Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Seanachaí's Story

Warren County's Rt. 629 from Rt. 57 is smooth and scenic, and it ends as Grand Avenue in Hackettstown, which is a kind of hub for some great motorcycle roads, like 517 and 604. I've driven past Bea McNally's at 109 Grand Ave. a few times in the past year, and, while it's a nice looking building, a jaded part of me just yawned and said, "another Irish Pub."

Don't get me wrong; I love Irish pubs, and I frequent too many to list here. But because I usually passed the place in the morning, I wasn't moved to check it out. Despite it 'being 5 o'clock somewhere," The PubScout doesn't drink before noon by his watch.

But today, I happened to turn down Grand off Rt. 46 at around 2:30. I had logged about 140 miles on the bike by then, and a rest stop was due. I planned to have a burger and a beer, provided Bea had some decent libation. I could meet the proprietor-ess, stretch the old legs, fill my belly and empty (and refill) my bladder for the ride home.

Bea McNally's Irish Pub has only been in business for about a year, but whoever put this place together did it right. At the door, I asked the smiling hostess if she was Bea McNally. Turns out Bea inhabits the pub only in an old portrait. Bea, it seems, was a seanachai (pronounced shawna-key), which is or was an Irish storyteller. Personally, I've never met an Irishman or woman who wasn't a storyteller, but this title is a giant step up from just "garrulous."

A nice, big welcoming bar greets you as you enter, and behind it today was friendly, pretty Cathy offering a plethora of really good beers. There's also a plethora of eating areas in this labyrinthine pub, all beautifully decorated, comfortable and clean.

Cathy offers an Arrogant Bastard
to an arrogant bastard...
There's a lunch special every day for just $10 that includes your choice of entree, salad or soup and fries or chips. I opted for the Monday Monte Cristo, a salad and fries and an Arrogant Bastard.

The salad was absolutely delicious with a housemade sweet balsamic dressing, and the fries were perfectly done. The sandwich itself was huge, and chock full of meat and whatever else is in a Monte Cristo. It was so big, in fact, that yours truly could not finish it. (But I did manage to finish the Arrogant Bastard.)

I got to chat with Manager Tim Sengle, the guy responsible for the beer selections as well as the condition of the pub. I commended him on his choices, and he offered that he'd like to do an event that would help his clientele learn more about the growing beer world.
"We're at the spot with beer that the wine folks were at ten years ago," said Sengle, "and I'd like my customers to be educated about what's out there and how to appreciate it." And he's serious about educating his serving staff as well.

"I can do that," I said. And we may very likely be joining forces soon to enlighten the customers. Stay tuned, therefore for news of a "Beer Event" at Bea McNally's.

It was, therefore, a very serendipitous visit. I found a new pub to share with good beer drinkers and good food lovers (that's what I do, after all), and Tim found a willing accomplice in his beer mission.

Bea McNally's is decidedly not just "another irish Pub." I'd wager the students at nearby Centenary College would agree. I may have passed Bea McNally's often before today, but after today, passing it will be tough to do.

Unless it's morning.

The PubScout

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