When you’re on a beer road trip, having a stop that combines lunch and craft beer is a good time saver. You’ve gotta eat and it might as well be done with a nice pint. Food is especially necessary during a beer trip to help balance out the alcohol. So on our way to Buffalo we decided to stop in Niagara Falls at the Taps Brewing Company, a brewpub located near downtown but far enough from the tourist strip.
I’d had some good beers from Taps over the years, especially when Kevin Somerville was the man behind the brews, but Taps has rarely been available in Toronto. Other than those few times, the brewery has remained a mystery to me. It now owns the Niagara’s Best brand and the Syndicate brewpub, which seems to have the same beers. It has the same name as Canada’s only beer magazine, but there is no relation between them. Was it a beer geek place, a seedy bar or more family friendly like the Granite? I had no clue, but was eager to find out.
Taps is really none of those three options. The space itself is open and bland – no beer paraphernalia, little signage and lots of blank walls. It was kind of sad in its emptiness and the orange coloured walls reminded me of party rooms for childhood birthday parties. Not the kind of place I would be willing to make my local waterhole unless the beers were phenomenal. As I remembered, the beers were decent but not special. My friends got the ESB and Mild, which packed lots of flavour but were both a little unbalanced. I was adventurous and tried the Vanilla Wheat, which sounded bad in theory but was actually the nicest beer of the three. A very pleasant weisse beer that has only a slightly vanilla quality and a dry finish. I would have gladly had another if we weren’t in a rush to hit the road.
While the beers were decent, there were other factors of our visit to Taps that would probably stop me from visiting again. The food was what you would expect from a place that advertised a $7 lunch. None of us felt quite right after our meal, but the food cannot be definitively pointed to as the cause. There was only one server when we were there, which was admittedly at a normally slow time of 2:30pm. It was quite busy though, leaving our table and a number of others waiting a while for drinks, food and bills. This is in no way to blame her, but just say that it didn’t make for a great experience.
If you’re passing through Niagara, Taps is not a bad place to stop and get a drink. But only get a drink and order at the bar.