26 January 2007

"We serve what I like"

These words from David Queisser make a worthy mantra for everyone when talking about your profession and your business. If you don't believe in the product, how can you expect to successfully sell it?

David and his girlfriend/business partner Michele Kofski own and operate Locals Only, a "music and art pub" at 56th Street and Keystone. It is an impressive, off the beaten path establishment that welcomes locals and not-so-locals from all walks of life. There's a stage in one corner of the bar, offering live music of all sorts. The work of local artists hang on the walls. There's a pinball machine and pool table for those that want activity. And a mix of booths, tables and chairs, bar stools, and couches so that you can find a comfortable place to sit, no matter your style. There is also a TV or two for your sports watching pleasure.

They have a nice menu of food items, but being a HBG, I wasn't there for the food. I was there for the beer. And they have one helluva beer menu. I believe I counted around 65 bottled beer varieties along with 11 taps and 13 domestic beers for your pleasure. Enough brew to keep any booze hound trying something different everyday for a couple of months.

What's also great about their beer menu is the number of beers and breweries on the menu that I had never heard of. The standards on many local beer menus (Bell's, Three Floyd's, Unibroue, etc.) were absent here. And that's okay. A good percentage of the 65 beers available seemed unique to Locals Only, at least as far as I've seen.

It was just us guys tonight. The ladies dumped us. I'm having flashbacks to high school. Everybody warmed up differently. I arrived late, so I only had one warm up beer before we headed into the featured presentation. Locals Only had some Mishawaka Brewing Company beers listed on their chalkboard, so I opted for the Seven Mules Kick-Ass Ale.

After pouring through the beer menu, we opted for the Stone Ruination IPA, a 22 ounce American Double IPA that goes for $10. The big, green bottle had a large gargoyle on the front and a very, very long description on the back. It was named Ruination "because of the immediate ruinous effect on your palate." This should be fun!

We poured our beers into snifters and I could immediately smell the abundance of hops. Not quite the punch in the nose that some other hops-centric beers provide, but very pleasant indeed. It poured with a white, foamy head and finished with a golden-red color and a cloudy consistency. It's not surprising that with a 7.7% ABV, the beer leaves a dry feeling in your mouth. There is a tartness to it and some bite, probably from both the large amount of hops and the alcohol. The flavor combination is hard to describe. There is some sweetness to it as well as an earthy component. Somewhere, I saw someone describe a beer as having a pine flavor, and I think you could use that to describe this beer. Having been on a hops and IPA kick recently, I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and would be happy to come back to it. I'm giving it a 4 mug rating.

After we finished the IPA, David treated us to a bottle of Hoogstraten Poorter from Brouwerij Sterkens. I say a bottle because it's easily big enough to be shared, coming in a 750mL ceramic bottle with a flip top. That's the size of a fifth of your favorite liquor. Big bottle. And it costs $21.50 at Locals Only.

Initially, we believed it to be of German decent but were surprised to learn that it was actually Belgian. Flipping open the bottle, we were immediately hit with fruit smells. I mean it's like Carmen Miranda shoved her hat up my nose. Based on the amount of fruit that my nose picked up, I wasn't looking forward to drinking this beer. I figured it would be too much fruit.

We poured the Poorter into tulip glasses. It is a dark beer with a light brown head. We took a drink. Much to our surprise, it was not as overwhelmingly fruity as we initially predicted. There was a nice maltiness to it, with just a hint of fruit, perhaps cherry or berry of sorts. But not annoyingly so. Together, the flavor components formed a simple but pleasing flavor. It reminds me a lot of La Fin du Monde or perhaps Trois Pistoles by Unibroue, though I prefer the Poorter over the Unibroues. A pleasant beer that gets better with time (and intoxication). I'm giving this beer a 3.5 mugs rating.

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