Tapping the Keg: Review of Bidwell Tavern Cafe and New England Brewing Company's Sea Hag

“Tapping the Keg” is a weekly review of craft beers brought to you by staff writer Dan Wood.

Bidwell Tavern Cafe, located in Coventry, is less than a 10 minutes drive a way and reasonably priced for college students. The atmosphere is as cozy as a pub in London with a wood-fired hearth and exposed-wood interior. (Athlex/Creative Commons)

With Storrs Center being relatively new, many of the local bars and restaurants that serve beer and other alcohol have fairly high prices for a pint of a decent craft beer, and often lack in atmosphere. If you are looking for a bar that is as cozy as a pub in London and won’t leave you broke after a beer or two, look no further than Bidwell Tavern Café in Coventry. It is only about seven minutes away from the center of campus and well-worth the drive especially in the winter, considering the historical, exposed-wood interior is heated by a wood-fired hearth. The distance from campus and love from the locals also make it a bit sparse to the typical college crowd, which some might find refreshing.

From their website: “A true English-style pub, Bidwell Tavern is a fantastic spot to knock back a pint or two in the Coventry district of Coventry. Cautious diners will appreciate the low-fat and gluten-free fare at Bidwell Tavern. Televisions are strewn throughout the bar, so fans can stay up to date on the latest sports happenings. Load up the mini-van and bring the kids to this bar? They'll love the menu and scene here as much as mom and dad. During the summer months, don't miss out on Bidwell Tavern's outdoor patio seating. Your large group can all sit together at Bidwell Tavern. Musical visitors frequently perform here, so patrons can enjoy live tunes with their food.”

The televisions are displayed primarily at the bar, but the volume and size of the televisions is not the focal point of this establishment, unlike the sensory overload that is the modern sports bar. The layout is open with many unique tables and booths so you can have a little privacy but never be too far from your server’s view.

What really drew my attention was the beer list. Bidwell had an impressive selection of seasonal drafts from all kinds of brewers, including many local breweries like New England Brewing Company’s Sea Hag.

Sea Hag is an IPA that you really can’t help but enjoy. It is not too outrageous for those who are not into the super hop flavors of modern IPAs, but complex enough to satisfy the connoisseurs, not to mention the wide range of pairing.

New England Brewing Company’s Sea Hag is beautiful amber gold with a frothy top. Not a huge head retention, but enough to say what it needs to about the body of the beer. The nose is warm and slightly tropical-smelling with clear indication of a hop forward flavor, but not so much so that it becomes sour or skunky. The top confirms much of the nose, but the flavor is much deeper than the nose implies. Transitioning into the body we are greeted by a savoryness from a very balanced malt, yielding a pleasant cereal flavor. The finish on this beer is floral and a bit citrus forward with a mild bitterness that when coupled, is reminiscent of Meyer lemon. The body is relatively light and the bitterness from the hops is very brief.

This beer would pair nicely with a large variety of standard pub fair. So if this beer sounds good to you, regular customers to the Bidwell Tavern would probably recommend any flavor of the various chicken wings that seem to be their most popular item. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and have an incredibly friendly and fast service staff.

In addition to Bidwell Tavern, you can find Sea Hag in a six-pack of cans at Storrs Wine and Spirits and Villa Spirit Shoppe for around $10.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10


Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.wood@uconn.edu.