Thursday, May 5, 2011

Crafting a haven for craft beer aficionados


Craft beers may still be a small percentage of the overall market, but you wouldn’t know that from the way things are going in Boston’s bar world. Kendall Square’s Meadhall, which opened last week, is the latest entrant in the craft beer arms race. With some 110 taps, bar manager James Sklaver, recently of the Publick House in Brookline, says he hopes that means they’ll have a beer for everyone. 

“We really wanted to please everybody, which we know is impossible,” he says. “We’ve got a lot of seasonal stuff. We’re going to try to rotate as much as possible and get the freshest beer possible. We spent a lot of money on our tap systems, we wanted to be the freshest system in town. A lot of bars don’t have the time or means to take care of the lines.”  

Beer geeks will rejoice, no doubt. But the average drinker need not feel intimidated, he says. The menu is broken down by style, brewery, location, percentage of alcohol and size.

“People like that it is set up by style,” Sklaver says. “It makes it easier to find what you’re looking for and introduce yourself to a style you don’t know a lot about. It’s an educational menu, hopefully.”

There’s always room for improvement

If all goes well, this new bar in Kendall Square should come as welcome news for drinkers in the traditionally desolate, but now burgeoning nightlife locale. Like the brainy, technology-driven neighborhood where it resides, the imposing, two-floor space seems to have the nerdy part of the equation down. But as in the beer making process, and the service industry in general, there is both an art and a science to it. 

Opening weekend, as can be expected in any new endeavor, found them far less adept at navigating the former. Service, in fact, was comically confused. The space — part lab, part cafeteria, part dormitory rec room — seems to struggle with its identity as well. Here’s hoping they don’t fall into the trap of the similarly beer-minded and vastly overrated nearby Lord Hobo, leaving hospitality out of the complicated equation.

4 Cambridge Center,
Cambridge, 617-714-3879

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