When I lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, a tap room opened up downtown. Even I, at the time a proclaimed nonbeer drinker, was excited.
You could go on the business’s Facebook page and see how much of any given keg was left. The atmosphere was that industrial-meets-chic look that’s so popular right now. And the bartenders were friendly. It quickly became a hopping spot.
So when I learned a similar concept had opened up in Baton Rouge in April, I was excited. I’ve become a bit of a beer drinker now (thanks almost exclusively to Abita’s Purple Haze), and I have friends who are without a doubt beer drinkers.
Mid Tap, a self-serve tap room, is part of the growing Arlington Marketplace at the corner of Burbank Drive and Lee Road. I’ve never poured a beer from a tap, but I was ready to give it a whirl. So I got together a crew of my running friends after Happy’s Run Club and headed over.
It works like this: you put a credit or debit card on file with the business when you walk in, and you get a bracelet with a radio-frequency identification chip in exchange to use at the 48 taps. The taps charge by the ounce, so you can try a lot of beer without committing to a whole pint. There’s also a few wine and cocktail taps, which was a pleasant surprise.
The beers are a mix of Louisiana and Texas favorites: Abita, Tin Roof, Urban South, Karbach, etc. Each tap has a screen that has instructions on how to properly pour your beer, what beer it is and, in some cases, a description of the beer. The prices range from 30 cents per ounce to $1.15 per ounce, depending on what you’re drinking.
Mid Tap also has a small food menu, so my companions and I loaded up, ordering the Buffalo cauliflower bites ($9); Kobe beef sliders and Sriracha glaze chicken sliders ($9 for two of each type); the 9-ounce chicken tenders with buffalo ranch and sticky sesame garlic sauces ($9); chicken Sriracha fries ($9); and self-serve s’mores ($7).
For the most part, the food wasn’t that great. The cauliflower bites were breaded but soggy. The sliders were overpowered by their buns (the buns were tasty, just not what you want to be the dominant flavor). The chicken tenders were more like chicken bites and nothing special, although the Buffalo ranch sauce was pleasant but not as hot as a Buffalo sauce should be. The s’mores were strange; instead of graham crackers, they came with churro disks. It was a good idea, flavorwise, but in execution, it made for messy eating.
The fries, however, were delicious — they were recommended by more than one of the friendly employees who gave us our bracelets and took our food order. The fries must have been double fried, because they managed to be crispy even under a lot of of wet ingredients.
The night we were there was Mid Tap’s comedy night (hosted by No Show Comedy), so we got to see a couple local comics do sets in the small space — I’m not going to hold the quality of some of their jokes against Mid Tap. But it became clear even before they started performing that the space did not have good acoustics. It didn’t take a lot of people talking and drinking for the noise to reach an uncomfortable level; maybe it’s the square shape or the high ceilings, but it got loud, fast.
My friends and I eventually moved out to the patio area to escape the noise; there was a speaker out there, so we could still listen to the comic, just a bit more comfortably. The patio looks out on the massive parking lot and busy Burbank-Lee crossroad, but it was nice.
Mid Tap is a unique concept that’s good for Baton Rouge. It’s fun to pour your own beer, even if you, like me, never manage to get a good pour. It has that industrial-chic I mentioned earlier that works so well in these types of spaces.
But it still needs some refinement. When you do the math on the pricing, a pint at Mid Tap is more expensive than what you would pay at most other bars; this is especially hard to swallow when you consider the price doesn’t come with someone pouring that beer for you and that most beers on tap at Mid Tap are widely available in Baton Rouge.
If Mid Tap were to ship in beer you can’t readily get in Baton Rouge — beers from craft breweries in California, Oregon, even Alaska — then customers might not feel like they’re paying too much for a beer they could get for much cheaper at the Rouses quite literally a short walk away.
660 Arlington Creek Centre Blvd., Suite D
4 p.m. to 10 p.m Sunday through Wednesday; 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday; 3 p.m. to midnight Friday; 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday
(225) 663-6800; midtapbr.com
Pros: Unique, fun concept in cool space with friendly staff; the per-ounce concept allows for easy sampling
Cons: Bad acoustics; high prices; mediocre food