Friday, March 1, 2013

The Scene: Savage's Ale House

Muncie is an anomaly. 

It has become a beer drinker's paradise, yet does not have a brewery of it's own.  In addition to that, downtown Muncie is away from Ball State's campus and smack in the middle of a manufacturing city recovering from the hard economic downturns of recent years, but it can some how support three quality beer bars.

Savage's Ale House is the newest of the bunch and in three short years, has become a staple of the Muncie community and sports many a beer-loving regular who can easily throw down his $1 PBR while he tells you why you paid too much for that bomber of barley wine.  Savage's has such a good regular crew because of the bar itself.  It feels like you're hanging out in someone's living room.  It's comfortable, inviting and without pretension.

Unlike some bars that bill themselves as "the punk rock bar," Savage's IS a punk rock bar.  One of my favorite things about this place is that the bartenders choose the music, so there's no drunk asshole harshing the mellow by bloating the jukebox with the same song five times in a row.  Also the bartenders operate on the golden rule: "You're an adult, and this is a bar."  If you act like an adult should at a bar, the service is warm and with a smile, but act like an asshole and don't be surprised if your extra wait comes with some snark. 

The owner, Joel Savage, emphasizes a local pub feel.  "Business as usual.  Everyday."  As a native, he understands the community and applies the everyman philosophy to the bar.  Pabst is always $1, except on Mondays, then it's a $3 pitcher.  3 Floyds Alpha King is $3.  In fact, most pints will only set you back $3 to $4, and these aren't shitty domestics.  It is 20 taps of quality.  There's always going to be three 3 Floyds taps and three Bells, but they are constantly rotating and because of Muncie's reputation, they sometimes get treats from breweries, like a keg of Rye'da Tyger.  On top of that, they have a deli case full of bottles and bombers and are always getting new beers.
The food follows the same premise.  Well done pub grub.  A DELCO worker could feel just as home here slamming a $1 PBR and noshing $2.50 biscuits and gravy after a long shift as a hipster quaffing his Bells Two Hearted and inhaling a  tenderloin after a game of bike polo in the parking lot behind the bar.  It's also very satisfying to watch drunk girls tackle the Irish Nachos at 2am, dulling their sparkly blouses with equal parts bacon grease and ranch.

As awesome as all these things are, Savage's success has led to some awkward growing pains.  The cheap, but quality beer attracts a bar crowd.  The cheap, but quality food attracts grey hairs and iced tea drinking penny pinchers.  Both crowds have different expectations from the bar tender, who has to do table service as well as tend the bar.  Most of the time, it's not a problem, but whey they get slammed, which happens more often these days, expect for service to be slowed down by their hybrid restaurant/beer bar system.  The bartenders do their best, but it can be...clunky.

Savage's is one of my favorite bars in Indiana.  Their beer list is amazing and I can have dinner and leave with a $20 tab.  Mind blowing.

I give the Beer List a 5.  Every time I go, they either have my rare favorites, or awesome one-offs from breweries and I have no idea how they got them.

I would give the food a 3.5, but their tenderloin is just that good, so my final verdict is a 4


  1. Best place in Muncie, but it is getting too popular for its space. You go down there at 6 pm for dinner and more likely than not, you will not get a table -- even on Mondays and Tuesdays.

  2. El Duque took me and O-Dawg up to Muncie to see all that is Savages. We had a great time up there. The pork tenderloin was as good as advertised. They had Resin by Sixpionts on tap and a handful of fun beers in bottles. It really was a great spot to grab a craft beer and I would happily return.

    Thanks for introducing us Duque!