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Mystic— At a recent happy hour, patrons inside the lively Shipyard Tavern at Latitude 41° were sipping their favorite Shipyard beers from personalized mugs and munching on beer-infused dishes.
The revamped tavern opened last Tuesday to much fanfare, with more than 200 people stopping by to check out the Shipyard Brewing Company craft beers on tap and new tavern menu to compliment the beer selections.
Many joined the "Mystic Mug Club." Members get a personalized beer mug held at the tavern, a Shipyard Brewing T-shirt, a birthday lunch, member's only events and half-price appetizers.
The club was so popular that the tavern ordered 50 more mugs. Each mug is numbered but instead of choosing the next mug in numerical order, many of the members picked their favorite or lucky numbers.
"There's a feeling of ownership, that this is your place and this is your mug," David Labbe said, in explaining the tavern's appeal to locals. Labbe does marketing for Latitude 41°.
The Shipyard beers on tap ranged from the light Mystic Seaport Pale Ale to the darker Double Old Thumper Ale, so there's something for everyone. I enjoyed the Old Thumper Ale, a non-traditional English bitter, and Export Ale, the full-bodied, flagship brand.
Chef Colin Giles used the pale ale and aged cheddar to make a fondue that is served with grilled ciabatta, and he added the pale ale to the batter for the fish and chips since its light flavor accents the dish.
Instead of the traditional red wine, Export Ale was used in the beef bolognaise to sweeten and lighten the dish, while the citrusy Shock Top Belgian Wheat compliments both the shrimp and mussels appetizers.
Any of these dishes will pair nicely with a Shipyard beer for a fun happy hour with friends, but the dish not to be missed is the drunken pork spring roll.
Chef Giles used the Old Thumper Ale since the hint of sweetness and fruity aroma go well with the molasses-based sauce in the spring roll. It has some spice to it but the pulled pork is more of an Asian barbeque style, served over a delicious cabbage slaw.
The spring roll was my favorite, and one of the chef's personal favorites, but the fondue was a close second. The beer taste wasn't overpowering and the cheese was incredibly good.
The tavern is located at 105 Greenmanville Ave. Happy hour is Tuesday to Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., with live music on Thursdays and Fridays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Visit the Coastal Gourmet Group and Latitude 41° on Facebook for hours and more information, or call 860-572-5303.