City Steam Brewery Café

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City Steam Brewery CaféCity Steam Brewery Café
Very Good
815 Ratings
City Steam Brewery CaféCity Steam Brewery Café

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

942 Main St
Hartford, Connecticut, 06103-1214
United States

(860) 525-1600 | map

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Ratings: 120 |  Reviews: 74
Photo of chippo33
1.5/5  rDev -60.7%

Photo of Enriquehopnog
1.79/5  rDev -53.1%
vibe: 1 | quality: 1 | service: 2.75 | selection: 2 | food: 2

This place is awful. The beer here seems like it was brewed out of someone's garage and they yeast wasn’t controlled at proper temperatures and is always infected. I honestly hate to say but I will say it....A bud light as uncomplicated as it is was better than any of these beers. The place was filthy. The tables and bar are never wiped down and in the late spring and summer months you will see tons of flies. This cannot be good around fermenters. This could also be the reason there beer has an awful after taste. I have tried quite a few of these beers because my friend is obsessed with City Steam. I feel he has no idea what quality is and I believe the crowd truly comes back because of the convenience of job location and the bar.

I highly recommend if you have a passion for quality beer to try another place. There are a number of brew pubs and breweries I can highly recommend. I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to City Steam as I will emphasize that all the beer tastes infected

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Photo of donkeyrunner
2.33/5  rDev -39%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 1.5 | selection: 2 | food: 2.5

Visited after checking out the Xmas lights downtown.

Supposedly the City Steam building is a former department store that represents the best example of Romanesque architecture in America. With the Xmas decorations and retro beer art everywhere it looks like a combination of Friday's or Appleby's and the toy store from Home Alone 2.

We came for an a beer at the bar but the bar was so crowded we elected for drinks and dessert at a table. We were ID'd once we entered the door and then again by the waitress who said she didn't trust anyone to check IDs for her. My girlfriend was not happy and the ensuing tension between her and the server carried out through the night. Once our server discovered we were only there for dessert and drinks she pretty much shut down and ignored us. It took 30 minutes and several requests to get a glass of water. The server wasn't familiar with the beer list and described it by listing the things that they didn't have. An extra .5 service points for a courteous and friendly bus boy that was the highlight of this place.

For a brewery cafe City Steam doesn't have a lot of beer. It's mainly a restaurant. They had an pale ale, amber ale, golden lager and saison on tap. Not that exciting. The beer itself wasn't anything special and a peanut butter ganache thing was off but my GFs chocolate martini was pretty good.

In retrospect I wish we had gone someplace else but I guess you never know until you try. Been there, done that.

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Photo of mnrider
2.6/5  rDev -31.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 1.5 | service: 4 | selection: 2 | food: 3

I went to this place on a Sunday afternoon. It was dead, but i could tell it's a cool place to hangout at nights. There is a lot of room at the bar and even another bar in the back with a few pool tables. The food was good and the service was actually very good. However, that is it for the good things. The beer was very forgettable, and i tried pretty much all of them. I think they need to start all over and try again. The brewmaster even mixes two different beers to make another. Why? Don't think i'll be going back anytime soon.

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Photo of betterthanyourbeer
2.64/5  rDev -30.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2.75 | service: 3 | selection: 2.25 | food: 2

Should this really even be called a brewery...they've had the same stale tasteless beers on tap for 10 years. Food is all fried and tastes the same. i think they have taken pride in the fact that since inception....they have NEVER had a good IPA.
ok to try, but regular visits are not happening.

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Photo of Bjorn2bWild
3/5  rDev -21.5%

Photo of packetknife
3/5  rDev -21.5%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

I usually only go to the City Steam for the comedy club in the basement, however I have gone there on other occasions and I don't really recommend it. The high(er) point to the place is the relatively good food given its peers in the area.

Of the beers I favor the Naughty Nurse and their seasonal Porter. Their porter and stout seem a bit watery each time I have them and never are poured with a head. They had a kick-arse IPA once that was by far the best beer I had there but it wasn't available any other time I went.

I'd say you've got a 50% chance of hitting it on a 4.0 night and the other 50% on a 2.0 night. Service is rarely good in my experience with waitstaff that seem really interested in having you leave.

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Photo of BeerMeSteve
3/5  rDev -21.5%

Photo of coljesep
3.1/5  rDev -18.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 2 | food: 4

Photo of spydo99
3.2/5  rDev -16.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

I don't go to Hartford as much as I used to. But when I do, City Steam is 1 of 4 stops I try to make. I would say when I am in Hartford, I stop in for at least a pint 9 out of 10 visits to the city.

The resteraunt is very "Unique" - I want to say 5 levels. Food is average - another place you go to drink and eating is an afterthought.

The comedy club is well worth the visit - you can catch a suprise act from time to time.

The beer all have names and have a regular rotation, colt, naughty nurse, etc. I try to go when I know they will have either the Jamaican Stout or the "Russian" Imperial Stout. Have not yet hat the PV Porter dedicated to the life and times of a former local PV O'Donnell. (Gonna miss the Fiddle)

They do a nice presentation on the "yard" of beer. Designed to serve the table.

All in all worth a visit for a pint or two.


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Photo of Rastacouere
3.2/5  rDev -16.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

Atmosphere: Huge multi-faceted establishment with 2 floors, cinema screens showing sports game. Pool section at the end, nice wooden display, very familial restaurant feel, but there was not more than 15 people in all that space (capacity of maybe.. 300?) on a sunday afternoon. A few original concepts like their tall cylinder pitchers etc. Staff was very friendly if not too geared toward beer. 10 or so taps available which would make it a pretty decent selection if there was not 2 lights, one mild, one commercial cider etc, but still they boast a baltic porter, old ale, one hop ipa and such specialties. Unfortuntely, the beer there really didn't impress me, I tried 10 of their taps and I'd only qualify worth it 2 of those, the ipa and old ale. I was particularly let down with the dry stout, baltic porter and dortmunder. Their house yeast, which I assume is used for all their beers just as a not too clean character that comes out a bit husky/lactic and the bodies are lacking. I had one of their burger which was not awesome, but good if greasy. The people that were with me didn't enjoy theirs very much though.. Overall, I was expecting much more and what's with Hartford being almost empty on that sunday despite this huge buildings neighborhood?

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Photo of MrDanno96
3.23/5  rDev -15.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

I visited twice this past weekend while in Hartford for some a fraternity leadership conference. On Friday night I went with one friend for a late dinner and had a poor experience. The food was fair at best - both the wings and pizza we got were uninspired. Worse still was that all four of the beers we got between the two of us weren't that great - they all had a really funky aftertaste to them (we got the Black Silk Stout, Carpenters IPA, and Naughty Nurse). Oddly enough, each brew at the same funky after taste, causing me to wonder if perhaps it was coming from their beer lines. Our waitress was also a bit on the slow side, though she also seemed to be serving just about every seated table (which I thought was silly because I saw at least two other servers doing almost nothing while she was serving about 8 tables). To make a longer story short, the first trip was disappointing.

The following evening I visited again, this time with a larger group (10ish) of people. This time around was much better. This visit was much more social and as a result we were ordering mostly pitchers of the amber ale and light lager. Neither of these brews had a funk aftertaste to them - the amber was decent and the light lager was a nice drinking light beer. In regard to the atmosphere, this place is giant: two floors of dining space, a fair sized bar area (which proudly displays brewing equipment) and a comedy club in the basement. There's also a small pool hall in the back of the main floor which me and my buddies took full advantage of.

Overall, I liked City Steam a lot as a social hang out spot. My Friday experience leads me to question their quality control just a bit and I'm not sure if I would go here just for dinner and a beer. Definitely check this place out the next time you're in Hartford, but don't set your expectations for the beer and food too high. They also closed at 1:15 AM on Saturday night. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with Connecticut laws I'm unfamiliar with but it seemed way too early to be closing on a Saturday. They would have easily made $100+ more on just my group of friends alone if they hadn't closed down so early.

 2,173 characters

Photo of SuomiHobbit
3.25/5  rDev -14.9%

Photo of dogfishlove120
3.3/5  rDev -13.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3

City steam offers a decent array of brews all displayed with their units Plato rather than ABV(you have too calculate it yourself). The brews are decent, but nothing too write home about. City steam does however ofer a comedy club called brew ha ha but I have yet too go. The staff is very friendly here and the food is decent. If you live more than a half an hour away, I really wouldn't bother, but if you are in the hartford area it is worth checking it out. None of there beers are terrible, yet in my opinion none of them exceed the quality of other local brewers such as cambridge house are willi brew

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Photo of chuckd123
3.33/5  rDev -12.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

I live in Hartford and lament the fact that this is the only brewery within walking distance. I've literally tried just about all of their beers and cannot find one that i like, nor can I find one that represents its style well. There is a grainy taste to just about all of them, and a generic thinness to them as well. Sort of tinny I guess.

Service hasn't been particularly good during my visits either, but not terrible. Seems like only a few of the bartenders or waitresses are particularly knowledgable about beer as well.

This is not a terrible place, maybe my standards are just too high.

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Photo of Sammy
3.34/5  rDev -12.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3

A nice bar downtown. You can find parkig fairly close. Busy,but a small city crowd with a little fiendliness. it was pre-Tom Petty concert. A working guy's place, the several tables and the generous sized bar were all taken. The beer was nothing too special, the macros were the guest beers. Heavier drinking bar, cocktails and the like. Service was good considering the activity. Worth a stop if and only if you are in the downtown core. A restaurant more than a beer bar, and not somewhere I need to revisit.

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Photo of Darren53
3.43/5  rDev -10.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4

Photo of jbhollis1180
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Photo of NJBeer265
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Photo of Casterbridge
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Photo of KevinDanger23
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Photo of swierczt
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Photo of Junichi
3.51/5  rDev -8.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.25 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.75

Photo of MaxBrews
3.56/5  rDev -6.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

City Steam is the most central Brewpub in the metro Hartford area and perhaps one of the better watering holes in Downtown Hartford. Beer rotates and can range from average to fantastic.

Located in a beautiful historic building that also houses the downtown Residence Inn. Gorgeous from the outside and spacious in the inside. The wooden floors and walls are nice, but a bit worn in the bar area. The entire space is large with vast ceilings and consists of three levels; Basement: Comedy Club Level 1: Bar, restaurant and pool table room, Level 2: More dining space.

The times I've been there I've headed straight to the bar, which is large and behind it is the brewing equipment. Nice stainless steel and copper facing the street side windows. Above the bar are paper signs identifying what beer is on tap.

On tap this time were a IPA, double IPA, oatmeal Stout, Export lager, light lager ($4.75 for the girl or girly whose been dragged away from their 30 rack of Coors light), amber ale, dark ale, wheat beer and some beer with spices. The beers are given lame names like White Rabbit (a witbier), Black Silk (stout), and Naughty Nurre (amber ale). Really City Steam? You could try a bit harder.

Strangely on the beer signage, no ABV levels are given, but rather the degrees Plato of the original gravity is displayed. Little value to most patrons as it tells them nothing about the beer.

The beers I tried over two visits were, their standard IPA (Acapulco Gold), DIPA (Carpenter's Ale), Export Lager and Oatmeal Stout (Black Silk). Though I didn't take the time to properly review them I can say they have their IPAs down and the DIPA is growler worthy. Everything else is average at best and its great to drink and try local beer, but I'd rather spend my money, and it is expensive at $4.75 a beer, on a craft at a beer bar.

I wouldn't expect the bar tenders to know much about the beer and they do pressure you for another. I've only been there on Friday nights and it's crowded with "young professionals" and I say that lightly as its more of a frat and club boy type crowd ranging from 23-35 years old. Most patrons are loud and rarely order beer, which I think, is very odd for a brewpub. Music is loud and hard to stomach the 90s hits. Any other night or during the day I think it'd be a lovely place.

Not a comedy fan, but still would be interested to see what that's all about downstairs. I didn't try the food either, but overall a nice place to sit down and have a locally brewed beer. Not the best brewpub in CT, I'd give that title to Willamantic Brewing Co., but if you're near or in downtown Hartford come and give it a try. I'll be back if they have anymore big beers.

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Photo of FourBetter
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

Absolutely amazing space. A historic building with multiple levels and hidden nooks.
Service is friendly and food is solid pub fare.
18 taps to choose from - decent variety, but would've like to have seen at least one sour or something challenging.
Overall, worth a stop if you're in Hartford.

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City Steam Brewery Café in Hartford, CT
Brewery rating: 3.77 out of 5 with 815 ratings