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Last night after my friend Mike Fraser found his Irish Setter, Aubrey James, who’d been lost for a day. After his ordeal, we decided after Aubrey was bathed, fed, and settled to meet up and drive to New Haven to check out Prime 16 and the New England Brewery’s Tap Takeover. Mike was relieved, because as anyone who knows what it’s like to be friends with a dog, he was nerve-shot the entire time his dog was out, especially considering the mass of snow that fell.

I was relieved because I also like dogs very much, and didn’t have to drive. Also, Mike is obsessive compulsive with music—which is a good thing when you’re on a decent length drive, and I was going to get into some really hoppy beer.

The sidewalks in New Haven, covered in snow, presented a slight challenge to us sober, and more of a challenge later on. That kind of muck slush with marbled swirls of sand, mud, and pigeon shit so natural to the concrete of wintertime city sidewalks.

Prime 16 was packed, and we were late for our table so we had to kill some time squeezed tight in the bar side—which was nice. I’d like to say more about the bar, but it was hard to get a visual grip on because there were so many people. In the bar and restaurant soft lighting burned from square, off-white wall mounts, and the classic rum-orange glass votive holders on each table. And in the restaurant there were pictures stylized after old advertisements, or perhaps they really were old.

We started with the Gandhi Bot, a pint each, and Mike declared the drink “heaven in a glass.” I didn’t check my jacket—an old gray, black and red CB from the eighties that I earned since my dad put on American comfort rolls and can’t fit into it anymore—but that didn’t matter much because our table came up right quick and we were seated and deciding between the selection of Prime’s burgers.

The appetizer’s that aroused our foodlust were the pretzel with IPA infused mustard and chicken tenders—both fine choices. The pretzel looked more like a breadstick, but had bits of burnt sea salt on it that seared a new taste into my brain, one that I hope never to forget for it’s flavor. The mustard, and this will probably be my only complaint of the food, had enough heat to it that it was impossible to get an impression of the IPA supposedly infused in it. But I did still like the mustard, which stayed on my end of the table because Mike has no palette for that kind of heat.

Our waitress told us that Prime 16 will be doing another Tap Takeover in March with Allagash brewery. And we discussed possibly going to that while drinking The Citra Sea Hag. The Hag, made with citra hops, had the characteristics of a hoppy IPA but with grapefruit and orange flavors and scents as well. The Gandhi Bot, a double-IPA—which is an IPA after a serious overindulgence of hops and malts—was our favorite on tap of the night.

We originally had the Gandhi Bot on tap at My Place Restaurant in Newtown. Mike did a bit of research on the beer and found out about the Prime 16 event.

The service at Prime was great. Despite all the tables and the crowd, we didn’t wait for anything except our initial seats. The burgers came quick: Mike ordered the Cowboy Burger: smoked Canadian bacon, Vermont cheddar, Romaine, salsa, and topped with a fried egg that ruptured and drooled over the sides of the burger when he mashed on the bun.

The Maui Burger.


I ordered the Maui Burger: Maui onion, smoked applewood bacon, a kind of tropical mayo (I couldn’t tell what was in it), pepper jack cheese, and topped with a ring of pineapple. Both burgers completely Angus beef. And they were both impressive. A solid thirty-napkin dinner. Messy and delicious.

The second round of beers were the Loose Canon, from the Clipper City Brewery, and the Citra hop Sea Hag, which I described above. The Loose Canon I’d had before. It’s a solid IPA that recently became a little more popular when Dogfish Head brewery wasn’t able to supply Connecticut, and other states, with full deliveries of beer since their recent popularity and success with their show on the Discovery Channel. Loose Canon was a replacement choice in many stores according to the Northeast Beverage beer rep that comes to the store I work at.

The bar stayed packed until we left, and there were rumors that cherry vanilla and coffee versions of New England Brewery’s Imperial Stout Trooper were on cask, but when I went to order them, they were tapped. Res ipsa loquitor.

The food and service at Prime were phenomenal, and it seemed like they have done and plan to do many specialty beer nights. If you’re in New Haven, they have an awesome Happy Hour—drafts are half price.