Let the record show that I remained focused on the beer; someone had to keep her wits about her. First things first: some of the beers come in limited supply from small breweries, so count your lucky stars that the likes of Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout and Brother Thelonious have found even a temporary home among the taps. On my most recent visit, Rahr’s Ugly Pug was making an appearance, and as it was a Thursday night, my other companion waltzed home (literally, I’m afraid) with a commemorative glass.
Need an excuse for large-scale messiness? Sign up for the Libertine’s pumpkin-carving contest, which takes place October 25. Sure, there are prizes ($25 to $100 bar tabs, to be specific), but the cartoonish combination of slippery pumpkin guts and boozy hipsters is draw enough for me.
While you’re there, reserve your spot at one of the Libertine’s righteous monthly beer dinners, where five beers are paired with five courses for $50. Hint: the place is limited on tables, so reserve early or suffer the cruel sting of disappointment.
Spillers does that by making sure that Eno’s beer selection is well-edited and adheres to an ethos. “Since we opened the doors two years ago, we’ve served only craft-made beer from microbreweries,” he says. “This type of beer draws people who have an appreciation of quality and an awareness of what they’re putting into their bodies. They’re not just settling for the traditional offerings. Beer is a communal product. It’s something that’s family friendly. It’s elderly friendly. It brings together all different types of people. I think that we should celebrate that.”
Eno’s is the perfect place to enjoy a Franconia Wheat or Deschutes Mirror Pond Ale alongside a Northside pie. Still a novice when it comes to picking an inspired pairing? Ask anyone at the bar for a suggestion. The staff is fun, forthcoming, and eager to help.
One of the early expressions of Meddlesome Moth’s Schlabs-Wynne brain trust, the Flying Saucer expresses a similar community spirit with events like Wednesday Brewery Nights and a more than 60-beer array of $3 drafts on Mondays.
When not physically present, beer knurds stay involved through online swapping of the Saucer’s commemorative glasses (imagine designs like a Lebowski/4:20-themed “The Dude Abides” glass or the cheeky Father’s Day favorite “Octo-Mom doesn’t need a Baby-Daddy”).
What the Flying Saucer lacks in the exterior come-hither department it more than makes up for in good prices, properly assembled
flights, and a full wall of rotating arrivals like Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball and a Real Ale Anniversary cask.
The Alaskan salmon River Rocket sandwich paired with a hybrid USA/Texas flight sent me into a hop-induced reverie. My only explanation is that the marriage of beer and salty salmon inspired a hidebound reminiscence of my early days of road tripping through the Pacific Northwest when microbrewing was on the rise and tightly knit bands of like-minded fermenters planted the seeds of this current renaissance.
If you’re heading out on your own, consider indulging in a Texas flight to get a sense of the best this state has to offer. Groups of friends will love the Holy Grail’s selection of table beers. The Ommegang Three Philosophers, in particular, is a rare treat that’s not easy to lay hands on around these parts.
“We’re not an English pub. We’re not an Irish pub. We’re sort of a Rorschach pub,” Rudolph says. “We’re whatever you want us to be. I kid around with people that we’re an American pub from before Prohibition, back when they didn’t have processed food.”
Keep an eye out for the arrival of the slow boat from Belgium and the long-awaited return of Duchesse de Bourgogne, a sour brown ale and a Rudolph favorite. “It’s an acquired taste,” he says. “I tell people that it has a front end of balsamic vinegar and a finish of sherry and green apples. I love it. When it finally comes back, I’ll be the first one to have it.”
The Ginger Man won me over one Saturday afternoon when, against my waitress’s warning, I ordered a beer that ended up being a stinker, even in my book. After just a couple of sips, I knew I wouldn’t find any pleasure in finishing it. Our waitress saw the look on my face from across the room, made a beeline to the table, and, without judgment, swept it away and returned with a pint of something far more palate friendly. When the check came, there was nary a mention of that early disappointment. It’s rare to find truly intuitive servers and quite another thing for them to care enough to save you from your own transgressions.
The bar regularly offers two cask-conditioned options, but before you dive headlong into that murky sea, ask for the bartender’s opinion and take it to heart when ordering. New beers arrive throughout the month, so relish the impermanence and seize the stein. This is a great place to get to know your local beers (try Rahr Storm Cloud and Franconia Spelt) and embrace the beer garden milieu (swing a stein of Franziskaner Weissbier or Spaten Dunkel).