As you might have noticed, we're a little slow in posting our reviews from last week's roundtable at Spencer's Stadium Tavern. Gina was diligent in getting her review up, but the rest of us have been slackers. Just doing our best to perpetuate the Gen X ethos. Actually, I think I'm probably the only one who's been lazy. Mike is still recovering from some pretty major dental work, and I'm sure that Kelly has been supremely busy with work and putting together her new digs (or should that be "crib"--I never know what new lingo the kids are using these days).
So here I am with my impressions of Spencer's and of the beers we tried. As for Spencer's--I could do without the smoke, but the place is well worth visiting. The menu comes with a number of pub food staples, which Spencer's does quite well. I ordered a basket of waffle fries that were as good as waffle fries can be--crisp, hot, and nicely seasoned. In addition, the beer selection, while small, is first rate. There were three or four microbrews on tap and probably 10 to 15 additional microbrew brands in bottles.
We started with Avery Brewing's Ellie's Brown Ale, a quality offering from the Boulder, Colorado brewery (and sweetly named after the owner's late chocolate Labrador). I like to warm up with an easy drinking beer, and this brown ale was definitely that. A bit hoppier than other browns, Ellie's has a nice blend of caramel, vanilla, and toffee notes. If you're looking for something that is outside the typical brown ale profile, you'd do well to choose this beer.
Our feature beer was Bell's Special Double Cream Stout, which we tried on the recommendation of our very knowledgeable bartender (whose name unfortunately escapes me at the moment--sorry!). This beer, which was offered only in bottles, poured with a black coffee color and very little head. The nose on the Special Double Cream Stout has to be the most complex of any beer that we've reviewed (or that I've tried, for that matter). I definitely got the bizarre ashtray smell that Gina detected, but I also could smell molasses, pepper, raisins, coffee, licorice, and a yeasty odor that many Belgian ales give off. I must admit, however, that I was a little disappointed by the flavor. I let the beer sit and warm in anticipation of a wonderful explosion of taste. However, I got a predominately pepper flavor. I love my pepper, but I can do without it in my beer. Therefore, I'm going to give the Special Double Cream Stout a 3 mug rating. I can appreciate what Bell's is trying to do here and loved the nose on the beer, but the Special Double Cream Stout just ain't my thing.
To close, I'd like to thank Jason and the Drinking Liberally crew for their hospitality (Spencer's is their HQ) and stimulating political conversation.