Set on the most desirable corner of Clematis Street, right by the park and with expansive views of the waterfront, the new American Craft Aleworks Restaurant and Taproom is brewing up recipes for success. Recently opened with an onsite brewery helmed by Erik Miller, the eatery resembles a speakeasy with exposed brick, warm dark woods, big windows and an upstairs lounge.
There is a generous long bar facing the water, several high top tables and picnic style tables for family dining. Booths welcome foursomes, and sports plays on the overhead TVs. The menu features hearty elevated pub style food, with plates to share, salads, sandwiches and large plates too.
Huge glass windows show off the gleaming silver brewing tanks in their own climate controlled room and the comfy second floor lounge with red leather club chairs and plush upholstered sofas is the ideal scenario to enjoy a range of wines and a full cocktail selection focused on Prohibition-inspired drinks.
Food service at the lounge? Sure. Food and beer at the bar? Of course. Tastings of several brews in small glasses? Yup. Lots of options keep the vibe easy and comfortable at the new American Craft Aleworks Restaurant and Taproom.
Ask about the brews and the brewmaster himself will answer. The affable Erik Miller, who moved here from the Northeast in the spring, explains all.
“There are a million ways to brew beer,” he says, “And it’s just four ingredients – barley, hops, yeast and water. The big differences in taste depends on what time you add ingredients during the boil process.”
Miller explained me how their menu gives the clever name of the beers along with the type – lager, sour, fruit beer, IPA, brown ale, etc. and also the ABV (alcohol by volume) and the IBU – International Bittering Unit – the scale used to measure hop bitterness in beer. More hops means more bitterness. Aleworks gets their malt from farms in Minnesota, their hops from the Pacific Northwest area. The highest level of alcohol is in the “Troublemaker” beer at 8.3%, it also has a high IBU of 85. The lowest is in the “Florida Man” with a ABV of 4.7% and a 20 IBU. (Maybe Florida men need to man up?)
Along with the extensive beer selections, there are cocktails and a wine list.
A good reason the belly up to the bar at Aleworks is the food, prepared by Executive Chef Samantha Kittay. Lots of shareable small plates are offered, meant for tables of two or more. The Spicy Beer Glazed Wings with Gochujang Sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds is a hearty serving of 10 wings; the Crabcakes with roasted red pepper marmalade and smoked fingerling potatoes is unexpectedly delicious, spiced and moist and plump with crabmeat. The Iceberg Wedge salad is a large half a head of iceberg lettuce smothered in blue cheese dressing with chopped tomatoes, red onion and crumbled bacon. Refreshing and creamy, it pairs great with spicier starters.
Sandwiches are man-sized – the Smoked Carolina Pulled Pork with house made slaw is tender and juicy, crisp french fries and a thick fresh bun make for a satisfying meal. The Signature Burger has some surprise ingredients – Gruyere and Gorgonzola cheeses, a “secret sauce,” arugula, tomato and onion on a brioche bun. There are also large plates that include a smoked half chicken, whiskey glazed salmon, a five spiced duck and some seared scallops.
“We want to make this a comfortable, welcoming hangout place for everyone,” says owner Rich Simon. “Come watch a game, lunch or dinner before theater, on the weekends to try some new beers.”
Just like the menu says: “Eat – Drink – Chill.”
American Craft Aleworks Restaurant and Taproom