It’s a Friday night, mid 70s outside, and there are just a few little clouds in the sky. Could there have been a better day to hit up the brand new Beer Garden @ Harbor Point? No, probably not. Unfortunately, it seemed that everybody in Fairfield County agreed, but we still managed to find a killer parking spot just right outside of Walgreen’s. There’s also a huge lot nearby that they have devoted to Beer Garden parking, too, if you can’t find any street-side spots.
Before we even entered, we were amazed to see this building that was empty just a few months ago, turned into a massive party scene. Maddy’s food truck and Lobstercraft were outside, with about 50 devoted followers ready to get their grub on. That is one of the great things about this Beer Garden: although you can’t get food inside (yet), they’ll have food trucks there for you to get your nom on.
As we entered, music was pumping and the drone of party-goers was immensely loud. It felt more like a fist-pumping night club than a beer garden, with bouncers at the front door, girls in night club dresses and heels, dudes in tight, white t-shirts and cocktails about. Our prospects at the downstairs bar didn’t look good because the huge bar was swamped with people. We saw people up on the deck, so we thought, hey…bet the bar upstairs is better. Well, it wasn’t any better, but we decided to wait in line anyway.
As we waited, we saw the Half Full draft kicked and saw another draft finished up. Our prospects didn’t look good. Then things started to look worse when we saw only 4 brave souls were manning the bar. Images of the final scenes of zombie movies when the heroes are about to perish because the swarm was so big popped into our heads. For them to handle the crowds at this popular spot, they’re definitely going to need more servers, faster servers (ours moved at the pace of a zombie) and a better system. Part of the problem is that they were also serving up mixed drinks and that took quite a bit of time as opposed to pouring out some beer or wine which is relatively quick.
So, after about 20 minutes of waiting, desperately trying to get the bartender’s attention, we finally got our brews. Kristien had the Captain Lawrence Sun Block Witte and Dan had the Two Roads Ol’ Factory Pils. Both the beers we ordered were great, but we wished there was more of a selection. It’s tough to call it a beer garden with only 8 beers on tap (and two of them kicked), although they had 8 others in bottles. While the wait for beer was frustrating, we did get to meet a nice reader of our blog, Volter. That (plus the beer) made the wait worth it.
We took our beer outside to the outdoor deck, sat down for a bit, and enjoyed the beautiful night. After a while, we decided to check out downstairs and the huge outdoor promenade overlooking the water and the docked boats. What a beautiful view, and it’s amazingly huge with people spread out all over…which we’re wondering how the heck it’s even legal, but we’re not complaining. At this time we discovered a tip that could have made our night a bit less frustrating: if you sit down at the outside tables by the downstairs bar, servers will take your orders. You’ll still need to wait for those brews (likely for a long time), but at least you won’t have to push your way through to make sure no one tries to sneak past you while you’re waiting in line.
On the way out who should we run into by Stamford’s own Conor Horrigan! He was having a great time at the bar, hanging with friends, and enjoying the brews. And, he actually told us it’s amazing how much Half Full they’re going through. Conor said they’ve been bringing over new kegs as they run out. Very convenient that they’re so close by. In fact, they’ve already gone through more than 8 kegs of the Half Full Bright Ale in the first two days of opening.
We love the huge outdoor beer garden idea and it certainly is even more amazing that it’s right on the water. We also love how this is bringing more life to a relatively quiet area of Harbor Point. If you’re going, and you brought your appetite, try out whatever food trucks are nearby. You might also get some drinks then head down the road to Mr. Frosty’s for burgers, shakes, fries, and ice cream. Also, you could easily ride over to Dinosaur or stay dockside by hitting up Dolce Cubano. As long as The Beer Garden focuses hard on bringing the service up to speed, keeping the kegs full, and staying away from becoming a club scene versus a true, laid back, beer garden, they should thrive!
The Beer Garden @ Harbor Point
15 Harbor Point Road
Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 4 pm until last call and Saturday-Sunday from noon until last call