|One of Stoudt's many dining areas|
Two words can explain why Hailey's Harp and Pub in Metuchen is thriving.
Always working the customer-pleasing angles, from food to beer to Beer Senators, to Hailey's Hockey, the Captain (Chris Flynn) runs a fun ship.
One of his best moves was making Mo his XO, a knowledgeable, loyal Spock who knows his way around the kitchen and the bar.
Together they generate ideas to make Hailey's Harp and Pub a fun place for customers, from beer dinners to Beer Senators and shuffleboard to Hailey's hockey, all the while offering great beer with great food in a classic Irish pub.
Their most recent brainstorm was to run a bus trip for the Beer Senators--totally free, mind you--to the legendary Stoudt's Brewery in PA. In true craic fashion, there were Bloody Marys and Vodka and Cranberry cocktails to enjoy on the two-hour ride there, and the 33 pilgrims aboard enjoyed free wireless access and DVD movies all the way there and back.
"It was just an idea we had to have some fun," says the Captain.
And fun it was, not even counting Caddyshack and Animal House during the ride.
|Mo ensures that all seat belts are fastened|
Stoudt's (Adamstown, PA) is a truly iconic, must-visit place for the beer lover (and the artisanal bread and cheese lover and the good food lover. Ed and Carol Stout are two of the nicest, friendliest folks in the business, and, because of the quality of their products, their establishment has grown from the first microbrewery in PA to a mini-city. Sales Manager Jack Sweeney is cast in their mold: a down to earth, knowledgeable guy who loves what he does.
|Ed and Carol Stoudt|
The Bus from Metuchen arrived in the fore-noon, and during the ride the Senators were somewhat subdued. Ed Stoudt took a break from shucking oysters and promptly bought everyone on the bus a beer. "Subdued" was over. Then he took us on a most engaging tour of his brewery, cracking jokes, offering advice and providing knowledge of just how Stoudt's produces their outstanding beer. He's fun to watch and listen to as he becomes very animated when sharing his tidbits, and the group offered extended applause for him when the tour ended. At 73, he has no plans to retire because "I don't know what I would do, and I love what I'm doing."
|Ed Stoudt holds court|
The assembly then moved to a specially prepared room for a delicious lunch accompanied by Stoudt's famous brews. The PubScout opted for the maibock, as did Jack Sweeney, who allowed that the brew should be offered year-round instead of seasonally. The PubScout heartily concurred, and ordered another to accompany his perfectly done Black Angus Burger.
From there, it was out to the patio for an Alvarez cigar and some chatter. Captain Craic also lit up a cigar whose ring gauge was wider than the brown Newfoundland Lucy's forepaw. A few other senators enjoyed stogies as well.
In all, it was an excellent sojourn to an excellent place with some excellent pilgrims put together by an excellent team.
Hopefully, this trip will be repeated soon, and it wouldn't hurt to stop into Hailey's any night and speak to Captain Craic himself, just to put the bug in his ear.
He'll be the camera-shy one with the hat on. And because he's the captain of the craic, he shouldn't be hard to convince.
More photos here including one of Donna tasting her first (and possibly last) oyster...