The Black Sparrow

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The Black SparrowThe Black Sparrow
19 Ratings
The Black SparrowThe Black Sparrow

Type: Bar, Eatery

223 Main St
Lafayette, Indiana, 47901-1261
United States

(765) 429-0405 | map

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Added by emerge077 on 06-29-2008

View: Place Reviews
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Ratings: 19 |  Reviews: 15
Reviews by jamescain:
Photo of jamescain
3.93/5  rDev -8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

So I found out about this place late in my career at Purdue too, which is too bad because it probably would have become my favorite spot. During my senior year I got tired of going out and getting drunk with my roommates, but I still wanted to go out. This would have been my place. It kind of has the hipster vibe if you will, but it is certainly more laid back then a campus bar. I had a pizza when I went there and it was some of the better food I had while at Purdue, since they actually use fresh ingredients. They don't have a huge tap selection or bottle selection, but its solid. During the summer the tapped a fresh keg of Devil Dancer, to give you an idea of the quality they could get. The bartender was nice when I was there and let me sample beers until I decided on what I liked. Every now and then they had a live band play. I think because it was a bit pricy (for a college student) and because of the laid back vibe, most of the younger crowd stayed away.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of NoYouDidnt
4.33/5  rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25

Vibe- nice hardwood oldish vibes. Cozy enough. Hipsterish spot. Great spot for 2-4 no more than that. Quality-clean spot, well served beers, different glass wares. Service- knowledgeable folks behind the bar. And the rest of the staff is aware of the beers on tap. Everyone seems nice and attentive. Selection- nice selection. The locals are way more creative than just standard locals. They get some nice rare releases. They get lots of interesting regional brewery releases too. So, always an interesting tap list. One of 2 best in town for selection. Food- quality food. Fairly small menu. Better than many surrounding pubs. Overall- very good place for beer especially. Nice place for both beer and food.

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Photo of mynie
2.8/5  rDev -34.4%
vibe: 1 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 3

"Hipster" is a meaningless pejorative, tossed out mindlessly by assholes who wish to bash an aesthetic without putting any thought into their criticisms. At least, that's how it normally works. Sometimes, "hipster" refers to a very specific vibe, one that projects judgmental nonchalance, one that has so fully embraced irony that it's lost all sense of decency.

And here we are. A place with damn good taps. The crowd varies greatly throughout the day, from businesspeople and workaday drunks in the early evenings, to the deepest dregs of hip humanity at 3 AM. Jaded grad students abound.

The staff always seemed to treat me nicely. They didn't outwardly hate me, as they do so many others. Still, there's a feeling I get when interacting with a man wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a DARE shirt where I'm like 95% sure he's making fun of me behind my back, and 99% percent sure he's trying to bang my girlfriend. Because he probably is.

The staff make fun of patrons for not knowing enough about beer. Which is neat, because the staff know very little about beer (the reason Gumballhead tastes so great, I was once told, is that "it's got a thousand different types of hops in it," and also for a while they all mixed up hop flavors and malt flavors). Don't try striking up a conversation. You will walk away empty and sad.

The owner is a giant, giant creep. Like, even here in the pseudonymous obscurity of BA's "Place Rating" section, I hesitate to relay the stories I've been told. They are scandalous, and not in a fun "sassy black PR lady" way. Scandalous in a "OMG this guy should be caged" way. So don't talk to him, either. Especially if you're a woman. (And don't go into the woman's bathroom alone if it's a slow night)

But the taps! They're real good! Mostly Indiana brews, but they get some very nice surprises here and there. A keg or two of Hopslam each year, BCBS variants, FFF one-offs, etc. Once they had a firkin of Two Hearted that was just divine.

So, yeah, good beer. Weird vibe. Rotten, soulless people.

I was just reminded of a wonderful incident, back when this was the only place in town with good beer and I frequented it a few times a week. For a good month, the whole stuff confused "hops" with "every other flavor in beer aside from hops." They knew hops were cool, they knew they liked them, but they had no idea what hops tasted like. Delirium Tremens was "super hoppy," while Alpha King was "fruity, got some big malt in there." If this was a joke, it was some beyond-Andy Kauffman performance art shit, because every single member of the staff was dedicated to it.

This stunning ignorance did not stop the staff from condescending to every person who asked any question about any of the beers. Someone would ask what something tasted like and they'd roll their eyes at one another, sigh exaggeratedly, and then say "this is an IPA. It's very malty." I am dead serious. That's an actual quote.

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Photo of Clumsy
5/5  rDev +17.1%

Photo of Dief88
3.25/5  rDev -23.9%

Photo of Nic_Noir
5/5  rDev +17.1%

Photo of vainqueur59
3.98/5  rDev -6.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 5

Photo of neckbracesub
3.59/5  rDev -15.9%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.25 | food: 4

It could have been the timing of the visit (just after Beers Across The Wabash Festival ended), but our first experience with The Black Sparrow didn't exactly live up to expectations.

That's not to say that I disliked the place. The atmosphere is clean and spacious and very craft beer friendly. This just happened to be at a time when it was so loud you could barely hear yourself speak, and it was so crammed that the service was bogged down a bit.

The selection of beers on the tap list left a little something to be desired. There were only a few beers to choose from and nothing too exciting. I had just sampled over 50 beers at the festival so I wasn't too concerned with enjoying a pint at the bar, but if I was I would have been disappointed at their selection at the time.

The food, on the other hand, was pretty terrific. I had a pizza for myself and it was marvelous. All of the other people in my group seemed to be happy with the food as well.

Based on my initial visit to BS, I'd say the place is a bit over-hyped, but I will definitely give it another shot the next time I am around.

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Photo of TroopScoop
4.4/5  rDev +3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

A: No jukebox. No TVs. Just good company, great beer, amazing mixed drinks. Say what you will about "hipsters" going there, but it doesn't matter.

Q: only 7 - 10 beers on tap at a time, but its a combination of local Indiana tributes & world class. Usually a local Peoples seasonal, a FFF, and then any combination of interesting goodies. I've seen KBS, Vertical Epic, & Nemesis in this random mid-west indiana bar.

S:Same as above. The beer on tap is not a lot, but its damn good. The wine selection is even better. Honestly, the mixed drinks take the cake. Its an $8 or $9 drink, bit holy cow, it'll be a very superb 8oz of liquid set before you.

F: again, a limited menu of flatbread pizzas, sandwiches, and a few very exotic plates, but enough to satisfy a picky palette or the snobbiest foody.

V: all this goodness comes with a price. Its not cheap, but not downtown metropolitan prices. On my college budget, I can't ask for much more.

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Photo of ElizabethCraig
4.65/5  rDev +8.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5

"No crap on tap" is what the chalkboard above their taps firmly states.

They mean it.

A nice variety of beers - from breweries like Figure 8, People's Brewing Company, Flat 12, Bell's, Brassierie Dupont, and many more from Indiana and around the nation.

The food - They have 2 levels to their menu currently as they go through some transition to new food selection. Their printed menu has appetizers like hummus, Romanesco/goat cheese, and bacon wrapped figs. They have sandwiches, meat-adorned salads, pizza and other mains.

The chalkboard to the left of the bar has the stars. Fish and chips with crispy herbed breading and a zesty sauce for the fish. Steak frites, sometimes with different meat cut options. And, more depending on the season.

The menu and board specials feature as many local meats/breads/vegetables as possible - they work with a lot of local meat and vegetable farmers. Many regional and seasonal fruits feature heavily in their seasonal mixed drink menu.

The service is generally exceptional - they feature music some nights and once it gets crowded it's generally more difficult to enjoy a relaxing dinner. Do come early to soak in the atmosphere, chat with the bartenders and the regulars at the bar while you eat and drink.

Go for the excellent beers on tap. Go for a nice bottle beer menu. Go for the food. Go for the seasonal mixed drinks (excellent!). Go to chat and soak it all in. =)

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Photo of ModemMisuser
4.63/5  rDev +8.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

You never know who you're going to run into at Sparrow. Everyone, from 20-somethings, to 50-somethings (60-somethings?) freely mingle, chat, and enjoy drink and food together.

The tap beer selection is awesome (and changes often). "No crap on tap" is their motto, and it's true. I would add the sub-motto "... but we'll be happy to sell you crap in a can." but that's just me. ;)

The food is incredible. Steak Frites. Awesome Fish-n-Chips. Every month or so, they do a Sunday brunch featuring local chefs (and usually mostly local food).

There's really nothing to NOT like here, unless you can't handle smoke at all. They do allow smoking and people do take advantage of it. It's a bar! :D

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Photo of aasher
4.85/5  rDev +13.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

The Sparrow is a quality bar located in Lafayette, across the street from the restaurant Red 7 and around the street from beer bar Chumleys. It features a different atmosphere than any of the other bars that Purdue students may venture to, especially across the bridge. The room with the bar features a weathered brick wall and they feature the beers they have on tap on a chalkboard. They generally have excellent beer on tap. They have six taps but regularly feature Three Floyd's specialty beers as well as Dogfish Head's specialty beers and various beers by Founder's. The best selection I've ever seen there at once included Bell's Hopslam, Three Floyd's Dreadnaught, Founder's Double Trouble, and Crazy Horse Double Crooked Tree IPA. They also have high quality craft brews in bottles such as Founder's Breakfast Stout and Chimay. The atmosphere is more mature than anyone from Purdue is used to. Some say it's a "hipster" bar but that doesn't bother me. The one downside is that you can smoke in Lafayette but that's about it. Their beer selection is excellent and the bar gives off a great vibe. Some of the more experienced bartenders really know their stuff and are fun to talk to. If you like good beer and are stopping by The Black Sparrow, definitely stop in to see what craft beers they've got on tap.

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Photo of salvo
4.28/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Excellent hipster bar with daily specials. They go out of their way to get rare/interesting beers, and buy local, seasonal, and organic products. Beer selection changes often and they get the best stuff from around the region and the country. Servers are often very knowledgeable, and if not will find someone (usually the bartender) who is. Also an excellent selection of craft spirits and creative cocktails mixed expertly. Local and touring bands welcome and invited -- there's a link to schedule your band/artist on the website.

I bring visiting friends and family all the time and eat twice or three times a month here myself. Beers seem to stay on the blackboard list only as long as their one or two keg supplies last, and I often call to find out what's new on tap. One of few places where I will follow the bartender's recommendation, and trust their taste.

This spring, the special was asparagus with poached egg, which doesn't seem like a big deal until you taste it. Last week I had a garden salad that had local beets, roast green onions and garlic, butter lettuce, and goat cheese and I think about it every lunchtime. Pizza special this week was locally cured salami. All excellent.

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Photo of Stacy53
4.72/5  rDev +10.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

It is a cliché but, I Love This Bar!

The Black Sparrow is the place to go in Lafayette, IN

A- This bar is very welcoming, a fair amount of places to sit and stand. The crowd is a very nice group full of new and familiar faces. The few draw backs are that it can get pretty smoky later at night and very crowded if their is live music.

Q- I think you are getting what you pay for here and it is worth it. The beer is of the highest quality with 8 rotating taps. They support local and get great beers in to support their "No Crap On Tap" slogan. The bottled selection is great as well.

S- All of the servers and bartenders are very friendly and knowledgeable! Service is fast, even when there is a huge crowd.

S- Well... I kind of already covered this, but again the beer selection is great! I also sometimes indulge in a liquor beverage here and they have one of the largest high quality selections in this area as well.

F- I have really liked everything I have tried. They have small plate appetizers, sandwiches, specialty pizzas, and high quality dinner specials. I only scored this section low because while the menu is great it is small.

V- Very reasonable on drinks and food. Food ranges from $5-$12 Beers on tap are usually $4-$6 Mixed drinks I am not too sure on but my usual is $3 at well and $5 with my liquor choice. They also have cocktails that are a bit more pricey around $7-$9 but they are very good!

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Photo of HappyHourHero
4.78/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Let's start with the beer. There are 8 rotating taps, and the motto is "No crap on tap". They're not kidding. They typically have the current Goose Island special release (e.g. Matilda, Pepe Nero, etc), something from Founders, other IN breweries like the new Sun King in Indy and the local People's Brewing. There is also often something Belgian, or something hoppy, or Rye, or ... oh you get the point. Prices range from about $4 a pint for the regular ABV local stuff to about $6 -$7 for the rare high ABV stuff. I think the most I've paid is $8 for a 12oz Kentucky Breakfast Stout. There is also a nice bottle selection which you can read on their website, but that's not why I go there. One of the reasons I started going there was because they had a IIPA week last fall where all 8 taps were IIPAs, which I thought was the coolest thing ever.

The bartenders and waiters are fairly knowledgeable. The seem to have a general idea of what they are serving, and if it's something a little odd they'll go find out more and typically offer to let you sample some.

I think they play music, maybe not. They do have bands some evenings, but there aren't any TVs. The place actually takes up two narrow building with one side being the bar area and the other side the The inside is usually pretty dark, and it gets smokey at night, which is why I deducted a half point there.

The menu is simple, but the food is quite good so no complaints. It's mostly sandwiches and pizza, but it's fresh, almost gourmet, and not that reheated Sysco crap I see so often.They will typically have a couple of more complete dinner specials (i.e. meat and potato type plates).

There is a place around the corner with like 50 taps, and a lot of them are good beers, but I gravitate towards The Black Sparrow. I guess it's not how big your draft system is, but how you use it.

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Photo of emerge077
4.19/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Black Sparrow is a cool joint. It would fit right in if it were in Chicago, but it's in downtown Lafayette, which makes it even cooler. Atmosphere on early Sunday evening was laid-back, not too crowded, though there were a few smoking at the bar. Lighting was dim with eclectic art on the walls, and show posters advertising live music. The walls were exposed brick and cutaway plaster, which lent a bohemian sort of vibe. Lighting was sort of minimal and industrial (vertical metal lightbulb cages). There were a few tables opposite the bar, and larger ones in a second room off to the left, which also housed the kitchen in the rear.

8 taps had some good stuff flowing, I opted for a People's Maltser, which was solid. They had a firkin of 2 Hearted on the bar also, but sadly it was long in the tooth. From Sun King they had a Doppelbock. Bottle list had many quality options like Aventinus, FFF Dreadnaught, Ommegang, etc., around 40 total.

There was no one behind the bar when we arrived, and I waited awhile for anyone to show up and serve up a beer (with cash in hand). After a "got ID bro?" I finally got a damn beer... Our server was much better and really on the ball, and he chatted beer with us for awhile.

Food was tasty, creative and homemade, the BLT&E was excellent with a side of sweet potato/corn/crab soup. Margherita pizza was good too, almost tasted wood-fired.

All in all, worth a detour off I-65, or if you're headed to Purdue.

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Photo of backfat
4.26/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

best tap list in town in my opinion. they don't have the most, but they definitively have the quality. "no crap on tap" written in caulk above the ever changing tap list. they often rotate and keep a lot of quality local beers going. got a great cream dream double ipa from sun king that was awesome the other night. they got a keg of KBS that i heard was gone in about four hours. plenty of bottle from FFF and founders which is perfect for me. the bartenders are great and very knowledgeable about beer. the place does occasionally get really busy, so the service can suffer to a degree. i've never had a chance to try the food here, but i've only heard great things about it. there is smoking but it doesn't get out of control unless they are super busy. a must stop if you are in the area.

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Photo of manahansf
4.2/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

This place is a little niche in downtown Lafayette and I had heard about their selection of draft beer and their strict following of "No crap on tap!" I had to check it out. Very comfortable place with awesome beer. They only have a few taps but each one is quality craft beer. Very impressed. Although the prices are high, it is to be expected with the caliber of beer served. A pint of World Wide Stout was still cheaper than just buying a bottle... Great place to check out and to check out often becasue the drafts are constantly rotating.

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Photo of spointon
4.36/5  rDev +2.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Visited 08/30/2008.

I stopped by the Black Sparrow to meet a friend while I was in town overnight. Because this place did not exist the last time I visited Lafayette, I had no idea what to expect. To my pleasant surprise this is a serious beer lover's pub.

Upon entering, you quickly realize that this pub is broken up into several small spaces, as an old pub would be. The bar is on the right and to the left are a few tables and a doorway into another room where the live music/DJ operate.

The bottle selection is really great (50 beers!) and the night I was there the draft selection was great too. It was a solid mix of regional craft brews as well as imports (hefes, hoppy stuff, strong Belgians, etc).

Prices were very reasonable/fair. The only real downside we found with the place was that it became VERY crowded, very quickly on a Saturday night and the cigarette smoke was a bit overwhelming. All in all a great pub though, and one I will surely visit again.

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The Black Sparrow in Lafayette, IN
Place rating: 4.27 out of 5 with 19 ratings