Bar Review of McLadden’s Irish Publick House in Northampton, MA.
I’m not going to keep you in suspense on this one. McLadden’s is the best beer bar in Central Massachusetts (that I’ve been to), and here’s why:
- The Beer Selection. McLadden’s has 105 beers on draught at this location and utilizes the Perfect Pour system. You can access the complete list at any time on their website, here. It’s not just the sheer number of beers that make the selection great, it the rarity of the beers here. On my visit I was able to get a Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union that was cask-aged with Equinox, Nectarines & Chili Peppers (review here), that wasn’t being offered anywhere else. I followed that up with a Freigiest Geisterzug Rhubarb Gose (review here), which is certainly not something you find on draught everyday. As I’m writing this review I went on their website and saw that beers like Pretty Things Barbapapa Imperial Stout and Timmermans Pumpkin Lambicus were both available, as an example.
- No Beer Menu. A good beer bar should always have a beer menu, but when you have more than 100 draughts that are constantly rotating, how accurate can a paper menu be? There is nothing more frustrating than ordering a rare beer that you’re excited about only to have them tell you the keg kicked an hour ago, and then ordering your second choice and having them be out of that too (this has actually happened to me). Not to mention that the beers that have replaced them aren’t on the menu, and they could be something I’d like to have, but if the bartender isn’t savvy enough to tell me about them, I’ll never know. McLadden’s solves this problem by having an electronic menu board (a large flatscreen TV) mounted to the wall, and it constantly cycles through all the choices by style and constantly updates if something changes. If you can’t see the TV that well from where you’re sitting, it’s no problem, you can pull up the list on your phone. It’s magic!
- Atmosphere/Location. The inside of McLadden’s is an awesomely-cozy dark wood-paneled haven, reminiscent of other traditional Irish pubs but with an extra touch of class. The location is right on the main drag in downtown Northampton, which is a quaint walk-around town with plenty to do and a hip vibe. The only concern might be parking, but I had no problem finding any on my visit.
It’s also worth mentioning that they have a small gastropub menu, and while it doesn’t have a ton of selections, what it does have is high quality and certainly enough to keep you there when your hunger comes knockin’. The only thing you could point to as a negative is the prices, because the really rare stuff doesn’t come cheap, but in reality their prices on this type of beer were competitive with other similar bars I’ve been to, unlike when Louie Anderson was on a “Celebrity Diving” reality show,… that wasn’t very competitive at all.