minutes to arrive from the time it was ordered. Beer was foaming into glass and bartender poured into another glass and finally serve an $8 dollar beer that was half beer and half foam. As she served it she said, "that's the best I could do"...she still charged full price despite recognizing the inferior pour. This was the first beer ordered and set the tone for the visit.

S-Beer selection was clearly written on a big chalkboard on the wall. Great selection of beers including Lawsons, Heady, and Hillstead.

F-ordered the Cuban sandwich tasted good but a bit slim. Not much meat in the sammy ...one slice of pork and one slice of ham

V-considering the service, the poor pours, and the size of the sandwich, there are better places nearby...that offer the same beers

Photo of amano_h
4.63/5  rDev +4.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

It's always a good sign when you drink at a bar where locals come to drink. It's even better when that bar carries some of Vermont's best, and through that proxy, some of the world's best beers on a regular basis.

The only minus that I arguably see going against Blackback is their pub fare -- they recently changed from Mad Taco to Maggie's Kitchen, and no offense to Maggie because her food is absolutely delightful and delectable, they don't quite have the kinks all resolved yet. The first time I went in, I ordered her sliders which took over half an hour to arrive in front me; the second time I ordered their poblano chili and the Green Mountain Salad, which took slightly less time, but still took a lot longer for what should be relatively simple pub food. (I wasn't the only person that night that noticed this the nights I went -- there was a local group of five people that decided to have conversations about how long they'd been waiting from around minute 27 of not having food in front of them at the bar)

That being said, the food itself was great -- every bit of the slider was like a perfectly crafted masterpiece, the fluffy french brioche-esque buns mixes splendidly with the veggie/meat/chili patty, and the serving size was just enough to leave me full for the rest of the day's activities. The Poblano chili came highly recommended by the new owner of the pub and for good reason; every hearty bite was as satisfying as the next; there wasn't that much of heat to the dish, but all the ingredients tasted fresh and well-blended together. The Green Mountain salad was as fresh and delicious as you would expect out of any restaurant serving food prepared with fresh, local ingredients.

Overall, great draft/bottle selections, great food and prices, but they could probably benefit greatly from working out some glaring logistics issues in the kitchen.

Photo of BoldRulerVT
4.64/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.75

Love the Black Back for food from the Mad Taco and local brews from Hill Farmstead, Lawson's and Alchemist.
Ambiance is a touch small and low ceiling make it feel a bit cramped, but I sit at the bar usually so that makes it feel a bit more open. Service is great, attentive servers. Selection of beer is nice, not as expansive as The Res. but still great. Food is wonderful and relatively cheap for how delicious it is.

Photo of Mikeluzzjr
2.78/5  rDev -37.2%
vibe: 2.75 | quality: 3.25 | service: 2 | selection: 3

First time visiting during the HF anniversary. Chose this place over the other 2 bars because their website and numerous other places said they open at 11am, and the other 2 bars were opening at 11:30. Turns out, they decided to open at 11:30 also. Off to a bad start. Wait in line about 2 hours, and I'm not very far back so I know I'll get a seat at the bar. Finally the doors open (last of the 3 bars to actually open the doors) and as we start moving in, they decide to throw open another door behind me so that a bunch of people I was in front of get in first. Needless to say, I did not get a seat at the bar. We are told they have 22 lines pouring, and I see 22 beers listed on the board. Can i have an Abner? Not on yet. Damon? Nope. Edward cask? Not yet. So of course, after hanging out and drinking everything else, I still never got these beers. The other really awesome thing was that none of the prices on the board were correct. I order 2 beers that should be $13... they charge me $18. 2 that should have been $15, they charge me $17. Or I was getting half pours for 50 cents less than the full pour that the menu said I would get. Overall just really unhappy with the experience at this place.

Photo of parris
5/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

World class pub serving world class beers. Horrible selection for fly fishing supplies.

But seriously, there's always something from each of the breweries you visited Vermont to drink. Bar tenders are just as fantastic as the beer.

They have a chalkboard where they write the current selection.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.68/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75

This quickly became my favourite beer spot in Waterbury after my first visit. Great low-key atmosphere, which is a big contrast to the other spots in Waterbury. The tap list wasn't huge but was full of great stuff, including a few from HF (Abner, Edward, Everett, George), Sip of Sunshine and Beer Geek Brunch Weasel. Service was excellent as well. Did not have any food here. The perfect place to go for pints after dinner at Pro Pig.

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.84/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

Photo of slander
4.45/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Photo of T-34-85
4.48/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

Photo of easong
4.1/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

Photo of sirsteve42
4.65/5  rDev +5%
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

Photo of tbeckett
4.45/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Photo of ThirstyBird
4.48/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

Photo of NHbeerfishing
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

Photo of MThiele360
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Blackback Pub & Flyshop in Waterbury, VT
98 out of 100 based on 173 ratings.