Salem Beer Guide: Your Salem guide to beer, beer bars, breweries and brewpubs

Latest reviews from Salem

94 /100 283R DERBY ST.
“Lol of course frickin radarsock gave this place a 3.2.... What a schmuck. Great location where you can sit outside overlooking the river. Not an extensive food menu but it's great for what it is. Beers are usually good to stunning. Notch was the first to use Lukr faucets in the US. They also have delicious draught NA beer, as well as frequent gravity cask tappings.“
ClarkVV 23 days ago
64 /100 283R DERBY ST.
“An openly wide back patio makes this an inviting spot to bring your Cuban-curled cigars and friend-shaming bocce skills. Inside it’s normally crawling. There generally isn’t a line out the door, but given its reputation in this small city and you should still expect to wait upwards of 15+ minutes to get to the front of the bar and place your order. Their beer list changes frequently, and part of the fun in dropping in is just how likely there usually will be something new on draft. Beers here haven’t ever blown me away, and I’ve tried quite a few examples to give them a fighting chance. It’s decent quality but it’s hard to tell if they’ll ever produce something I’d gladly go out of my to purchase. Food is comprised mostly of pretzels and little bready morsels. I wouldn’t consider this a beer destination, but rather a destination that has beer.“
radarsock 2094 days ago
68 /100
Gulu-Gulu Cafe (Restaurant)
247 ESSEX ST.
“A nice little coffee / jazz café. Beer selection was not bad...probably best inside downtown Salem. I drank an Absinthe. They had a lost abbey on draft. Food was good. Place was packed. Not bad. Only thing I didn’t like was waitress petted a dog before she brought our food. EWW.“
MadIndian 2715 days ago
74 /100
Gulu-Gulu Cafe (Restaurant)
247 ESSEX ST.
“Had a quick visit here. Good cafe-type food on offer. The beer range is decent though they probably don’t have much to excite the die-hard beer geeks out there. Good service, average prices. A nice spot to have a quick meal with a beer if you’re swinging through Salem.“
Leighton 3013 days ago
76 /100
Quality Liquors (Beer Store)
5 GEDNEY STREET
“Outside, it’s a seemingly ordinary ratty neighborhood store, but just wait until you step through the doorway and scan the interior. Bottles appear to have been shelved without any kind of formulaic system. Cisco Kriek hid just below my waistline, so bending down was a requirement for me to survey the entire collection. Staff were nice and had given me sufficient directions to Gulu-Gulu up the street. Don’t judge a book by its cover, be courteous, and you’ll be fine.“
radarsock 3260 days ago
68 /100
Gulu-Gulu Cafe (Restaurant)
247 ESSEX ST.
“Met up with Leighton here for a painless IP trade in the late afternoon. I went in after filling my tote with some interesting bottles I picked up at Quality right down the street. Straightaway I noticed the pug face paintings: these were on the door, on pints and mugs, and on the menus. The owner must have been a pug fan. I didn’t ask for a full story, but I can only assume the decision was lovingly personal. Now although I commend the Gulu-Gulu ownership for trying to encompass a little bit of everything with their sweepingly fun and eccentric beer-centered eatery, I ultimately wasn’t astonishingly impressed with the service, or the prices that went along with their beer selection. $14 for 11 oz. of Rochefort 10, anybody? Service was all over the place—it was predominately friendly and cheerful, but I did have to wait almost eleven minutes just to get a pint of beer and a shot of espresso brought to our table. I wouldn’t knock them if it had been a particularly busy lunch rush, but there really weren’t that many people and I didn’t know why there was even a holdup in the first place. Gulu-Gulu in fact isn’t all that easily accessible from the Salem Commuter Rail station, if you’re venturing on foot, that is, but once you hit the downtown area, it’s surprisingly hard to miss. It’s next door to a satisfying pizzeria (Flying Saucer Pizza Co.) and within the immediate vicinity of a Dunkin Donuts. Plus, out in front on Essex Street, there lies a comic book store which can be seen through Gulu’s gargantuan side windows; and when in the hell do we need less comic shops? The servers were all women who dressed as if they were part of a rockabilly cover band, and all the men cooks here either wore a hunting cap or some kind of drab-colored beanie accompanied with tight button-up shirts. Hell, even the customers looked as if they were extras in Nirvana’s "Smells Like Teen Spirit" music video. Now their food, their food was good. I had the TBGT sandwich and thought it was well quantitative for its price; the tastiness/costliness ratio was in the acceptable ballpark, and so, I didn’t feel like I was ripped off when I took a bite. The bellyaching for this place is indeed accurate, but there still are plenty of reasons to drop in. This place also has a reasonable flight price and a cool, 1980s rock/post-punk soundtrack which engagingly pumps singable tracks like "The Headmaster Ritual" by the Smiths in your face. But this is Salem: and it’s probably the best spot in town for craft beer in a bar environment you’re gonna get. It could be better, it could be worse.“
radarsock 3279 days ago
56 /100 121 ESSEX STREET
“The Old Spot is a strange little place. Broken up into two main areas - the first upon entry is a dreary bar space with high tables. After turning a corner in the back of the room you are confronted with the waitress station before entering the more conventional dinner area. Dark maroon paint throughout. Service is abysmal. We went for dinner, were seated in a central location, and I only had one beer the whole time I was there as it was impossible to get the waitress’ attention as she beelined past us or returned from the kitchen. Beer selection was middling to good, with about 10 draft offerings . Unfortunately there were a few specialties that were not on the menu that I only noticed upon exit on tap handles. Fish and chips were overcooked, dark, greasy and mostly breading. You are much better served by hitting the BeerWorks around the corner. I will not be coming back.“
GDTRFB 3706 days ago
82 /100
Gulu-Gulu Cafe (Restaurant)
247 ESSEX ST.
“I would describe this as a very nice coffee shop that has a nice "wide" selection of beer . . . not just the usual styles and brands. I did appreciate the special acoustic panels on the ceiling and in the corners: they made it easy to have a conversation even though the place was crowded. I also liked that I could get 6 oz samples: this let me try several of their offerings. Prices were fair, too: $7 for three 6-oz glasses.“
blackflag321 3907 days ago
84 /100
Quality Liquors (Beer Store)
5 GEDNEY STREET
“Downtown Salem near the Post Office. Ambience is similar to most liquor stores in MA. Service is good, but while usually not supplied until checkout, is supportive of taste. Large selection of imports and bombers to the right as you enter the store, includes rarities not seen in other local area stores. Unfortunately, the racks of bombers are displayed with their back open to the large glass storefront windows. I therefore limit my selections to new-to-the-store products to ensure they are not degraded by light. A solid selection of six-packs are also available in coolers on the back wall and racks in the back corner. Prices are typical to slightly higher for the region. Overall, the solid selection and occasional rarities ensure I include a stop here whenever I am in the area.“
GDTRFB 4246 days ago
80 /100
Quality Liquors (Beer Store)
5 GEDNEY STREET
“Good selection, pretty normal layout, decent 6 pack and 12 pack collection, bombers also plentiful but I liked that there were so many sixers to choose from. Nice prices as well, some of the better prices I have seen. Good stuff.“
thicksuds 4364 days ago
74 /100
Gulu-Gulu Cafe (Restaurant)
247 ESSEX ST.
“The best beer you’ll get in Salem, which granted isn’t saying a whole lot. But overall, this venue has a very credible pick of beers. I got an Atwater Vanilla Java Porter here that I still haven’t seen anywhere else. Interior is as the other reviewer described: an eclectic, artsy spread. Comfortable, but not precisely what I look for in a beer bar. Overall, if you’re in Salem, this is where I’d go for beer.“
sogrady 4366 days ago
70 /100
Gulu-Gulu Cafe (Restaurant)
247 ESSEX ST.
“I have visited Gulu-Gulu mutliple times and each time I have a very similar experience. This is a very lo-key, artsy restaurant in the middle of touristy downtown Salem. Really just a large warehouse/storefront with a Euro garage sale feel. Tables are a mishmash of shapes and sizes, which lends a nice informality, but unfortunately leads to informality in delivery of product. We visited on a Saturday night and they were out of at least 2 beers on the menu (nevermind the chalk board that has not been updated in over a month). Also the red pepper and artichoke tapenade that we ordered was sold out, but we were not told for 15 minutes - and it was on our check! Beer selection is good for the area, and you can usually find a suprise draft-only offering from a NE brewer. The beer prices are also very good - full pints of 90 min go for $6. Food is mostly appetizers, cheese plates, and paninis/wraps. Food is a little expensive - I wouldn’t expect a turkey wrap to cost $9...all in all it is one of my wife’s favorites as there is usually good czech pils on tap, but lack of updates to the menu, informal/inattentive service and high food prices cause me to pause before each encounter and alter my expectations accordingly. “
GDTRFB 4525 days ago
78 /100 121 ESSEX STREET
“Now in addition to Salem Beer Works, there is an Old Spot diagonally across from the Hawthorne Hotel. Formally known as McSwiggan’s, this had a really nice tap offering. Tucher, Otter Creek, Sierra Nevada, La Chouffe, Guiness and DuPont Saison in a bottle to name a few. Just had a bread pudding (Spotted Dick) for dessert but the menu seemed interesting enough for a returnlunch/dinner visit. 1/27/07: Dinner-Ploughman’s Lunch was excellent with cheeses, chutney, pate, apple, egg and bread. Wings good as well. Had braised pork shoulder with an overwhelming onion gravy, however potato/cheddar pancakes were very good. Berkshire Brewing on rotating tap. “
Thaichile 5880 days ago
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