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Bent Rail Brewpub

Westfield, WI

 

Crusin' Rating: C+

Booze Rating: C-

 
Crusin For Booze- Wisconsin Blogger- Bent Rail Brewpub

This week we are visiting a little spot that took us by surprise! What we thought was going to be a standard chain experience steeped in mediocrity ended up being a very welcoming, down-home spot with plenty of friendly faces. Welcome to Bent Rail Brewpub!


Over the years, I had been up to Wausau dozens of times and I always knew Westfield, Wisconsin as the halfway point when driving North from Madison. There’s a little strip mall with a gas station, a subway, burger king, and a little gift shop. Nothing really out of the ordinary there as far as mid-trip-stops go, right? Hannah and I had been out exploring the Portage area when we decided to push through the extra 20 minute drive to a place that promised food and beer because we were starving.


We pulled up to this little strip mall that I immediately recognized. I figured the brewery might have opened in the gift shop, assuming an opportunistic buyout amidst the pandemic. However, we discovered a new structure that housed an Arby’s and a sign that read Bent Rail Brewpub. Our hopes were not high at all. I expected chain food a la Mr. Brews with various pub burgers and beers coming second, with maybe one or two of their own make if I was lucky. Whatever, we were both hungry so we figured we’d at least eat.


Inside we found bright walls, a small bar that seats maybe six, and then a dining area flooded with light from the windows. Without the bar, this place felt like a breakfast joint, and I couldn’t quite nail down why. Perhaps it was the cash register near the door, perhaps that Easter Yellow shade on the walls. It was open, clean, and the staff were very friendly. I saw a few tanks through a window in a small room behind the bar and felt a little relief starting to set in. Still, expectations were not high as you know our past experiences with brewpubs (Commerce St. being the exception). The menu was nothing to write home about with nothing that jumped out but a special of the day: a burger, fries and complimentary chili was perfect for Hannah. I opted for a build-your-own panini which was a little outside of standard fare.

*Disclaimer, had we known they make the pizza dough by hand every day, we absolutely would have had pizza.

Hannah enjoyed her burger and said it tasted nice and juicy. I enjoyed my sandwich. A little small, but the chicken tasted real and the spinach and mushrooms were definitely fresh. I would highly recommend requesting mayo or something if you order one, as a pressed sandwich can get a little dry. My own fault there.


Anyway, our server was incredibly attentive and chatty and the food was yummy. While we did get some complimentary tasters of beer during the meal, we were so famished we forgot to take many notes on them. After eating we went to sit at the bar wherein an incredibly friendly semi-regular, Dennis, bought us a round while we chatted away the afternoon while taking notes.



Bent Rail only had three beers being produced due to supply chain issues but I can tell you that regardless of taste, they are affordable. A pint will run you five bucks, and a 20 oz will run you $6.50. While the 5 oz. tasters are $2.00 each, in line with our average price. Even if you’re not in love with the beer, it might be an affordable place to enjoy an afternoon if you’re in the area. They do have wine from a few Wisconsin Wineries and feature some other beers, but there are no cocktails at the bar, sorry Chuck.


BRB Sunset Express Irish Red (5.93% ABV) - This Irish Red turned out to be a light golden rather than red and overly sweet both on the nose and in the taste. I expected a little sweetness but this was sweet enough that Hannah enjoyed it from the first sip. There was a low amount of carbonation and some biscuity-graininess which is typical of the style but the lack of amber color and the overly sweetness made this a sort of miss for the style it was. It was an easy-drinking beer, but I would hesitate to call it an Irish red.


Faye’s Belgian Manifest (5.2% ABV) - This Belgian Pale was the correct color to start, a cloudy copper, although the style is typically higher clarity with low carbonation. It smelled full of Christmas spices, plum, and bubblegum. The flavor featured that sweetness with some plum and Christmas punch. Hannah and I both agreed that this was a fruity beer and again, while it did taste overly sugary sweet, I found it my favorite of the three. Although I enjoyed this beer, I did not find it a perfect example of the style. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable enough to have more than one pint!


Grain Train Cream Ale (5.2% ABV) - We have both become fond of some of these cream ales and it’s usually a style that’s a safe bet for even a non-beer enjoyer to drink. This beer was light golden in color with high carbonation and clarity. It tasted light, almost as if you stirred some melted whipped cream into beer and while there were some hop notes in the finish, I wouldn’t say the finish was overly dry or overly hoppy. The only thing that threw me off with this beer was the distinct apple-cider vinegar scent that came with it when putting it to your nose.


Overall, I think this spot could use some polishing up. I was not in love with the open kitchen that, like Second Salem, left you smelling like a cook after a visit. I thought the theme of old railway “Bent rail” was neat but we didn't feel it through out the space. I kept wondering why this brewery wasn’t located in North Freedom with the Railway Museum that we checked out this past summer with Hannah’s family. It turns out the Head Brewer and Owner had retired from the railroad and still has a passion for trains. We would have loved to see the theme be stronger throughout the space. There were a few decorations, but we wanted them to lean into the them harder, much like Second Salem. Cool theme, but you need to really go for it to sell it.


I liked that the beer was brewed onsite. I liked that they sourced locally, which is what we are all about at Crusin For Booze. I think the beer could use some polishing, too. I think overall the sweetness has to come down across the board. They have some new styles coming out in the next month or so and I would hope those, especially the Stout, don’t stray too far into sweetness.


The space was bright and the staff were attentive and friendly. Dennis really kept us talking and it was nice to connect with someone semi-local (he owns a hunting cabin in the area). I’d say this is a nice spot for lunch if you’re headed up to Wausua. Stop by an grab a beer and pizza. I don’t think I could recommend a trip out here from Madison as it stands, but that may change as they get more experience with their own beer.


Until next time, keep on Cruisin’. Don’t stop boozin’.


To learn more about Bent Rail Brewpub please visit their website at: www.bentrailbrewpub.com

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