If there is one thing about Connecticut that I could do without, it’s the distance between bars. Unless you head down to Hartford, New Haven, or West Hartford, you’re really setting up shop in one place and sticking it out for the night. Many towns are making an effort to welcome in new restaurants, bars, and breweries, but bridging the gap between these will ease the pain for every thirsty traveler.
That’s why when my brother and I heard about Taprock Beer Bar & Refuge opening in Unionville, we were more than excited. Farmington Valley has a lot going on in terms of retail and restaurants but when it comes to getting a pint of local craft beer, or something that’s lighting it up elsewhere, it’s not easy. Simsbury has done a wonderful job with Millwrights, Plan B, McLadden’s, and Red Stone Pub all practically within walking distance of each other. But once again, it’s all about bridging that gap, and this is where Unionville comes into play.
Located conveniently on South Main Street, Taprock looks to make a splash while rubbing shoulders with nearby mainstays, Cure Restaurant and The Olive Bar. Having three bars so close together means competition, which is great for beer lovers. Don’t forget it was JFK that once said, “a rising tide lifts all boats,” and in this case, those boats are being lifted by a delicious foamy ocean of beer.
We were lucky enough to try out the food and beer offerings during Taprock’s opening week. The menu itself was standard pub fare but something stood out to us right away…the sliders. Shrimp Po Boy, Chicken & Waffle, Classic Beef, and Pulled Pork options were all available and waiting to be tasted. We’ve written about flights of beers, but this flight of sliders was out of control.
Food is the easy part, it’s the beer however, that absorbs the most time and effort. Aside from having some solid craft options outside of CT (Firestone Walker, Maine Beer Co., Stone, Dogfish Head, Cambridge, Six Point, etc.) it’s what they offer in CT that was impressive. Not many places are able to offer Cone Flakes, G-Bot, and Nummy Nummy all at the same time, but Taprock proved they’re coming out swinging.
After a few pints, the food arrived. The Shrimp Po Boy was cooked to perfection and had that Cajun kick, the Pulled Pork was damn good, and the Classic Beef was just that, but the Chicken & Waffle slider was the real MVP. Paired with a West Coast IPA from Powder Hollow Brewery, I was immediately in heaven.
The deep fried chicken was salty and crisp on the outside, while the maple syrup played its role in this southern style ying and yang. The waffle piece buns were fluffy but provided enough stability to keep all its contents in check until the very last bite.
Powder’s West Coast IPA stands out with a pungent kick of tropical fruit and pine on the nose. The golden color is padded with a solid head of foam that quickly dissipated to a thick collar of fluffy goodness. At 7.5% ABV, the West Coast IPA is loaded with hop character and serves as a solid beer to back up any burger or intimidating slider.
Powder Hollow’s owner, Michael McManus has been building the brewery to what it is today for the last three years or so. We visited Power Hollow on just our second trip of this CT brewery tour. We were impressed by the number of taps and comfortable atmosphere, along with the beers we enjoyed that evening. It’s no wonder they’ve been successful, just a few weeks ago Powder Hollow celebrated its two-year anniversary, here’s hoping for many more.
Taprock Beer Bar & Refuge is located at 81 South Main Street in Unionville, CT. Their hours vary throughout the week so check their website (http://taprockbeerbar.com) for more information. As for Powder Hollow, their taproom is open from 3-9 Monday-Thursday, 3-10 on Friday, 12-10 Saturday, and 12-7 Sunday.
About The Brothers’ Guide: Created by two brothers who love beer. Connecticut’s craft beer scene has exploded over the past few years, but not much has been documented. That’s how the idea for A Brothers’ Guide came to fruition. Separating themselves from pretentious craft beer critiques, the mission is to simply provide the reader with an honest, straight forward opinion of the overall brewery experience. From profiles on specific beers, guides to each brewery, and rankings of beers and taprooms, this is the top destination for Connecticut’s craft beer scene coverage.