Nail Creek Pub & Brewery

Your Rating: None
Very Good
8 Ratings

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

720 Varick St
Utica, New York, 13502
United States

(315) 792-1111 | map

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Added by kkosmoski on 10-03-2008

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View: Beers | Place Reviews
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Ratings: 18 |  Reviews: 12
Photo of Hibernator
3.71/5  rDev -7.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.25 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.25

We went to the Nail Creek Pub & Brewery this afternoon for lunch. It's literally right next door to Saranac, so it's an ideal one-two punch if you're looking to schedule that trip. We arrived around 12:30PM and the limited indoor seating was full so we sat outside at one of the picnic tables.

The vibe and atmosphere is definitely cool. Unfortunately, our service was inconsistent throughout the visit and even required some prompting to get another round or the bill at the end of the meal. Maybe they were understaffed, I don't know. Our waiter was friendly and responsive when present, it was just difficult to track him down at times. I think there was eight or nine draft options, but there was no beer menu, so that made things a tad challenging. The waiter did his best to recite what was available, but why not have a list?

Anyhoo, I had a Porter and Double IPA, both were fresh. The food was the absolute highlight at this place though, let me make that much clear. They have a limited food menu, but what they offer they do it well. Quality over quantity is the name of the game and I respect that. I had the Spanish Chicken and Dumpling and it was exceptional. One of the best things I've ate in a long time, packed with flavor. Everyone I was with raved about their lunch.

This place was solid and worth a visit if in the area.

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Photo of stage_master
4.09/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

Photo of AMCimpi
4/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Photo of MadScientist
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Photo of smurphy493
5/5  rDev +25%

Photo of Ainman11
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

There is always new beers on tap. For only having 8 or so taps there is such a variety. Music goes through there all the time. There is a "100 Beer List" That you have to drink one whole glass to be able to write it in your queue for beers you drank there. The bartenders are always on top of beer info such as ABV and similar styles of beers so you can make a good decision on what you want.

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Photo of DoubleMalt
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%

Photo of squack
4.2/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.75

I love this pub. I have only found 2 faults. Fault the first; seating is limited in the winter while the outside deck is closed. Fault the second; I do wish they would more of their house brews on tap more often. Still my favorite place in Upstate New York to get a pint.

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Photo of tcbl1007
1/5  rDev -75%
vibe: 1 | quality: 1 | service: 1 | selection: 1

This place SUCKS!!! We never had any food, and we never had any beer, and that's because we weren't offered any! My wife and I came in around 6:30pm on 4/20/2013. There were, at the most, 12-14 people in the place (i.e., it was not even remotely busy). The waitress walked by us twice, with no drinks or food, and never gave us the time of day. The rude idiot could've had the decency to say "I'll be with you in a moment", but she didn't. The girl behind the bar came out from behind the bar and walked right by us, looking at us, and never said "boo". After 10 minutes of nobody there saying anything to us, we said "screw it!". This place is in a crap hole part of town, and I can understand why - because the service is crap. Don't waste your time at this rat trap. The neighborhood sucks, the environment sucks, and the people suck. There's not a single good thing to say about this place. It is garbage through and through. I have no idea how they can even be in business.

For the record, even though we were never offered any food or drink to rate, I gave them a crappy Value only because they had no desire to serve us.

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Stopped by for a liquid dinner during a business trip. Its a very upstate ny bar...very local but inviting.
It was a Saranac tap takeover the night I was there but the black board from the day before had a nice selection of taps...maybe 10?
Great bottle selection. Well small but diverse. Abita to diu de ciel and lots in between.
I didn't have any house brews as Saranac took residency when I was there but they had a breakfast stout advertised I would have tried.
I had the fries...they were fried :)

Live music was a great addition!

Service was great...super nice and quick. Correct glass for the brew, except the hefe was served in a pint. No biggy...
Also, since its upstsate, its dirt cheap! $3.50 to $5.00 per brew...nice.
Seems like the place to be for craft in utica. Stop by!

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Photo of Brenden
4.36/5  rDev +9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

This place is right down the road from the FX Matt brewery. I don't know if people haven't been in them or they've just popped up, but this place is surrounded by other beer establishments and taverns, none of which I myself went into. It's not exactly a beer wasteland out here unless those places just don't have any good beer.
Anyway, the vibe in this place is pretty nice. It doesn't try to sell itself as anything other than what it is, but it's nice and clean and has good seating and an open space to walk through. The bar tends to be a little tight to squeeze into to make an order, but it's not bad. There's a deck outside, so my wife and I were able to enjoy a nice night with our drinks. There's even an upstairs balcony/deck foe extra seating, smoking, or to get a better look out over Varick.
The bartender didn't go out of his way, but was helpful and generally knowledgeable. He was also pretty patient when I was trying to make up my mind about all the beers I could try that I couldn't get living in Ohio.
I didn't get to try any food; strangely, the kitchen closes very early at night, leaving no food, coffee, etc. available. We were there just before 8 pm and couldn't get anything with our drinks. I thought that was odd.
The selection is very good, with 12 taps and 50+ bottles. This is really a place worth going to and one I'd frequent if I lived in the area.

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Photo of Ryanthebear
4.43/5  rDev +10.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

I have been to Nail Creek a few times - only for beer, so I have no opinion regarding their food - and I have been pleased every time. The atmosphere is great. I love the music selection. It has varied from rock to jazz to electronica to a fantastic live folk band. This is by far my favorite place for a beer in Utica, NY.

The staff have always been attentive, helpful, and knowledgeable. The beer selection is great. They have a variety of quality craft brews in bottles and around 12 beers on tap. My one complaint is that they usually dedicate several taps to unimpressive offerings such as Bud Lite, Utica Club, Bass, and Guinness. However, they change their taps frequently, and I have been lucky enough to have Ommegang Hennepin, Delirium Tremens, Saranac Imperial IPA, and a tasty cask ale on tap (unfortunately the name of the cask ale eludes me).

Overall, this place is a gem in Utica and I will be back many times.

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Photo of VegasBill
3.84/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5

Its hard to find a great beer selection in Utica but Nail Creek makes up for that. I settled in for a few beers and since I dont find much Saranac product in the West I had a Irish Red Ale and and Imperial IPA. The bottle selection is huge like 100 or more.
On the downside service was poor almost to the point of being rude. and there was a terrible bathroom odor in the bar, I dont mean to be gross or not proper but it was very unpleasant.
I really want to see this pub succeed so even with the above negatives when I am East next year I will give it one more try.
UPDATE; I promised an update as I went east this year.No bad odors this time. Some people criticize the tap list for having Utica Club on it. In the west this is not available so I enjoy it along with Saranac IPA. I was there on a Friday evening early and for happy hour they put out a big buffet pan with tasty mashed potatoes and all the sides, bacon,cheese,sour cream and many more.

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Photo of chiefjames
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

About time I can grab a decent beer in Utica. This place has a tremendous selection, beer menu is organized very well, I would even go as far as to say better then some of it's Syracuse bretheren. Always a great tap selection, only one macro on (Bud Light with a pink doll skirt on the tap). Bottle selection is tremendous, locals like Ommegang, and stuff that's harder to find like Hitachi Nest (finally got to try the white here!).

It's on Varrick Street in Utica, so unfortunately a lot of the local trash pours in. There are plenty of bars nearby to cater to that type, so it's usually not so bad. Conveniently, there's a decent sized little parking lot right there, if you go during the day there's no problems. Night time might be a little harder, there are a lot of bars on this street. Prices are reasonable, about what I would expect in this area. Food is normal bar food, I believe their kitchen closes at 4:00 so just the beer crew are in at night. Atmosphere's fine, typical bar, it's clean, that's all you can really ask for in Utica. Nice big deck outside that wraps around the whole bar, plenty of places to sit without feeling cramped.

My only complaint here is the service. One time I came here I talked beer with the bartender for a couple hours, I got to sample a few things I've never had before. Awesome experience, but unfortunately that was the only time. Every other time I've been here has been a let down. I should be offered a glass if I'm drinking pretty much anything here (especially a Samuel Smith's which has foil wrapped around the bottle). When I asked for a glass I got a yeah, whatever look then had to wait 5 minutes for a glass (and this is not a big bar). In fact, almost every time I order a bottle of something here I am not offered a glass. If I'm ordering an eighteen dollar bottle of beer, please don't drop it off in front of me, pop the cap, then take off. I don't know if their staff isn't knowledgable about beer, or they just don't care. With a place that has this type of selection, I would hope for more from their staff.

I was turned away from this place the first few months it was open for that very reason. I can drive to Syracuse just the same, plenty of great beer bars out there. I will say this though, I've been there a couple times in the last month or two and the service has drastically improved. Hopefully they can keep it up, because this place has potential.

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Photo of Kevuas
4.14/5  rDev +3.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

I have visited Utica many times, taken the beer tour at Utica Club/Saranac, etc., but as you all know being a BA makes you a bit more selective then the average bear. So I had looked up places in Utica from BA that might be of interest. Lo and behold this place came up, with only 2 reviews to it's credit. But I ventured down to Varick St. anyway.

I was pleasantly surprised at the atmosphere and the selection at Nail Creek. Very quickly I learned that the bartenders knew quite a bit about the selection there, and when they did not know they were not hesitant to ask someone who might. A fine selection of beers, ranging around 70-100 or so if memory serves me correct.

Chris T., the owner, was quick to help me learn more about some of the beers and make recommendations. He even took the time to go down to the basement and pull out a couple beers not on the list. He was very friendly and very knowledgeable, things that are very important to me when I go to a place like this to drink good beers and try new beers.

I highly recommend anyone in Utica or central NY stopping by this place for a few good beers. It's a very cozy room with probably the best collection of craft beers in Utica. I don't recall ever being to a place in Utica with a better selection.

They also have the unique prize of placing your name on a plaque on the wall if you sample 100 beers there. Your name is recorded in a binder and when you drink a beer you add one to the list.

There needs to be a couple of small modifications to make this a bit cozier (like peeling the beer selection list, which is stored in a sheet protector, off the bar top that can be covered in beer!), but all-in-all it's a wonderful place to go and highly recommended for anyone in the area.

Thanks for the memorable time Chris, and I am sure you will see me again.

--- edit
I stopped in on a Saturday night Chris, and you were not feeling well upstairs. Hope to run into you next time!

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Photo of kkosmoski
4.64/5  rDev +16%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

All I can say is its about time the City of Utica got a legitimate beer bar. This is something the City has been missing, forever! Located a couple of doors down Varick Street from the F.X. Matt Brewery, this bar stands out as the crown jewel amongst a slew of lowly dive bars and crappy pizza. The best beer you could find in the Utica area (unless you paid your dues through a tour at the Matt Brewery and camped out at the 1888 tavern) would be a pint of Sierra Nevada Pale, Bass, Guinness, Saranac Adirondack Amber, or a bottle of Ommegang Witte - until a nice, cozy little place called Nail Creek opened up earlier this year.

One Saturday afternoon, while walking our pints off following a F.X. Matt Brewery tour on Varick Street, I noticed a building with a "Nail Creek Pub & Brewery" sign out front. I keep up on the local beer scene and had never heard of this place and wondered how I had missed out on what could wait behind the front door. After further noting a Dogfish neon in the front window, I told my gf that we had to try this place out sometime - it must be good if they were sporting Dogfish. A couple of weeks later, we stopped in, and, well, lets just say that I was deeply saddened that we were going to be moving out of Utica in two weeks (though only to Syracuse, so it could have been worse).

A warm, homey, friendly feeling establishment with modest real estate. L-shaped bar with room for about 12, three or four tables and some additional seating toward the back near the restrooms. The bar does not accomodate a large number of people, and this is to my liking. A large, flatscreen TV is displayed on the wall near the tables and is usually tuned in to a sporting event. I have never been to a pub in England, but if I were to envision one, this would come very close.

Every time I have been here, all of the staff have been very enthusiastic and happy to accomodate their customers (which occasionally requires a trip down to the cellar to find a particular beer). Fresh bowls of pretzels are commonly offered to accompany the beer, and bartenders can competently discuss beer. Beer selection is out of this world for a bar between Syracuse and Albany - unrivaled really. 12 or so taps have included Dogfish 90 minute and Indian Brown, Sixpoint Brownstone, Stone Arrogant Bastard, Saranac Imperial IPA, Pumpkin, Oktoberfest, Pale, Pommegranate Wheat, Black Forest, and Season's Best, Fuller's ESB, Chatham IPA, Smutty Robust Porter, Utica Club, and Bud Light (more tolerable with the little pink skirt sitting on top of the handle). The bottle list is ever increasing in size. It included about 30 bottles the first time I stopped in, and now boasts around 75 I would guess. Some highlights would include Boon Geuze, Delirium Nocturnum, Orval, Gouden Carolus Cuvee van de Keizer, Chimay, Dogfish Palo Santo Marron, Victory Prima Pils and Hop Devil, Weyerbacher Hops Infusion and Merry Monks, Old Rasputin, and Mojo IPA. No cask ale, but word is they are going to be firing up a small brewery behing the bar next year and offer their house brews at the bar (the 'Brewery' part of the name). Food is not available to the public at this time, but the kitchen should be online soon and their future menu can be viewed on their website.

This has to be at the top of my list of beer bars (and I have been to a good number of them). Maybe it is because it is filling a void that has sadly existed in Utica for a long time, or because if I was going to open a bar this is exactly what I would open, or because they have an incredible selection of beer along with an owner and staff that have a real respect for what they are offering. I cherish every time I travel back to Utica and get a chance to stop in here. I would highly recommend a visit, especially when they get their delicious sounding menu up and running. I only see Nail Creek getting better and better as time goes by.

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Photo of slander
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Strangely, nothing going on in Utica. And I say "Strangely" because it's the home of Matt's and the whole contract hub of upstate, you'd think there'd be a place to drink 'em all, but no. And it's not just Utica; there's really no good beer bar in that whole Northern clip of what they call the Leatherstocking region. I don't know why they call it that, one of Fenimore Cooper's literary offences, no doubt. And then one day there was this Utica entry sitting in the queue...

Oh, it's in a dodgyesque neighborhood with sports & dive bars galore, but they sit clean, polished, shiny & new in a converted house there very nicely redone, you sooo don't want to know the condition they found the place in when they bought it. A small deep "L" shaped oak wood bar lined with gourds, ala Humpty Davo in the hospital, seats about 9 on red leather bar chairs, beneath a wood overhang with sunken spots. Mirrored paneled barback with lots of $1's running their borders, over tiered booze on the counter, glassware rack above and a shelf atop running the length with booze. Bottled selections live below in glass front coolers, but a chosen handful of them sit on the end of the barback counter. Tap selections printed on a large blackboard on the wall down at end of the bar. Cherry wood floors, spinning fans, some dark wood paneled walls, some brick play, and some of neither painted brown, decorated with framed prints & paintings and brewery signage. A small fireplace forward the bar, with dolls and pieces on the hop lined, small glass candle lit mantle, and a painting of a mid torso of a guy wearing a Bad Brains shirt holding a 40 of Miller above. Framed ½ curtained windows up front with flowing velvety treatments. Cool mounted wrought iron lamps in doubles and singles. 3 raised round bar tables and 2 shortys up front along the fireplace and windows, and some more seating around the bend across from the bar sharing some common benchness. Big Buck Hunter hides beyond there to the rear.

12 taps on a hop lined tower on the center of the bar. An interesting mix of very local (Utica Club, Saranac Pale Ale, Octo & Pumpkin), an hour's ride (Ommegang Witte), regional (DogFishHead Indian Brown Ale & 90 Minute IPA, Clipper City Weizen Doppel), regional to people in another region (Stone Arrogant Bastard), another land (Bass, Guinness) and another bad morning (Bud Light). I ordered a DogFishHead Indian Brown and because I live a Charlie Brown life it kicked right then, but they replaced it with Sixpoint Brownstone so I dealt.

76 bottles or so, more than 50 of them American micros, and more than 1/3 of those NY State beers (Brooklyn, Ithaca, Saranac, Blue Point, Keegans, Cooperstown, Browns, Ommegang, Southern Tier, Sackets Harbor, Middle Ages), another 1/3 + regional (Allagash, Harpoon, DogFishHead, Long Trail, Otter Creek, Orlio, Sly Fox, Smutty, Victory, Wachusett, Weyerbacher, Stone Coast), and the rest from middle America and the other coast. The remaining 20 or so non American micros are a mix of a handful of Belgians (Boon Geuze, Duvel, Chimay Red, Lindemans), 4 Germs, 5 English, and macro slightlys. A solid list especially when you consider the availability in distributor no man's land Utica.

I was spotted a-jotting notes and approached, as they thought I was a scene stealin' vibe thief from another local place, but I guess that's how some of the better introductions occur. Owner Chris sat with me for a bit while fiancé co-owner Tracy ran around some. We talked of beer and the bar and events and beer. It's a beer bar now but he plans on brewing small batches out back come January. I commented that Boon Geuze seemed an excellent albeit odd entry in a group of only 5 Belgians and he asked if I'd heard of Orval (Why? Did Orval say something about me?). Apparently, lovely Orval just come in today (and I'm going to have one). I gave beer recommendations or at least told him what I like; some appear to now be here, the beer list gets a little better every time I view it on the website. They have a big book on the bar listing all the beers that different people have drank there. You get your own page and add to it. And we talked about the tap list some. They're in Utica, they've got to keep Utica Club on, and although they encourage people to try new things and broaden their beer horizons, some people come in and just don't want to know about anything but Bud Light, but "Did you see the tap handle?" Looking over there, what, what is that? Chris put an actual pink Barbie skirt on the Bud Light handle, very telling, I'm sure he's making friends with that.

Good crowd this Thursday night, lots of people in Utica drinking craft beer that isn't Saranac and I just heard a guy reference a tomato pie (a local staple, it's a half assed pizza). Off and running well, I'd say that Nail Creek fills that "Nothing going on between Albany and Syracuse" gap nicely. Utica's got a beer bar!

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Nail Creek Pub & Brewery in Utica, NY
Brewery rating: 3.88 out of 5 with 8 ratings