Hoboken’s not exactly a mile square, as residents know; it’s actually about 1.27 miles in total area, and it’s far from square. Still, you can’t blame most of the people who live here from staying in a fairly tight square when it comes to going out for some nightlife; the edges of Hoboken tend to be more residential or have a serial killer/abandoned warehouse vibe that isn’t conducive to a night out.
Consider the lamentable 800 Jackson Street. Adjacent to the Light Rail station, this condo building sits between the station (and its elevator heading up to Jersey City, which is a true blessing for any of us who have reasons to go to Jersey City) and the cliffs on one side and an empty lot and the butt end of the Monroe Center on the other. It’s … not an attractive area, to be frank.
Still, the location should be great for a modest pub, with the Light Rail and Jersey City pedestrian traffic. Some of us might recall the dark Tilted Kilt years when that curious little chain made a go of it there; I always intended to check it out but a voice always whispered to me that there simply had to be less cheesy places to grab a beer (although I will always remember that when the whole city was blacked out after Hurricane Sandy, the Kilt—which hadn’t even officially opened yet, I don’t think—had the bar open for cash business, which made me love them).
The Tilted Kilt couldn’t make it, and now we have the much less cheesy Taphaus in its place. So, the other day I grabbed my brother and told him we had a beer-tasting mission; he came down from JC and I trooped over to the Light Rail and we checked out Taphaus.
I never actually made it into The Tilted Kilt, so I don’t know how much renovation was done, but Taphaus has a nice understated flavor to it. It’s nicely done, spacious and inviting, but there’s not a lot of ‛character’ in the sense of the place having an individual identity. This may not matter—after all, you come to a place to eat and drink, not necessarily soak up the atmosphere.
We took a seat at the bar and checked out the menus. They do have a great selection of beers—more than 20 on draft, with a short list of bottles to follow it up. They also offer some beer “cocktails” like the traditional Black & Tan—while you can usually order a Black & Tan anywhere that offers draft beers, seeing a full list of ideas in this vein was very cool.
We ended up sampling six of their offerings—I started off with a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, my brother got an Allagash White. Then we moved on to a Brotherton IPA and a Weihenstephaner Hefeweiss, and finally I chose a palate-cleaning Brooklyn Lager and he got a Palm Ale. The pours were perfect, the service was great, and we should note that they also offer flights of three beers for $10 so you can sample a range of brews without committing to any.
Overall, Taphaus is a pleasant place to have a few beers in the afternoon. People were ordering food and seemed pretty excited about it, though we didn’t sample any grub this time around. The place wasn’t packed, but the bartender was very attentive without hovering, and the most important thing is that I tried three different beers and there are still more than 20 waiting for me to sample. If you ever have reason to head to the very edge of town, check out Taphaus.