What Makes a Favorite Watering Hole?

You’ll have to excuse the lack of “news” postings around here lately but it’s tough to keep current with beer news when I have limited Internet access and am on the road for “work” in a different town in a different New England state each week. That being said, I found myself in the Three Needs Brewery & Pub in downtown Burlington, Vermont this afternoon with a pint of their Chocolate Thunder Porter (on nitro) in front of me. Before long, I had struck up a conversation with the Three Needs brewer (Jon… Sorry about that; excuse the moment of post-porter haze) and the barkeep (Monique) and had a full-fledged beer conversation going.

The Three Needs beer itself was pretty run of the mill (the Porter was quite interesting but the rest were not much to write home about) but the bar itself was one of the most fun I had been to in awhile. Small & intimate — everyone there seemed to know one another — the pub was decorated in a great eclectic mix of old tin beer signs andSimpsons memorabilia. And I cannot tell you the last time I was at a bar which was blasting They Might Be Giants Flood all the way up to eleven!

So, getting to the point – I know Stonch brought up the same question a couple of months ago (sorry, I couldn’t find the link), but I want to re-invigerate the question, What makes a favorite watering hole: The beer list (be it a brew pub where to beer is made on site) or the atmosphere (where they crank up the TMBG)? Or is it some combination of the two (as was the case with Three Needs)? Discuss (in the comments)!

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2 comments

  1. Hey Luke thanks for stopping by today at Three Needs just wanted to let you know the brewers name is Jon. Feel free to stop by anytime my coffee stout will be out probably next week. Jon

  2. For me, a great bar has a wide selection of beer, wine and other spirits. It needs to have great service and people who really understand what makes each item good. It needs to have above average food so that you can go there and stay for a long period of time if you so choose. The music should be eclectic but not elitist. Also, the volume of the music needs to be loud enough to hear it but soft enough to converse over it easily. They need the ability to serve each beer in its proper glass (not always possible but something to strive for). They need to have a good crowd of social people that are fun to be around whilst having a few pints but it can’t be too crowded as to impede bar service or the ability to move/breathe. The atmosphere of the place should be cool too. I also like it when there are lots of TVs with sporting events on them. Furthermore, when a big game or local game is on the music should be cut off in favor of commentary by the announcers.

    One of the biggest things a bar has to remember is its identity. Some bars try to be one part sports bar, one part brewpub, one part steakhouse, one part dance club etc. and they water down the experience.

    If I want to take my girlfriend to a place with music to dance to I’ll do that. If I want to go to a sports bar I’ll do that. If I want a local brewpub I’ll do that. Don’t try to combine too many things that don’t compliment each other. Each attribute of the bar should compliment the already existing attributes. (Don’t add DJ Krazzypants to a nice low key brewpub; Do add flat screens to a nice brew pub; see what I mean?)

    Does anyone know where this place exists? I’ve been looking for years, and I’ve found a lot of great bars but never as perfect as the ideal I mention above…

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