City Steam Brewery Café

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City Steam Brewery CaféCity Steam Brewery Café
Very Good
817 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 slander
4.05/5  rDev +6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Lunch with the BA's in Hartford. I ain't been here since I don't know when, maybe Zappa at the Bushnell, Floyd at the Civic Center, something, some time ago...
City Steam is out on the strip in a century old building, an old steam powered department store. Crazily spacious, nooks and turns and bends this way and that. Straight to the back, a party room with 8 pool tables and a small bar, jukebox, TV's, benches, tables and couches set about. Nice cast iron railings, marble pieces and French revue posters throughout. There's a perch with a few chairs and couches overlooking this room, accessible only from a flight of stairs around the side towards the front and nearby, a stairwell to the basement comedy club room. Couches and tables in the front room, wrapped around the main staircase that leads up, a table here, a table there, and splits to the left and right, and up again, large arch windows and stained glass, twists and small dining rooms with tables in all corners. And finally back downstairs in the bar area, a handful of round and rectangular tables and a strange semicircle table in a curved outcove that seats about a dozen. Hardwood floors, exposed duct piping, yellow walls, purple ceiling and columns and trim. A strange mural over there in the corner and old Connecticut brewerania (Hull's, New Haven), vintage beer and cigarette ads, and City Steam beer plackards everywhere.
The copper and wood striped "Z" shaped bar seats about a dozen and a half. Fermenters are visible in the front window and behind the bar, and they've got a pull handle for a loud ass steam whistle. WWWHHHOOO!!!
A dozen taps, 9 house beers (Light Lager, Pale Ale, Steam Ale, Atkins Ale, Export, Porter, Wit, Triple, Double IPA), a cider and 2 sodas (root beer and birch beer). I drank the porter ('cause that's what I do) and then the IPA, crisp and nicely hoppy. Beers were good and clean. Had a bowl of the most ungumbolike gumbo in existence, not bad, just ungumbolike, and a solid roast beef wrap. Service was okay, nothing crazy, and I'm not holding a grudge about the growler incident... Someone managerish approaching, saying, "Can I ask you what's in that growler?" and me responding, "No". Fact of the matter is that I walked in with a 2 litre growler of the Heavyweight Black Ocean (thanx, Tom) to share with my frenz. While I didn't covertly smuggle the thing in under my coat, I also wasn't quite brandishing the thing in the air like the whole King Arthur growler-in-the-stone Excaliber myth. It was somewhere in between. Anyway, they bagged me as we were more than halfway through it. Some old blue law still on the books regarding the bringing of good NJ beers onto premises or something. Says she, "I'm going to have to ask you to pour that out". Says me, "I'm sorry, but that just ain't happening". We compromised with "quickly downing" what we had poured and me parking the partially filled growler out in Evil's clown car. Like I said, I'm not holding a grudge, they were just doin' their job, I just thought it was good comedy and worth noting.
Many of the other reviews for City Steam bark about the scene there. It was all good. We had no problems on this dead Sunday afternoon...

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Photo of Billolick
4.05/5  rDev +6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Very easy on and off the highway to find this place. Multi levels, multiple stuff going on, pool tables, comedy club,lots of flat screens showing sports, lots of patrons having a good time, lots of tasty stuff on the menu, and also lots of pub brewed choices for beer. We went for a bite and a brew on a friday night, they had a duo playing some so so soft classic rock kind of stuff (fairly cheesy and too loud, but easy to get away from cuz, this place is so big and has so many differant areas to go hang out in.) Our waiter was friendly and prompt. Beer sampled (Dexter Gordon, IPA, brown ale) seemed fresh and were tasty, if not amazing. Crowd seemed on the younger side, this is a college town to a certain extent. Fun place, interesting building, worth a visit if in town or just passing through (DONT DRINK AND DRIVE)

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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 woodychandler
3.94/5  rDev +3.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Since this place was located just a few blocks from the Transportation center, I disembarked from the bus and headed straight over.

The brewhouse sat in a window to the left of the awninged entrance. They had a small, triangular vestibule, followed by the bar to the immediate left. The long, wood bar was an interesting zigzag shape and both the brewhouse as well as several fermenters were in plain view while I was seated at the bar.

Their logos seemed to have been inspired by the Art Deco period of the 1920's and reminded me of the Cap City logos, especially "Twin Peaks", which depicted a buxom lass hoisting a tray containing a glass of Pilsner and "The Naughty Nurse", who seemed just naughty enough. As to this last one, I spoke to a fellow patron dressed in a business suit and he told me that not only was I on the right track, but also that I should try The Naughty Nurse if I liked IPAs. Wow! Do I like IPAs? is a bear Catholic? Does the Pope take a crap in the woods?

Beers: I began with a very eclectic sampler of five - "White Rabbit" - an unfiltered Wit; "Careless Love" - a Biere de Garde; "City Steam Export" - a blonde Lager; "Brown Sugar" - a Jamaican-style sweet Stout made with over eighty (80) pounds of ... yep, you guessed it, brown sugar; and "Old Wethersfield" - an unfiltered IPA. I was also intrigued by "Green Eyes and Red Hair" - a Scottish-style ale, but not enough to have it as part of my initial sampler.

Back to the decor: lots of vintage breweriana, especially for Hull's Export Beer, but also running the gamut from liqueurs to beer to actual liquor. Also, in the passageway between the bar and the restaurant area was a carousel horse that seemed to have lost its way.

Speaking of losing one's way, this space used to be the former Brown, Thompson and Company department store, so the term "expansive" definitely applied. Headed aft from the entry, the m.d.s. was actually past the bar, near a separate entrance onto the rest of the building. All of the way aft, on the first floor, was the Billiards Room with five pool tables, its own bar and a foosball table. Off to the right was a separate party room with a heavy curtain to separate its patrons from the rest of the place. Off to the extreme right was a a patio area.

Upstairs, I was put in mind of M. C. Escher, due to its numerous stairways, archways, landings, and passageways. It was only on three floors, but it seemed like more due to its design. I also took note of at least one intimate snug.

Finally, downstairs, they had a Comedy Club capable of holding up to two hundred (200) people.

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Photo of LXIXME
3.81/5  rDev -0.3%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 3.75

Photo of WillieThreebiers
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of Rifugium
3.59/5  rDev -6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.25 | food: 3.75

I was in Hartford to see a show actually, at Webster Theater, so not finding many local options, I picked this, the only brewpub in the city, which was only a couple miles away. It was a pretty interesting place, with a somewhat vintage Americana / pre-Prohibition theme going on. The crowd was pretty bustling, but the staff seemed on the ball at all times.

For whatever reason, I didn't go with my usual sampler flight option, and just chose a couple quick drinks instead. The beer was all pretty basic stuff, with options ranging from wheat beers to simple pale ales. The could've been a Belgian ale and/or a porter on too, I don't really remember.

The menu was fairly extensive, with options ranging from general pub grub, to salads and sandwiches, to pricier entrees. Good stuff, no complaints here. Prices on food and beer were pretty much middle of the road, again, with some of the higher-end food selections getting more expensive.

Beggars can't be choosers in Hartford, it seems. This was not a bad place, considering there didn't seem to be many (or any) other options in town, at least none that I know of.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.61/5  rDev -5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4

The place had little to no parking around. Ended up with a ticket for poor signage on where to park and for how long. Anyway, The service here was good, the place is nice, kinda old looking. The selection is pretty vast but nothing really mind blowing either. The place is decent but probably not a place I'd rush back to any time soon.

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Photo of jjboesen
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%

Located in downtown within the confines of a beautiful Romanesque building that was once a department store, City Steam Brewery Café is the only brewpub in Hartford. The venue sprawls through several floors and includes a patio and a pool room; this review is based on two recent visits to the main floor bar area. The bar is rather large, seating around 50 people with room among a scattering of high tops in which thirsty Hartford office workers can mingle and discuss insurance, no doubt. (Hartford is America's insurance capital.)

The beer selection is decent and runs the gamut of styles; my choices: Acapulco Gold, a session IPA; Blonde on Blonde, an American Pale Ale; Sneak Peek, an amber lager; Pugnacious Porter, an oatmeal stout and the favorite being something called Naughty Nurse, which appears to be an English bitter. Extensive food menu that includes all-day omelets and some attentive servers makes this a popular place to imbibe. They offer a Mon-Fri Happy Hour, when beers are $2.00 off.

All in all, an enjoyable place to quaff fresh beer when in the Nutmeg State.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

This brewpub was a nice little surprise on a recent overnight trip to Hartford for a Pearl Jam concert. It was attached to the hotel I was staying at to make it very convenient too.

The place was packed given that I was there on a Saturday afternoon along with a lot of other out-of-towners who were there for the show that night. We couldn't get a table to try the food but managed to squeeze out way to the bar to get a couple of pints each. I tried their IPA and their Summer Stout. The Summer Stout was a very nice American Stout and IPA was a weak example of the style IMO. Others I was with tried the porter, pilsener and others and had mixed reviews.

The service was great considering how packed the place was.

This was a neat little brewpub. I would definitely go back here if my travels ever bring me back to Hartford.

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Photo of francisweizen
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I went here before heading home from a nice Vermont trip (Burlington and Brattleboro areas). Anyways, this made for a nice place to go as part of my 3 hour-or-so layover on the bus on my way en route to NYC. Atmsophere was a bit cookie-cutter brewpub with a wooden bar and some dangling ceiling signs with their beer labels on them. Sports were on the several TVs located in the bar. Quality of the beers I had were good. I tried the white and the IPA and they were both pretty darn good. The selection was good as well with 10 or so beers on tap and the burger I had was super cheap ($5 for a pint and a burger) and damn good as well. A nice enough place to spend some time. Solid food and beer, good prices. Nothing amazing, but definately worthwhile...

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Photo of Slatetank
4.16/5  rDev +8.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I was in Hartford for a hot minute - just stopped here for a pint with friends - thought I would give a quick beerfly

Atmosphere was pretty dead while we were there around lunch on a weekday. There were a couple others there, but pretty quiet w/ a small bar area and all the beers displayed that were on tap. They have some cool art deco posters and nice beer ads/comics in the bathroom.

Quality - everything was served fresh and in the appropriate glassware I couldn't really complain as we were treated well

The service was simple basic and up to standard, without really going out of the way- pleasant and friendly.

The Selection is good I was pleased to find a Biere de Garde on and the Pale - Acapulco Gold was as hoppy as some IPA's -with a nice west coast taste. They had a schwarzbier and an unfiltered IPA on as well as a brown ale, wheat and light lager, but not over the top selection was -just a nice variety of solid brews

I would have ordered some food if we hadn't already had lunch at Willimantic, I can't comment on this, but menu looked good

The value is decent, picked up some glassware and had a pint for a quick stop, I would probably return if in Hartford again.

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Photo of mltobin
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

I finally had the opportunity to try City Steam after a day of a work meeting in a nearby hotel.
The atmosphere is big to begin with, with a bar to the left, a bar to the right, a small patio overlooking a one way street, and then stairs going up, leading to more seating and drinking !
Quality of their beers is good, better than some other brewpubs in CT. Service was very good, staff was familiar with their beers and friendly with the patrons. Selection was above average, I enjoyed the farmhouse ale and the wit bier. No guest beers here, but they have a good spectrum of styles. Food is typical bar fare, will satisfy your hunger. All of this comes with a reasonable value, and thus is worth checking out if you find yourself in Hartford or passing through and thirsty.

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Photo of spycow
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of socon67
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Went here with some friends. The place is more restaurant than beer place, but has a decent vibe. The wait staff know enough about the beer made on premesis to answer questions, and they do have a good amount of selections. I tried the Naughty Nurse and their Belgian Double. Both were solidly good beers. The "guest beers" appear to be the generic stuff. Food was good and better than most brew pubs. Trying a few beers can get a little pricey, but nothing too outrageous. I'd come back on a weeknight to see if the crowd is different.

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Photo of grahuba
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Photo of ecoboy
3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

I noticed VENOM has reviewed this elsewhere with a caveat about "down times." Amen. This is seriously one of the coolest buildings architecturally in which to house a brewpub. All kinds of levels and nooks and crannies to get lost or loud in. I have walked up through all the levels every time I've visited, just to get the true feeling of the place (and to get to the washroom.)

But, having been on weekend nights only, I must report that the place can have an obnoxious vibe. I said "can." You may love it. My very first visit, the doorman told me that I couldn't wear my Burger King Rugrats watch in. He was actually kind of serious. The cover band is playing Jimmy frigging Buffet and I can't wear a goofy plastic watch? I have really disliked the music when I've gone, sloppy beery classic rock and college music played to a really appreciative (read: kinda tipsy) batch of patrons. I look forward to enjoying the beer when the place has a more ruminative vibe. It will probably add atmosphere points.

The food has been really good, and as a traveller from four hours away, I really appreciate that the kitchen is open on weekends until 12:30 a.m. Also worth noting is that the brewery is relatively close to downtown hotels, so when staying in Hartford, it's usually an easy walk for good beer (Naughty Nurse and Fallen Angel come recommended.) Just plan to love it loud if there's music going on.

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Photo of plaid75
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Located on Maint Street in Hartford, not far from 84.

Upon entering, the bar and bar seating is around the corner and to the left, while large dining area is to the right.

The bar area was well apointed, with large wooden tables and chairs and nice table settings. The bar was essentially L shaped and sat about 20 patrons. From the bar, the large copper brewing vessels and mash tuns are visible. My favorite touch was a beer engine constructed from steam pipes and fittings. There were several flat screen televisions, including one that had to have been 100 inches.

There were about 7 house beers on tap, along with a commercial cider.

At the back of the building was a second bar, additional lounge seating, billiards tables and a balcony seating area.

The food was so so.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.91/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.5

I stopped in here last week while on vacation with the family. This brewpub sits in and old brick building just dripping with history in a downtown section of Hartford. Old dark wood and Victorian accents adorn the 2 floors of restaurant space amid the huge windows that look to the city. 12 or so homemade brews adorn the menu along with the standard course of pub grub. A Monday night was surprisingly active but the service was steady and attentive. I sampled several beers that ranged from mediocre to great but was pleasantly surprised by the quality overall. The food was decent and the pricing was on par with what I expected to pay. I'd revisit if in the area. again.

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Photo of Suds
3.99/5  rDev +4.5%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 3.75

During a recent family excursion to Hartford, we visited this brewpub. Located in a beautiful old building, right in the center of town, this is a very inviting brewpub. The architecture, design, decoration, and general feel of the place is amazing. Beer memorabilia and great ambiance are everywhere. The beer selection was deep and varied. I had the Amber, the IPA, and the Stout. All were excellent. The service was professional and light-hearted, and would be worthy of a higher rating other than being a little slow. Food was mostly traditional, although upscale, tavern food. Well made but not really creative. All in all, this is a great brewpub and absolutely worth a visit.

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Photo of hoppymcgee
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of NJBeer265
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Photo of tkdchampxi
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75

Not a bad place to have a drink in Hartfood. I went here after a wedding, so I didn't have any food,

Beers are pretty typical of a small city microbrew.

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Photo of mkyer
4/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Photo of jzeilinger
3.64/5  rDev -4.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75

Located in downtown Hartford so you will be parking either on the street or in a garage. No biggie.

The architecture and vibe are quite cool because of the history. We were there on a late Monday afternoon and it was barely busy as there's a ton of space in this facility. (17) taps total and only their own brews and doing a flight each between three of us, all were average at best. We didn't have food since we were passing through so 'can't speak for that side.

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City Steam Brewery Café in Hartford, CT
Brewery rating: 3.77 out of 5 with 817 ratings