Familiar fare served up in a cozy New England atmosphere
By Elodie Reed
When patrons enter The Brewmaster’s Tavern, in addition to a menu, they receive a list of “The Rules” for the Williamsburg, Mass., restaurant.
Among the commandments: “If you Soak bread in the Sauce let it be no more than what you put in your Mouth,” “Drink not too leisurely nor yet too hastily,” and “Smile. A pleasant smile is pleasing to behold.”
If these sound a little dated, that’s because they are. From the guest guidelines to the cozy brick walls and the wooden booths, plus the historical photographs and the old-style, New England dishes, The Brewmaster’s Tavern harkens back to its origins as the hotel that Gross Williams first opened in 1812.
Since then, the building on the corner of Route 9 and Petticoat Hill Road has been active in one way or another, according to Darin Sullivan, the restaurant’s general manager. It has hosted a livery, a hotel upstairs that served food downstairs, a tavern and a series of different restaurants.
Even when it burned down in 1873, the Williams House was rebuilt by the next year, just in time to house those who lost their homes after a dam broke along the Mill River in 1874.
“This is one of the only buildings that withstood the flood,” Sullivan said. “It sort of became a sanctuary for all of the people of Williamsburg.”
Nowadays, The Brewmaster’s Tavern is a different kind of sanctuary, one where people come for some classic, New England comfort. The restaurant opened 12 years ago, and it has built a reputation for affordable meals, good beer and a killer roasted turkey dinner.
“We cook four 35-pound turkeys every day,” Sullivan said. Even the day after Thanksgiving, he added, the turkey dinner is a customer favorite.
Other popular items from the menu, advertising “today’s flavors with a touch of yesteryear,” include a chicken mac and cheese, a turkey pot pie and a shepherd’s pie.
“We try and keep it seasonal,” Sullivan said. “We like to change it at least one time a year.”
As for drinks, The Brewmaster’s Tavern takes advantage of the brewery next door, Brewmaster Brewing Services, which distributes all kinds of Opa Opa beer: IPAs, stouts, Oktoberfest, the popular Red Rock Amber Ale, as well as seasonal brews like its summertime watermelon ale.
Sullivan said everything served is priced “for family.” Every Tuesday and Saturday, The Brewmaster’s Tavern offers its “Colonial Plate Menu” for $5.99. On Sundays, it serves a breakfast buffet for the same price, and ditto for a burger and Opa Opa beer on Wednesdays.
Perhaps because of the tavern’s prices, or because of the food familiar to their past, Sullivan said the restaurant is popular among the older generation as well as Berkshire residents.
“We get a lot of people from Pittsfield, Dalton, the Berkshire area,” he said. “It’s New England comfort food — it’s the stuff you grew up with.”
On a recent Friday evening, preschool teacher Mary Ann Manning and her fiance, youth football coach Brian Carlow, both of Savoy, sat at the bar and perused the menu together.
“Usually, I’m in my pajamas by 5 p.m. on a Friday night,” Manning said. But, she added, “This is my favorite place.”
Carlow called the Opa Opa A-10 Warthog beer “the best beer going” and already knew he’d be ordering the roasted turkey dinner.
“We come down here all the time,” he said.
Sullivan said he’d like to see the business continue to grow as a place where more people come to dine, drink and find comfort. In addition to its restaurant and bar, The Brewmaster’s Tavern hosts events in its private dining rooms twice a week, and it’s also tapping into the craft beer craze by offering growlers and tasting flights.
“We have a beer garden outside that can seat up to 50 people,” Sullivan said. In the summer, The Brewmaster’s Tavern brings out the grill and hosts live music every Thursday night.
“I would love to attract a younger crowd,” Sullivan said. “To make it a home for them.”
Elodie Reed is a freelance journalist living in Williamstown.