The Berkley Front
Taps: 42 / Bottles:
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 12 | Reviews: 10 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by benito:
2.8/5 rDev -31.2%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 2 | $
Though I grew up only a few miles away from the Berkley Front, I'd only ever been here once, long before I was into beer. Given it's reputation as the best beer bar in Metro Detroit, I figured I had to refresh my memory and give it another shot.
The Berkley Front is a nondescript dive bar with 53 taps, a few pool tables, and a dearth of character. There's a bit of beer paraphanalia adorning the walls, including some noteworthy bumper stickers for Michigan breweries. There are pool tables up front; then, the bar is divided into a seating area with booths and high tables and the bar proper. The only beer menu is the large dry-erase board behind the bar, which is conveniently organized in the same order as the tap handles.
When I visited they had 42 taps going--an impressive number. Yet the vast majority of these taps were dedicated to ubiquitous craft brews and imports. If this is truly the best bar for beer in Detroit, where are all the Michigan brews? They had Oberon and Michigan Brewing's Mackinac Pale Ale on tap and had run out of Two Hearted on cask. What about Founders, New Holland, Jolly Pumpking, Arcadia, and any of the Detroit breweries? There was also hardly any representation of other midwestern craft brewers (Goose Island, Stoudt's, Ommegang and Summit had a tap each). I never imagined that I would struggle to find something unique at a bar with 42 taps, but the Berkley Front proved me wrong.
The service was fast and friendly enough, and the beers were well priced, but this wasn't enough to redeem a disappointingly large/largely disappointing selection of brews. There's great potential in a Michigan beer focused beer bar in the Detroit area; it's a mystery why the Berkley Front hasn't tapped into it.
Next time I visit, I'll save some money here and put it to gas to get me to Ashley's and back.
Some logistics: there is ample, free parking in the lot behind the bar. The bar itself is fairly small, and it's popular, which means that it is also loud and smoky. There's no outside seating (from what I could tell), so plan to have your clothes stink at night's end.
08-21-2008 12:47:58 | More by benito
More User Reviews:
3.7/5 rDev -9.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3 | $
the berkley front is one of the best beer spots in metro detroit. the berkley front has nearly 50 taps and even more brews available by the bottle.most michigan brews are available year round. there is a very eclectic juke box with lots of good selections. this is a great spot to hang with a large group. the berkley front is a great atmosphere to hang out with friends. they have live music upstairs on most weekends but if thats not your thing you can hang downstairs and still hear well enough to have a conversation. if they had popcorn it could be the perfect beer bar.
01-22-2012 23:58:01 | More by cgrz
4/5 rDev -1.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Visited this establishment twice within a week while in the area. The first on a Sunday evening and noted 42 beers on tap, one cask tap (Arcadia Brewing's Arcadia IPA) not to mention numerous bottles. The place seemed to have a selection that had a good variety of styles and breweries. The services was good, I ordered the beer on cask and got about 3/4 of a beer as the cask was kicked, so the bartender gave me the beer for free. Pretty cool. The crowd as sparse, but it was a Sunday, but still a good vibe nonetheless. The only downside was that by 9pm the kitchen was closed. I didn't spend very long in the place as I needed something to eat, but I thought that if I lived in the area, it could be my local.
Overall, a solid establishment and one that I would return to if I am ever back in the area.
06-17-2011 02:38:05 | More by PhillyStyle
4.94/5 rDev +21.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$
I was in town visiting some friends of mine from High School after going to the Front for a while for Sierra Club meetings. I didn't drink anything this time around except a water but nevertheless the service was impeccable and friendly despite it being crowded. The main problem this place used to have is that it was smoky as hell, now that Michigan has gone smoke-free in bars this place is way better than it used to be. If you're having a fancy beer you want to be able to taste it. Anyway this place also offers live music with a cover along with cask beer, check it out.
03-03-2011 11:32:56 | More by tallmidget
4.39/5 rDev +7.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$
There were 42 active taps when I went in which I think is a little less than normal (although still a ton more than most places). They had two hearted on a hand pull which I was intending to try but got distracted by the selection.
It is a little bit of a dive bar atmosphere but with a selection and staff dedicated to craft. Sabina (German owner/bartender) is a trip, but tells it how it is.
I have been in here early in the evening on slower days, I would like to see this place pumping. Had a great variety in there bottles also.
03-22-2008 01:02:31 | More by Baileyuk
District of Columbia
3.7/5 rDev -9.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3 | $$
This place is one of the best bars in suburban Detroit area to find solid beer. They've got a great tap selection (around 50, I think), plus 50-100 bottles from all over the place. Their selection is always rotating as well, which is always cool. The actual bar is a bit of a hole - fairly run-down, with mediocre food and generally ignorant bartenders. There's one or two pretty wrecked pool tables. There's also an upstairs where they generally have crappy alt-rock bands, although I think you have to pay a cover. But for beer, this is the place to be. Prices are fair (about $4-6 for a beer).
08-23-2007 18:44:04 | More by soupyman10
3.93/5 rDev -3.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3 | $$
I've been to the Berkley Front roughly 6 times over the past 6 months with the most recent time being last night. The waitstaff is incredibly friendly, which is usually what will keep me coming back to a place. Their selection is fine - a lot of farily common stuff on draft, but they have been getting a lot of local gems recently - last night they had Short's Huma-Lupa-Licious IPA on draught, which I had never seen or heard of before. They seem to have an overabundance of English ales - Boddingtons, Old Speckled Hen, Monty Python's Holy Ale, among others. However, they do have Bells Two Hearted on cask, which is quite a treat. There's roughly 40 beers on draught and a whole lot in bottles, maybe another 100 or so.
My main problem is they allow smoking throughout and if you go on a busy night, there's no escaping it. There's loud music and pool tables, but that's fine & good if you like that sort of thing - I don't care one way or the other. The food is so-so - the couple time's I've eaten there the food has tasted good, but was cold or visibly not fresh. Value is fine - around $3 - $7 a pint depending on ABV - bottles, of course, are more expensive. PBR is only $3 draught I noticed. Food is moderately priced for bar food.
This place is cool if you're looking for somewhere to go after work for a few sessionable beers. Recommended.
01-27-2007 18:45:36 | More by montageman
3.9/5 rDev -4.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3 | $
I first tried this a year and a half ago, but I had too much fun to remember it clearly. Now I had a chance for a more sober review.
Atmosphere is OK, with a roughly 20 ft long bar and 40 taps behind it. Mostly really good USA microbrews, especially good selection of Michigan beers. The drafts were about $4 each which seemed like a pretty good deal. I tried Brooklyn Fortitude and Bell's Oberon, both on tap.
The food is nothing special, just bar food. But the beer will draw me back again in the future.
04-28-2006 00:15:42 | More by TurdFurgison
The Berkley Front in Berkley, MI
91 out of 100 based on 12 ratings.