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Active Beers: 22
Beer Ratings: 1,045
Beer Avg: 3.68
Taps: - / Bottles: -
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
$ - inexpensive
[ Brewery, Bar ]
90 Elliot St
phone: (802) 254-2553
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Reviews by cracker:
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $
Say what you want about this place but the bottom line it is a local hangout which has a strong, devoted following. It may not be the cleanest or most modern locale, but it certainly has an unique charm to it.
We entered the place on a Friday afternoon shortly after opening at 2PM. We were pretty much the only ones there at the time but by the time we left there were about a dozen or so people (mostly locals). Immediately entering, it smells of spent grains (you homebrewers know what I mean). There is a main bar with available beers written on a chalkboard. Behind were about four or so large German style drinking tables. In the corner was a dartboard and another table with various magazines, papers, and random books (including a 1975 National Geographic!).
On tap were three cask beers (Duck's Breath, ESB, Dead Horse IPA) and around 8 drafts. For three bucks a pint, you can't really go wrong. The Dead Horse was lacking a bit in hop aroma but the remaining drafts I tried were fresh, served at appropriate temps and very satisfying (Ruby Red, Old Ringworm). Service was fantastic despite some previous reviews stating that 'tourists' are given the cold sholder. The music was cool too (playing everything from ska-ish electronic to blue grass).
If you're in the southern VT area, stop through Brattleboro and hit McNeils (remember that most days it doesn't open until 4PM though, 2PM on Friday and Saturday if I remember correctly) for an off the beaten track brewpub.
10-09-2005 02:18:40 |
More by cracker
More User Reviews:
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$
October 2009 review (see below for update):
I was a bit apprehensive about visiting McNeill's after reading a few earlier (negative) reviews on BA, but my fears were quickly allayed after taking a seat at the bar. This is a great little brewpub, resplendent in rustic Vermont charm. Yes, the building needs some love (the bathrooms, in particular, are showing their age), but the staff is friendly and the beer is very good.
Don't come here looking for a shiny, flashy new brewpub, come for the beer, and don't shy away from talking to your neighbor. We ended up, by chance, talking with owner/brewer Ray McNeill, a personable and friendly guy. He's a bit of a character, but has a lot of local knowledge (and beer knowledge... and bicycle geekery). He told us a bit about the bar and gave us some solid recommendations for dinner in Brattleboro.
We enjoyed the McNeill's Champ Ale (pale ale), Ruby Ale, Dead Horse IPA, Kolsch, and "My New Invention" (hoppy IPA, brewed w/organic ingredients). All were very solid beers. The only downer of the visit was that they weren't serving any cask beers (despite a beautiful array of cask engines at the bar). The bartender told us that they haven't had cask running for six months or more (not sure why that is). Despite the lack of cask, we left satisfied, and happy to have visited this Brattleboro institution.
August 2012 review:
I visited McNeill's again over the weekend and continue to enjoy this beautifully unique brewpub. It's even better now. Highlights from our 2012 visit:
--The place has been thoroughly cleaned and significantly fixed up since our previous visit. Fresh paint (inside and out), redone bathrooms, and spruced up decor. Looks great!
--Beer selection was stellar. Three beers on cask(!) and I think about 8 other beers on draft. Something for everyone.
--Service was prompt, friendly, and informative.
--Food: We had the cheese plate, which was basic but delicious (2-year aged Cheddar, from the local cheesemaker).
--Atmosphere: Just a classic Vermont experience. We ended up talking with one of the artists who has some artwork hanging on the brewpub walls. Friendly local fellow who is doing his utmost to "Keep Vermont Weird," as the bumper stickers say. Another memorable visit, and we'll be back.
08-20-2012 15:22:05 |
More by huuvola
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 2 | $$
I am forced to rate this place high because it was a yearly after camping stop for a long time. Very simple, small and unimpressive at a first glance, McNeill's can surprise you if you just give it the chance. Every year there would be a beer on their list that was just out of place rare. This would of course be the one that my father bought each time because it was always a treat to find something out of the ordinary at such an ordinary looking place. The food consists mostly of homemade mom sandwiches and chips with salsa, but hey, who goes to a bar to eat. If your walking by it's worth going in and looking at the menu, having a few and playing a round of darts with friends.
12-10-2011 02:29:50 |
More by sespourteille
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $
A one room pub with a smallish bar and four long tables for the public drinkers. This night they had one cask ale and eight drafts flowing and all seemed to be in good order despite the previous reviews that warn of off nights. I sampled or ordered most everything and all was good. The bartender was completely knowledgeable and a friendly guy who was quick to offer samples where there was any interest. The clientele was pretty much as advertized, but entirely a positive. Plenty of character and easy to join any conversation from what I experienced. Apparently the owner/brewmaster, Pat, is currently in very poor health and I was impressed to hear how sincerely the locals were concerned about Pat’s condition and also for the very future of what seems to be a largely beloved institution. The place is obviously an integral part of this community and provides some sort of vital function to this little hub of south-eastern Vermont. The beer was all good to very good. Apparently the place very recently underwent a thorough cleansing and bathroom to bar nothing seemed hideously divey about the place to me. But it seems that might not have been the case in the past. It’s not glamorous, but it's comfortable and fine for drinking good beer and meeting nice folks. So all in all, a very good experience, not to miss if in Brattleboro or the general vicinity. Be sure to keep in mind that it's CASH ONLY, but prices are reasonable for the quality of brew.
06-06-2011 18:25:36 |
More by Durge
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3 | $$
April 23 visited for the second time as part of a VT/NH beer tour. My first visit was also a good experience just got to spend a little more time there on this second trip. Had the Dark Angel a nice fulled bodied, rich stout with a nice malty finish. The atmosphere is very much of a small rough neighborhood pub. A eclectic variety of clientele but still inviting in many ways welcoming. May be a bit loud or rough for some beer drinkers but if i lived near by this would be my neighborhood pub. Also something to be noted not that it effects the experience but there is no parking.
05-01-2011 22:04:54 |
More by woolybear
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $
I've stayed over in Brattleboro three times now, and among the town's many draws is the homely McNeill's. The vibe here is pure Brattleboro--what I would call an elegant stay of decay. Well, maybe not that elegant, but it's certainly charming.
Tucked a short walk away from the main drag in an old, wood building that looks like it's about to fall off the side of a cliff is one of the dingiest, but most laid-back brewpubs I've ever had the pleasure to visit. I love the long, communal tables (plus the turned metal legs and Shaker chairs), I love the coziness the place exudes, and I love the three cask engines. I also love that I found a three-year-old issue of BeerAdvocate (actually a whole stack of Vol. 2, No. X, but I only took one copy) that I had been hoping to find for some time. I don't mind the dust or stacks of junk in the corner, and in a way they add something to the experience. The one thing that I do mind--that makes me wonder if I should drop the atmosphere score a bit--is a rather unpleasant, stale smell. You get used to it and it's not overpowering, but it's far less than ideal when enjoying a fine beer.
The service here is always friendly, whether or it's slow or packed. I'm still puzzled as to why the bar here is an inverse of every other I've visited with the bartenders stepping down behind the bar and appearing oddly short. Maybe it's a more ergonomically correct position from which to pump the cask engines.
That reminds me--McNeill's has some great beers, and while some others have mentioned the occasional dirty line, I've never experienced it. The three casks--including the lovely Dead Horse IPA and even better ESB on my most recent visit--compliment the fresh, tasty draft lines. In addition to the casks, I really enjoyed the Sunshine IPA (I think that's what it was called). McNeill's, like many older New England breweries, specializes in wonderfully balanced takes on English-style ales, which I really enjoy.
The beer is great here, but there's just something about the experience of coming back from a hike, or huddled and hurriedly walking up the road with the crunch of snow underfoot and settling in with a pint and a game of cards at McNeill's long tables. Sitting there, leaning back and sipping a fine cask ale, it's not hard to feel at home.
01-19-2011 19:59:46 |
More by FrankLloydMike
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 3 | $$
This place is...interesting!
Locals certainly love this place and some of the clientèle were colorful to say the least (friendly too). Its somewhat divey, theres really nothing "nice" about the place but who cares? Thats not what McNeil's is all about. Ah yes I played the ring game for about an hour while enjoying my chips and dip. I got pretty good at it in fact.
They brew their beer downstairs right below the pub. The bartender was awesome! He was friendly and took my friend and I on a tour of the "brewery". Its like my basement... but smaller. McNeil's makes some pretty good stuff down there, though. I had the summer IPA and a brown ale. My friend liked the summer IPA enough to get a growler fill of it.
04-26-2010 13:29:26 |
More by zoolzoo
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | $$
This is a staple fixture in what is a two place beer scene in Brattleboro.
My wife and I dropped by earlier today. Ray (owner) was sitting at the bar watching the Sox game. He was nice enough to tell us where the closest ATM was as we totally forgot it was cash only...remember that!
Its got an old tavern or saloon feel inside. Its messy, stuff is all over and it makes you feel as comfortable as you'll ever feel in a place that isn't yours. It just has that atmosphere about it. lots of big tables to sit on and drink and talk. I like that about McNeill's.
They had 6 or so of their beers on tap, nothing too crazy. I had a pint of the Ruby Ale as I know I like it. It was decent, I wish their pints were as cheap as the 22s I see in the stores! $4.25 for a 16 oz pint of $2.99 at the co-op for 22 ounces!
We didn't get food but that is super limited and the kitchen appears to be the other end of the bar.
Definitely stop in for a few beers and talk to Ray if he is there. Play the ring game, sit in the big wooden chair and admire the fact that the bartenders are NOT that short its just the way the bar is.
07-13-2009 01:51:00 |
More by indiapaleale
vibe: 1.5 | quality: 2 | service: 2 | selection: 2 | $$
Wow.. what a disappointment. The beer was mediocre at best. The 'summer brown' was not even brown.. not even close. The Summer IPA was 'ok', but not that good. The 'cask conditioned' IPA was again, 'ok' but far from great. I had great expectations for this place and have enjoyed bottles I've picked up in the past. My biggest objection to the place was it was dirty, unkept and smelly. Hard to enjoy a beer in a place where all you can smell is cleaning solvents and stale urine. ;-( I'm having a hard time trying to find something nice to say about the experience..
07-05-2009 13:49:30 |
More by rixport
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 2 | $
We live here in Brattleboro and McNeill's is one of the reasons why. First, you need to know that Brattleboro is a unique town with vastly different people all living together in harmony, a true "melting pot" if you will. McNeill's is the pub you will find every type of Brattleboro "character" from our smelly hippies to our business men in suites.
McNeil's is designed to be a social pub, with long tables, friendly staff and friendly patrons...there is always a good conversation to be had at McNeill's. With that said lets talk about the beer. It is true some days there are lots of beers with freshly cleaned beer lines and other days there are only two or three beers and the lines are dirty. It is also true that the beer is inconsistent, I like to forget the beers have names and enjoy them for what they are that day 9 times out of 10 awesome. Truth be told Ray McNeill is a great brewer. We enjoy the element of surprise and creativity at McNeill's, we are hooked!
03-17-2009 20:29:18 |
More by ImHereForTheBeer
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McNeill's Brewery in Brattleboro, VT