Atlantic City's only brewpub will add an expansive wine bar to complement its prime steaks and seafood
A brewhouse in Philadelphia became known not just for the finest beer in the city -- a reputation gained by being built over and utilizing an underground artesian well -- but also for having been the birthplace of the U.S. Marine Corps, the Grand Masonic Lodge, and the Philly cheesesteak.
That establishment, which burned to the ground in the late 18th century, took its name from a measured cask of liquid called a "tun." Its former site, located two blocks from Independence Hall, is slated to house a tributary museum.
In 1998, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Montgomery Dahm established the Tun Tavern at the base of the Sheraton Hotel, and across the street from the newly opened Atlantic City Convention Center. Like its historic predecessor, Dahm's enterprise forged new ground as Atlantic City's first and only brewpub, and like its predecessor ferments the finest beer from an award-winning water supply, Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer.
The Tun Tavern serves six-to-eight home brews on tap at any one time, and currently offers 22 wines by the glass and over 30 by the bottle. All can be paired accordingly with a dining bill of fare that boasts the finest Black Angus beef available, and the freshest poultry and seafood. Its reputation for quality fare has become eminent not just among returning conventioneers but among a local clientele that Dahm estimates to make up about 35 to 40 percent of his business.
"We don't just sit back and rest on our reputation," says Dahm, originally from Abington, Pa. "Complacency is a formula for failure, and you can't be complacent in this market.
"We're constantly looking for ways to improve and satisfy the customer," he adds. "We're expanding our wine bar to include around 60 or 70 bottles, and 30 to 40 served by the glass, through a Vinfinity� system that preserves the life of wine. We're also putting a new $75,000 sign out front and striving to give customers the best products for the best prices. I consider our style 'casual gourmet.' You can get an excellent, full-course meal here for under $30."
Some of the items on the Tun's table fare are prepared with the beers it brews, like its roast beef, au jus gravy and steak sauces. The bread it serves its vast selection of burgers on is even more notorious for tastiness based on the area water supply than its beer. One Tun burger is called the PhD (piled high and deep) and served with "the works" for $8.99. Other popular dishes include the Black & Blue Cowboy, which is a 22-ounce Black Angus steak topped with jumbo lump crabmeat and a blue-cheese sauce, the Salmon Oscar (salmon topped with crabmeat), the chicken and scallop marinara, and a homemade spinach crab dip.
A VIP membership is available that entitles members to discounts and daily specials, including Martini Mondays (half-priced martinis and two-for-one dinner entrees), Two-for-Tuesdays (buy one appetizer, get one free) and Wild Wednesdays ($8 beer pitchers, 35-cent wings, $1 off all bar beverages). Live entertainment takes place every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9pm-1am in a small area by the horseshoe-shaped bar, which seats about 50 and flanks the glass-enclosed brewery room. Over top of the bar are the glass-enclosed fermentation tanks that eventually feed the taps. The Tun brews "seasonal beers" available only during certain times of the year. Group brewery tours are available if arranged in advance.
Current beers available on tap are Tun Light (its biggest seller), Tun Dark, Irish Red, Devil Dog Pale, Honey Brown Ale, Ginger Brew and American I.P.A. (India Pale Ale). Patrons can purchase "growlers" (gallon-sized glass containers) of their favorite beers, then bring the empties back for a $10 refill. Some brews are aged in whiskey casks, which is becoming increasingly popular among breweries and adds a unique flavor to the product, according to second-year Tun brewmaster Tim Kelly.
"Tun Light is a light, golden ale that goes well with a variety of food like fresh fish or poultry," says Kelly. "If you're having hot, spicy chicken wings, you might go for an I.P.A. to stand up to the spice of the food. We can recommend beers that go well with everything we serve."
As the Atlantic City region’s first, and still only, full-scale brewpub and restaurant, the Tun Tavern has always managed to nicely incorporate those house-made beverages into its bill of fare. Brewmaster Tim Kelly elaborates on this process, saying “I’m generally here as a resource for chefs. I’m an ingredient.”
One of southern New Jersey’s ... heck, one of the East Coast’s foremost authorities on all things beer, Gary Monterosso, was joined by a packed house of local and national brewing and culinary personalities Tuesday night, Nov. 29, at House of Blues’ Foundation Room.
"We’ll have over 40 breweries from around the United States — from Maine to Florida to Texas, California, Washington, and of course the great states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania will be represented."
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