A few Sundays ago, between my two-week Appalachian trip and Thanksgiving, my brood visited Broken Bow Brewery in Tuckahoe. We have Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. in our backyard, and given their reputation and larger enterprise, we tend to flock there when we want a local brewery experience. But Broken Bow shouldn’t be neglected; while it’s a little cavernous and the beer quality fluctuates, it’s a cool hangout that allows little ones to run around and big parties to enjoy themselves.
Since becoming a parent, finding a place that’ll cater to children has meant a lot. Breweries generally have space for children, since they need ample room for large tanks and brewing equipment. And even though alcohol is the draw, breweries have trended toward becoming local gathering places. They’re where community members throw fundraisers and small parties. They’re where parents can steal just a couple small minutes while toddlers scatter around cafeteria tables.
Clearly some of that is due to the most recent wave of brewers being, typically, in their late 20s and early 30s. Most of them either have kids or know people very close to them who have kids. So they can’t keep kids out; instead, they embrace the concept of being a gathering place, providing lawn and board games, setting up large tables for group sharing, and leaving generous floor space for kids to crawl and play.
Broken Bow is no different. The first time we visited our daughter Genevieve was no more than two months old. We cautiously carried her around in a car seat, and when she cried uncontrollably (she was deep in the heart of colic), my wife Sarah soothed her in the atrium. Nobody minded. Other adults had older kids around them, so we immediately felt comfortable having a baby in the brewery. When we needed a gentler rest, the leather chairs at Broken Bow were a nice option.
On our most recent visit, Genevieve was just over a year old, and that’s an entirely different person than the one who visited 10 months before. Now Genevieve was walking all over the place, and we kept moving to wrangle and entrap her. Again, no big deal. Other guests either walked around her, paid no attention to her or just said hello. It wasn’t a problem at all that we had a kid there.
All the while Sarah and I played dominoes on the long cafeteria table that dominates the main taproom area. A small bar is set up with taps, and some customers without kids took that area to hang and sample beer. Broken Bow sells merchandise out of that area, and it has cans for sale in two fridges.
A few TVs were showing football, as it was 1 p.m. on a Sunday in November, and a few patrons sat at the counter tops facing the screens. That area also has an old-school Nintendo console, which is a nice draw. Plus there’s an outdoor area with tables and umbrellas, though I’ve yet to be out there because it’s been too cold. The different gathering areas are welcome, as it allows for guests to have different options for conversing. They can be where the action is at the bar, or maybe by the TVs checking out a game, or they can be at the big table or the leather chairs having their own experiences.
As a note, on my visits Broken Bow felt a little darker and moodier inside. There’s little light coming in from outside, so they’re relying on a lot of artificial light, and the brewery leans on black as a primary color with its steel-grate-and-military-typography motif. Maybe your visit is different, but I just love natural light.
Then there’s the beer. Broken Bow has a couple really solid options, while others are decidedly mediocre. My favorite of theirs is Old Split Foot, a Belgian strong ale that balances sweet and malt pretty well. In fact, I feel Broken Bow is best with stronger fare, indicated also by its Russian imperial stout, Broken In. A roasted, possibly nutty beer underscored by a rich licorice character, it’s a really fine example of the style. Also, Nick’s Hazelnut Praline Porter is delicious, malty and full-bodied, closing with a woodsy, buttery nut taste. Can’t go wrong with stouts here, and the red ale – a flagship – is their best session.
Not so hot were the IPAs, which primarily lacked a boldness, whether in hop character or juicy twist. But that’s OK – if I want dead-on IPA character I’ll hit up Industrial Arts. It’s really comforting to have a steady dark-and-strong brewery nearby, and Broken Bow fits that bill.
No original food at Broken Bow, though the brewery welcomes food from other establishments. Also they sell bagged crisps; snag a bag and they can pour them in a big bowl for your snacking enjoyment.
If you want a nice hangout on a lazy weekend afternoon, or you’re a parent looking for a changeup from the Westchester living room, Broken Bow is a great option.
Broken Bow Brewery
Location: 173 Marbledale Road, Tuckahoe, NY
Hours: 5-8 p.m. Thurs., 1-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 1-5 p.m. Sun.