Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Perfect Pub

There is something about being in the right watering hole. You actually feel it the moment you walk in the door. The atmosphere, like a dense fog, envelops your every sense. The comfortableness hits you smack dab in the middle of the face and you know you are exactly where you need to be. But what makes the perfect pub? Is it the material wood, brick and morter? Is it the people who work there? The people who drink there? The beer they serve?

Yes, I say. Yes.

To me the ideal bar, pub, tavern is not a hit or miss combination of the above, but an exact science. An astrological lining up of the planets in a precise way that creates the perfect drinking and living experience. I have been to many a pub where the establishment shined in one or two of the criteria. For instance, the bartender is awesome in one bar. In another, it is the people there that make the evening. While yet another, the choice of beer provides enough excitement to make coming back an event to look forward to. Rare is the place that has all of that. When you find it, you stick with it and you pray to God that nothing bad ever happens to it. Isn't that what Sam Malone and the fellows at Cheers had?

My ideal pub is sort of on the dive side, sort of. I like my pub to be darker, not bright and airy. I like to be shocked when I walk outside into the daylight, sort of like Dracula when he has been up to long. Give me wood walls, mixed with some old fashioned brick, old wood fixtures, a long mahogany bar with a brass rail. Old antique memorabilia hanging on the walls. Not the stuff that is meaningless to everyone, like at a Friday's, but stuff that has meaning to someone. Someone like the bar owner, the workers or even the patrons. Give me a working fireplace to take the chill off in the winter and provide that homey feel. Provide me with comfort food, typical stuff like well done hot wings, a big homemade beef cheese burger, piles of fries and a pot of beef chili. And the not so typical stuff. The stuff you might not eat at home but crave every now and then, stuff like a thick liverwurst and onion sandwich or a grilled cheese and tomato on whitebread.

Stick a tube up there somewhere, so if I happen to be at the bar and the game is on, I can catch it. Even more importantly, so I can watch the 9000th showing of John Wayne in the Quiet Man. Forget the radio, an old fashioned juke box with an eclectic variety of songs from across the board will suit me just fine. Classic rock, country, blues, big band, 70's corney AM pop, lay it on me. And while your at it, make sure a copy of last week's newspaper is laying on the bar, any day will do, I haven't read it yet. If there is room, a pool table couldn't hurt, a dart board is a must and shuffleboard would be nice.

When I sit at the majestic bar top, the publican calls me by name, and asks what it is I'll be drinking tonight. I don't expect him or her to know my drink, because I am not a man of one. I am a man with moods. That being said, my tap selection needs to have a quality lager or pilsner, Guinness, an ale on the bitter side, something else with a kick to my tastebuds like an IPA and then lastly, a seasonal rotation. I'm not asking for too much, am I? And while I am asking, please also have a nice bottled selection so that if I want a Belgium or a Barleywine I can endulge my mood.

Lastly, let my friends be there, if they're not, I'll make new ones. I'm not leaving this place.

The Beers

This time around I spontaneously reviewed a few beers with my friends at a Friday night happy hour on my back porch. I give to you a drunken review, uncensored.

Urthel Hop-it: "A superior hoppy Belgium Ale." The beer poured, "holy cloudy", it looks like it has a Yeast Infection, with just a hint of Sea Monkey's floating in it. The yeast is alive! No hop smell, yeasty. !st taste is very bitter. This beer was too busy. It tried to be a Belgium Ale and an IPA at the same time. The bottle's advertising was very catchy. Made you want to buy it, but this beer was trying to be too many things.

Weyerbacher, Double Simcore IPA: This beer poured a bodacious head, like a high priced Madison Avenue hooker. Great head, very thick. Dark copper hue. Sweet hoppy smell. Bitter after taste, like biting into a grapefruit rind. Seductive in a non-threatening way. 9.0% alcohol. A quality beer.

General Lafayette Inn & Brewery, Hefeweizen: Nice, straw color, strong head. Sweet, slight fruit smell, light bodied, taste of cloves. A perfect summer session beer. Great to have a growler full on the beach. One of the best Hefes out there. Drank a lot of this beer this summer.

OK, my finale. Never let a friend finish their beer first and then tell him to go help themselves to your fridge, because if he does, he may come back out with an open bottle of Hoegaarden Grand Cru that you purchased in Belgium 5 years ago and were saving for a special occasion.

Hoegaarden Grand Cru: All I can say is that when you divide 12 0z three ways, you don't get to have too much. The 4 oz I had was completely awesome. A mellow taste with 8% alcohol made the 4 oz dribble one of the more enjoyable beers that I will never get hold of again.