McLadden's is a very small local chain, with just three locations (the others being in Hamden, MA and West Hartford, CT), Northampton being the newest. When they opened there was a decent amount of buzz about them, but I heard very mixed, at best, reviews about the food, and with The Dirty Truth a tenth of a mile away, I honestly did not see much need to go there. Following my post-wedding trip, which gave me a view of their thoroughly impressive array of taps, I figured it was worth a shot. They advertise having 105 taps, but not all of them are active at any given moment. When I went with my cousin and her boyfriend, they had 102 running, and because they change options so often they do not have a printed menu; rather, there is a display that rotates through the options, or you can use your smartphone to scan a UPC or to go to a website that provides a full list of the available beers on tap, bottle or can. You can select the beer and it will give you some information about the beer and brewery, as well as where it is available near you.
We arrived around 9pm and still had to wait about ten minutes or so to be seated at one of about ten booths; the place was packed, especially around the bar, but the wait was not a major issue as it allowed us to browse the beer list online and pick out what we each wanted. I went with Founders Brewing Company's Imperial Stout, a specialty beer available as a "winter warmer," while Rick had a Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits Sculpin IPA at my recommendation; I do not remember my cousin Hana's beer selection, but I believe it was a pretty solid choice. Mine was spectacular, similar to the Lagunitas Brewing Company Imperial Stout I had at the 2013 American Craft Beer Fest, but not quite as sour. It was sharp, heavy and deeply flavored, malty as can be, and very much an alcohol-heavy beer but without feeling like it was overpowering the hops and malt that make it such a tremendous beer. It is a 10.5% ABV beer, though, so they served a smaller (I believe 10oz) portion in a goblet, and that was just right to go with my food. The Sculpin was as good as ever, one of my top three IPAs, and really deserves its own review, which I will take care of in the near future.
|Guinness Lamb Stew, with Rick's and Hana's dishes in the background|
Prices were properly in line for the beer, nothing out of the ordinary, while the food was a little overpriced for such an establishment. That said, it was not so overpriced as to make me not go there again, I just may not pick it as my primary beer establishment. The service was fine, except that while we were waiting the waitress who said she would be back to get our beer orders never rematerialized, but since we were not waiting an insanely long time that is not much of a problem. All in all, I would highly recommend at least checking the place out, for the beer if nothing else, but the food is a good option as well.
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