Towne Tavern, Torrington
I’m bummed out. When I first put together my list of “true taverns” of Connecticut, there were maybe a dozen lone survivors. The tavern license was unique and wonderfully limiting. It allowed establishments to only serve lower alcohol beer and wine. No liquor, not double IPAs or high octane stouts. They were all old – and “old man” – bars. Several were historic. Taverns were a place for locals and townies to gather and speak. Like a coffeehouse with macro lagers on tap. Beautiful places.
Then, during the pandemic, the state government made a ton of “streamlining” changes to existing liquor laws and licenses. Breweries could sell more to-go and distilleries could serve drinks and restaurants could sell package, and all sorts of things. Lost in the mix was the discontinuation of the tavern license, as of July 2020.
No more true, classic, old school taverns in Connecticut. They were moved into the cafe license tier which meant they could serve liquor and stronger beers. So that leaves us with a category of places on CTMQ that no longer truly fit that category.
So those joints that were taverns until the summer of 2020 are now more or less just local dive bars – which I write with love, not derision. I assume their bulk of beer sales are still American macro lagers, and I know their clientele is still mostly old local white dudes.
As an old (non)-local white dude, I’ll still check them out I guess. Like I did at Towne Tavern in Torrington.
Towne Tavern is one of the oldest and last remaining true taverns in Connecticut. Nestled in Torrington, Towne Tavern has been providing the authentic New England tavern experience for over 70 years. True to the definition, Towne Tavern serves a variety of beers, wines and ciders for guests to choose from while maintaining the quaint, familiar atmosphere of a working-man’s bar. As one of ten true taverns left in Connecticut, it’s perfect for those looking for a quick bite or brew in a casual, friendly and quintessentially New England setting.
Funny thing about that blurb on their website; I can’t help but think they got their information from yours truly. I called my list “true taverns” and there were ten on it a few years ago when their webpage was last updated. Fascinating.
And sadly out of date.
Speaking of being out of date, as I took my seat with my $2.75(!) Miller High Life can, half of the bar was having a decidedly 2015 conversation about beer. It was a wonderful throwback.
There was general derision of “hoppy IPAs.” And they were specifically disgusted by Sip of Sunshine, which by 2022 standards, is a “normal” Citra-forward beer. Just wait until 2030 comes around and they get hip to all the truly awful sickly sweet IPAs that are all the rage today. (Please, please let them be gone by 2030.)
I didn’t say a word to anyone about anything. I also wasn’t wearing a hoodie or a baseball hat:
There was also a derisive conversation about beer prices in New York City ($9 PBR!) and local breweries. “Why would anyone pay eight dollars for a freaking beer?” These Torrington folks have it nice here at Towne Tavern. It’s the bar that time forgot. And it’s great.
Of course NASCAR was on the television and AC/DC was pumping through the speakers, but what else would you expect? As the one person who didn’t know anyone, I got some looks sure, but why wouldn’t I?
Towne Tavern is more or less located in the middle of a neighborhood. Again, of course it is. It doesn’t look too dissimilar to the nearby homes and the parking lot is pretty tiny. The inside space is fairly cramped too, but I see that they host duo and even trio musical acts which is crazy. That’s gotta be really tight.
But there is a decently sized kitchen that pumps out a rather impressive menu of pub fare. I’m sorry… tavern fare. On my way to the tiny restroom, I saw the chef mixing and molding ground beef into fat burger patties by hand. This place is legit.
All of it. Even the bathroom decor is legit Torrington townie bar:
Even though there are no true true taverns left in Connecticut, and they’ve all simply become nothing different than any other small neighborhood bar now, I’m hoping those last remaining taverns retain the spirit they operated on for decades. Towne Tavern certainly does. And while it’s obviously not a place that everyone would enjoy, or even feel comfortable in, it has its niche.
As I left, the bartender had one final “townie bar” box to check: she called me “hun.” Cheers to that and to the last of a dying breed.