A seedling of potential at The Beer Garden @ Harbor Point

14 May

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.

Dan, Volter, Kristien, and Dennis meet up!  Great guys!

Dan, Volter, Kristien, and Dennis meet up! Great guys!

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.

Tip:  sit here to get served.  It's a much more calm experience.

Tip: sit here to get served. It’s a much more calm experience.

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.

Final Thoughts

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

Stamford, CT 

Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 4 pm until last call and Saturday-Sunday from noon until last call

The Beer Garden @ Harbor Point on Urbanspoon

16 Responses to “A seedling of potential at The Beer Garden @ Harbor Point”

  1. Brianna R. (@bklyncorkdork) May 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    Dogs are allowed outside, just not in the bar. I haven’t read an official decree but we brought our dog and had no problems.

    Dan & Kristen, I agree with all of your points. Before moving to Stamford, I lived in the city and frequented the beer gardens in Astoria so I definitely have my opinions. I think they need to make some quick fixes and this could easily be my favorite summer hangout. First, they need to tone down the house music. It’s too loud and does not fit with the scene at all. Live music would be awesome. Second, hire more people, both bartenders and bar-backs. They ran out of glassware the opening night because there wasn’t anyone to bus the tables. Get another server station so they aren’t waiting to enter drink orders and stick a bartender exclusively on table service orders. Finally, stick to beer and wine. They can still serve liquor but probably shouldn’t display it so prominently. I’m not sure if it’s a learning curve or if they are just slow but I watched them struggle to make drinks last weekend and it’s just not necessary. It’s a beer garden!

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    • Dan and Kristien Del Ferraro May 19, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

      Dogs are allowed…awesome! Your ideas are right on. It’s so tough. You want them to succeed and do well, but you also need to make sure your feelings are heard. They need to definitely pay attention to your ideas….you’re really spot on there.

      Like

  2. uhcowboys May 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Great write up guys! I am planning to check this place out on Saturday afternoon (good weather permitting). I have seen a lot of posts and comments and most of the issues seem to be service related…that is why my small group waited a little bit. I am hoping that an afternoon visit will allow us to avoid a massive crowd and the service issues and club atmosphere that come with it. Not surprised the place is a little cluby…seems like the Fairfield County way of doing a beer garden :) . Seems like a great premise (beer and food trucks) and location, my only fear is that the owners/managers dont think that they dont have to put effort in because the premise is so great on its own. Sort of like when you see that a movie is coming out and it has some star studded cast and then you see it and it’s like “c’mon I know the cast is killer but ya still gotta try”. Once again amazing write up. Cant wait to check out the remodeled beer garden/patio at Station Eats as well

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  3. Lady Di May 14, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    I’m considering doing my birthday party there, upstairs in June… I wonder if they’ll have all the “bugs” worked out by then???

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    • Dan and Kristien Del Ferraro May 14, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

      Hey there, thanks for reading. If you’re able to have that upstairs room rented out or the back deck, we’re sure it should be pretty smooth. See what options the managers or owners have available. They might be able to provide you with servers or give you a portion of the bar? Doesn’t ever hurt to ask. And…by June…yeah, they should have things worked out nicely.

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  4. Vanessa May 14, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    Any dogs there?

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    • Dan and Kristien Del Ferraro May 14, 2013 at 9:47 am #

      Vanessa, that’s a great question. We were wondering the same thing. We saw people walking dogs, but didn’t see any dogs ordering beer or drinks. We also didn’t see dogs at the tables outside…we’d love to know if they were dog-friendly. If it’s very crowded like it was when we went, it probably would be too nerve-wracking for many dogs, though. You’d have to go at a slower time.

      Like

      • Lauren May 14, 2013 at 10:12 am #

        We plan on going this Saturday afternoon and hopefully bringing our dog. Seems like it would be a nice spot to sit outside with her before the crowds get crazy.

        Like

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