Weymouth’s Union Brewhouse sits in an unassuming building, with an illuminated sign showing a mug of overflowing beer offering the only hint of what lies within.
Yet it wasn’t the unimpressive building that kept me away, or even its somewhat hidden location sitting in a nook on Route 53. I had never been inside because the restaurant is always so busy.
I even avoided the pub on a recent Friday before a long weekend, opting instead for the quiet Monday holiday. Even then, cars lined the parking lot.
It isn’t difficult to see the draw. Union feels at once homey and familiar. Patrons entered as if coming home, shouting greetings to others seated at the bar.
The 17-year-old restaurant is the “Cheers” of Weymouth – everybody knows your name, and everyone has a story.
The tales are even written on the walls. Plaques with witty quips line the rafters like trophies, a testament to all in the “99 Beer Club.” Drink all 99 of the bottled beers the restaurant keeps on hand, join the list of those on the rafters.
“Here’s to you, here’s to me. The best of friends we’ll always be. If we ever disagree, I’ll love you anyways,” one plaque reads.
Many of the accomplished drinkers lament their newly acquired beer guts. Other plaques are simply stories — near the door, a successful marriage proposal plays out in two plaques side-by-side.
Because the choice of bottled beers is constantly changing, there is no traditional beer list. The owners list 99 breweries on the back of the menu, but not the specific beers that come from each.
The available bottles are lined up on the wall behind the bar, but it’s not easy to read them all. I didn’t want to bother our waitress to learn the name of every beer – did I mention there were 99 of them?
The picky eater companion found a list of the beers online, but by then we had ordered brews off the more detailed, and much shorter, draft list. Rather than traverse the options, I had the waitress bring me a bottled beer of her choosing.
Drinks arrived cold and quickly. The appetizers took a bit longer, yet the atmosphere kept us entertained. My head swiveled between the plaques, a case of vintage beer cans, myriad antique beer posters, and several large TVs.
The steak quesadilla ($10) was worth the wait. A massive portion big enough for four to share, the dish featured well-seasoned and tender beef wrapped in a medley of melted cheeses.
The boneless Buffalo fingers ($8) were less impressive. Though the portion was large, the chicken was slightly dry, and the breading less crispy and fluffy than I had hoped. The dish also didn’t please the palate of the picky eater, a connoisseur of all things Buffalo.
Wanting to stick to traditional pub food, we skipped the large soup and salad list and moved on to burgers, settling on the namesake Brewhouse burger ($9).
I’ve never had ham and salami on a cheeseburger, and now feel I’ve been missing out. The saltiness of the salami danced with the smokiness of the ham, adding unexpected textures to a traditional pub favorite. The burger itself was cooked perfectly and flavorful in its own regard.
The Union chicken sandwich ($9) also didn’t disappoint. A large slab of juicy, tender grilled chicken was accompanied by cheddar cheese, bacon, and sweet barbecue sauce.
Yet if I had to choose, I’d go with the Union Pizza ($9). The same sweet barbecue sauce offers a dominating flavor to this dish, which is complemented by the smoky taste of bacon and hamburger. The generous toppings only enhanced the texture of the thin crunchy crust and gooey cheese.
Thick-cut fries were also crave-worthy, though the spicy fries had too much kick for me. The picky eater gobbled them up instead.
We will definitely be trekking back to the Brewhouse. I’d perhaps even be willing to brave the crowds. After all, I want my name on a plaque, too, and I still have 98 bottles to go.Jessica Bartlett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @jessmayb3.