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Come As You Are

Join the Mug Club at Brass Monkey

Good beer, great people. What else do ya need?
Kevin and Maria Tworek, Owners of Brass Monkey
Published on February 18, 2011

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The Place

How many times have you heard the phrase “they just don’t make ’em like they used to”? That can go for just about anything these days, including cars, houses, or even friendly neighborhood bars with reasonable prices. Now suppose I told you there’s a place in South Omaha that is exactly how bars once were before this area was overrun with nondescript corporate-type places—only better.

Pull up to Brass Monkey and you will quickly notice that this is an old place. According to owners Kevin and Maria Tworek, the building is more than 50 years old and has housed a bar from the day its doors opened. As it turns out, this building has been more than a bar to the Tworeks; it’s a place where both of their families would come to hang out, and it’s also where Kevin and Maria met many years ago, long before they were married. Brass Monkey is the very definition of “family-owned.”

Brass Monkey

5611 South 36th Street
Omaha, NE 68107

(402) 991-4920

11 am to 1 am

38 Beers on Tap!

There’s room for about 60 people inside the bar and room for another 80 outside. Take a close look at the tables around the bar—they’re made from the old doors of Omaha’s Bryan High School. What you are more likely to notice, though, are the many different types of beer on tap. Looking around from your comfortable bar stool, you will also notice 15 TVs surrounding the bar, so that no matter where you sit, there’s always a good viewing angle for sporting events. Dartboards and a jukebox take over on the nights when there isn’t a band or DJ to keep you entertained. The only problem I’ve ever had at Brass Monkey is deciding which craft beer I should order first.

The Beer

Let’s cut to the chase on what sets Brass Monkey apart from just about any other bar in the area: its incredible hand-crafted beer selection poured from 38 different taps. What’s even better is that the beer selections are always changing. As Kevin puts it, they select “beer by committee” and are always willing to take a customer’s advice on what beer to have on tap next.

Craft beer selection at Brass MonkeyCraft beer selection at Brass MonkeyFor all the beer snobs in Omaha, here’s just a taste of what has been on tap recently: Scottish cask ale (in an honest-to-goodness UK-style cask), Ten Pin Porter, Spaten, Tetley’s English Ale, Abita Turbo Dog, Delirium Tremens, Sam Adams Winter Lager, Great Divide Hibernation Ale, Blue Moon, Left Hand Milk Stout, Leinenkugel’s Fireside Nut Brown, Lucky Bucket IPA & Lager, Hoegaarden, Erdinger Hefeweizen, Lucifer, Cornstalker Dark Wheat, Guinness, Nebraska Brewing Hefeweizen, and Winter Bourdon Cask Ale. Not sure where to start? Ask the staff. Not only will they make recommendations, but they will let you try a sample or two as well.

But this is not just a place for the hop-heads to hang out. Kevin and Maria make sure to keep all their customers happy, especially the ones who have been coming for decades. Which means you can still order a Grain Belt or Miller High Life for $1 on nights when there are drink specials. Check out Brass Monkey on Facebook to find out more info on their weekly specials.

Behind the Scenes

Let’s face it, not many people think of South Omaha when they are looking for a place with great craft beer selections. In fact, most people thought that the Tworeks were crazy for adding all the various taps to the bar a few years ago. So, just to prove their critics wrong, Kevin and Maria went right ahead and added numerous craft beers to an Omaha “dive” bar, even though no one thought it would be a lasting proposition. Let’s just say the critics could not have been more wrong.

38 Beers on Tap!38 Beers on Tap!The crowd here is described by the Tworeks as “colorful,” and I know that first hand. This is still a place where you can have a beer or two with a guy named “All Day” Joe or a grandmother out for a few drinks. Take a seat at the bar and you can be flanked by a biker on one side and a professional office worker on the other. No need to feel intimidated when you come here. During my first trip to Brass Monkey (for their two-year anniversary party), I was made to feel like a long-time regular in less than 10 minutes.

Brass Monkey does not have a kitchen, but that does not mean that they don’t have food on occasion…for free. The Tworeks look for any reason to have a party at their bar and always seem to have free food for all to enjoy. While I was watching a Husker game there last fall, we were all treated to free smoked turkey, and everyone was encouraged to bring a side dish. Just so we’re all clear, the bar provided the main course and the customers provided the “pot luck” food. Where else does this even happen any more?

And don’t forget to sign up for the Brass Monkey punch card when you’re there. After your 36th draft beer (not all in one night, please) you are given a half-liter mug that gets you reduced prices whenever you use it during their “Mug Club” parties (they will fill up your mug for $2). Not yet a member of the Mug Club, I have usually paid $2.50 for a pint of craft beer. Let me just say this—if you can find a better selection or beer at a better price, I would be highly shocked.

Final Thought…

As I wrote in my review of the Brass Monkey on Hit That Dive, I love this bar! If you’re the type who likes to drink great beer in a bar that has tons of character (as well as a ton of characters), you owe it to yourself to make a trip here. Oh sure, there may be a few more beers at a place like Old Chicago, but why give money to a corporate bar when you can belly up to one of the area’s best kept secrets? Places like Brass Monkey are far too rare these days, which truly makes this place a one-of-a-kind Omaha original.

Gates_DiveI am willing to risk life and liver as I venture into some of the country's biggest dives, dumps and gin joints to answer that age-old question..."should I hit that dive?

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