World of Beer officially opens to the public on Monday, Jan. 26, but we got a sneak peek on Friday afternoon.
By Ronni Newton
Get your beer here.
There are more beers on tap than there are states in the U.S., and more bottles than there are countries in the world.
Visitors to West Hartford’s new World of Beer, which opens at 73 Isham Rd. in Blue Back Square at 11 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 26, can expect to find an unprecendented assortment of beers from more than 100 countries as well as tavern fare to complement the brews.
The tavern fare includes a giant Bavarian pretzel. It weighs about a pound.
It would take quite a long time to sample all of the beers that World of Beer has in stock. There are more than 50 on tap – and those selections are rotated on a daily basis. There are also 525 different bottled beers. The offerings are from 110 different countries.
There are also many local beers, with between 50 and 60 from Connecticut breweries.
“We pride ourselves on exposure for small market brews,” said World of Beer General Manager Matt Sousa. They’re working with, rather than competing with, area breweries.
“We met with [Hartford-based] City Steam brewmaster Ron Page, and he brewed us a beer that won’t be served anywhere else,” Sousa said. That beer is called “Mr. Page’s Private Reserve.”
Two Roads Brewing Company (Stratford) has also prepared special beer just for World of Beer. “They have provided a cask for us to serve on tap, exclusive to us,” Sousa said.
Also unique and exclusive to World of Beer is an “infusion tower.” Fruit, cocoa beans, and other items can be infused directly into the beer.
In addition to the German-beer-garden-worthy pretzel, World of Beer’s tavern fare ranges from wings, to beer cheese-topped tater tots, to flatbread pizzas, to sliders, to salads, to soups, to burgers. There are Guinness brat sliders on pretzel rolls. There’s a Chimay burger that’s made with Chimay Classique cheese – a beer cheese that is only available if imported directly from a Trappist monastary.
The menu includes a beer recommendation with each food item.
In addition to lunch and dinner, World of Beer serves “BEERunch” on Sundays from 11 a.m. through 3 p.m. While you may not want to drink a beer with your waffles, beer still plays a part in many traditional breakfast items. Those waffles are infused with Belgian ale. The chicken for the chicken and waffle sandwich (yes, they serve a chicken and waffle sandwich!) is beer brined.
And if you visit World of Beer but you don’t want beer, they also offer wine, a full bar, and soft drinks. Homemade bloodies are on the “beerunch” menu.
While you are enjoying the food and drink, you can catch the latest game on one of 24 TVs. “We have every sports package,” Sousa said. In the warmer weather the giant “garage doors” will be open and the front of the restaurant will expand out onto the sidewalk area for patio seating.
There will also be live music on Friday and Saturday nights as well as holidays. Most are duos and trios, a lot of acoustic music, Sousa said. There are already a number of performers on the schedule, which can be found on World of Beer’s website.
“We’re excited to be part of the community. We want people to understand that this is a restaurant as well as a tavern. Our goal is to bring people to the area, and make people happy,” Sousa said. They are also looking to give back to the community, and are hosting a pre-opening private event that is a Habitat for Humanity fundraiser on Sunday.
Although World of Beer is family-friendly and offers a full food menu, after 9 p.m. you must be over 21 to enter.
World of Beer will employ approximately 75 people, including servers, bartenders, and kitchen workers. According to a news release, their “WOB Stars” have received 30 hours of special training “to guide guests to a beer selection that suits their particular style and taste.”
Sousa, who is from Manchester, said that World of Beer is very excited about the West Hartford market. He previously worked in the Stamford tavern – the company’s only other location in Connecticut, but said that West Hartford has a different, more comfortable feel.
It has taken about five months to get the space, the former site of National Jean Company, ready for the grand opening. “This was just a skeleton,” Sousa said. The space has a rustic feel, with walls decorated with custom-made “tin tackards” bearing the logos of breweries. The bar itself, with the 50-plus taps, sets the mood as well.
World of Beer officially opens to the public with a ribbon-cutting at 11 a.m., on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. For more information, visit their website.
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