Cask Republic: The Food is as Good as the Beer

It seems like everyone in town knows Cask Republic on Crown Street has an amazing  beer selection. But, try as he might, man can’t live by beer alone, and Cask Republic makes sure to provide tasty bites to complement their tasty drink.

Cask Republic was opened in January 2010 by Christian Burns, who owned the Gingerman restaurants in three states that focused on high-end beers. Burns expanded the restaurant group to include Cask Republic, first in New Haven and more recently in Stamford.

The restaurant offers two menus – one food, the other beer. The beer menu changes up to five times a week, the food menu a little less often. Lagers, pilsners, bocks, pale ales, India pale ales, whites, wheats, Belgians, ambers, browns, barley wines, porters and stouts. Bottles or on draft, they have a dizzying selection. There are 53 draft lines alone, including nitro beers (think Guinness, with its thick, creamy head), and at least one cask-conditioned ale at a time.

Every international brewery has been represented at Cask Republic, says manager Pericles Rountos. Craft beer from around the world is on offer every day. The restaurant likes to match the beer to the current special dishes with an eye toward seasonality. Summer is coming so emphasis is on lighter beers such as ales and pilsners. Come cooler weather it’s the heartier porters and stouts.

The restaurant’s culinary director is Carl Carrion. The son of a hardware store owner in Brooklyn, NY, Carrion started at a friend’s restaurant at age 19, in the front of the house (bussing, waiting, managing). It was great training. He’d fill in for anyone who was out – in the kitchen, or bar-tending, or managing – whatever needed doing. On he went to the New York Restaurant School, then working at Aquavit with Marcus Samuelsson, Union Pacific with Rocco DiSpirito,  and then to Patria as sous chef. The Max Restraurant Group in Hartford was his home for six years. He came to New Haven to work at Barcelona, f and then opening Cask Republic for Christian Burns in January 2010.

Asked to describe the food, Carrion says, “We do a mix. It’s kind of gastropub, world cuisine mix fusion. It’s not limited to anything really. We use a lot of beers. Where the norm would be to use wine and stocks and sauces, we use beer. It is very technique-oriented.  We’ve used beer in marinades, sauces and stocks where you think beer would not go, and it works.”

Carrion continues, “It’s fun to do something different. We’ve been doing beer dinners since we opened here. I’ve done 15 or 20 since I have been here. They’re not over the top, they’re super homey. You’d think, ‘Wow, I wouldn’t think this works,’ like octopus and beer — yeah, it works!”

Mara Lavitt •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Restaurant Website: http://caskrepublic.com/

• The Detes: 179 Crown St., New Haven. 475-238-8335. Open seven days. Kitchen hours: Monday through Thursday and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. The bar closes three hours later and there is a late-night bar menu.

• Price Range:  Small plates $6-13, large plates $11-27, sides as well as dessert $5-8.

• Style of Food:  World gastropub

• Favorite dishes: Cask Republic burger, short-rib meatballs, curried chick-pea fritters, soy-glazed wings.

• Favorite beers: Fuzzy Baby Ducks, Hannsen Oudebeitje, Rodenbach Grand Cru, Nebraska, Stone

• Drinks: beer, beer, beer, plus a full bar

• Vegetarian/Vegan/Gluten-free: yes

• Events: yes

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