27 June 2012

KOTBR #142: Two at La Margarita Fountain Square

Does this sound familiar: Mike, Gina, Jim, and I... Sitting at a bar in Fountain Square... Being (playfully) harassed by the bartender... Poring over a beer menu, trying to figure out what to review. If we were five years younger, 500 feet south, and there was a chihuahua humping the taps tower, it would be like the old days at Deano's Vino. Except Mexican. So La Margarita de Deaño?

We selected two draft beers that I had not had before. Victory Headwaters Pale has a nice collection of hops, is very clean and crisp with a thin mouthfeel and no lingering flavors or feel. I would order this again, especially when it is the beer special of the day. 3.75 Mugs.

Brooklyn Gold Standard Export is effervescent and light yellow with a sweet nose from the malts, a light mouthfeel and subtle flavors. It is fine but not anything I would search out. 2.71 Mugs.

At the risk of sounding like your grandpa, I'd like to bring up that there was a time before you could get good beer everywhere in Indianapolis. We started this site with the quest to find great beer among our goals, and back then we'd be happy to find a tap or two to work with.

Now better beer is everywhere. If you're eating at an Indianapolis restaurant that doesn't have a beer that makes you happy, leave, and never come back. A restaurant without any decent beer choices is willfully ignorant, and doesn't deserve your money.

Yet with the proliferation of better beer comes stagnation - you can count on the same 3 styles (cream ale/lighter beer, pale ale, something darker) pretty much everywhere. Don't get me wrong - I love our locals. I love pale ale. But variety is why we started drinking craft beer.

Give us variety!

Variety isn't easy. Variety takes knowledge. If you're already selling all the Sun King or Flat12 you can buy, why buy anything else?

Luckily there are folks that just love beer. Jon Carlos Rangel at La Margarita is one such individual. Despite being a fan of Mexican football, Rangel knows his stuff, and keeps a steady but varying supply of styles and breweries flowing through La Margarita's taps.

After my minor tirade, you might be surprised to learn that you're about to read a review of a pale ale. But it's not one you'll stumble across everywhere. Victory Headwaters Pale is a summer-weight, easy drinking pale that you could pound if you wanted to. I'm not advising pounding beer, but it's nice to have the option. It's a pale ale that has everything you're looking for, with a bitterness that bites the middle of the tongue and doesn't let go. The flavor lingers with a spicy sort of kick.

It's not the most balanced pale ale, but the bitterness isn't overwhelming. While hops can amplify spicy dishes, in this case these meld nicely with La Margarita's complimentary salsas. 3.75 mugs.

As proof of La Margarita's dedication to beer, our second selection was a bit more rare. Brooklyn's Gold Standard is from the New York brewery's Brewmaster's Reserve Series - a lager in the German Kellerbier style.

Beers in the Kellerbier style are generally not filtered, allowing the yeast to remain suspended in the beer. Gold Standard has a light front, bitter middle, lingering but light bitterness, and a finish on the dry side. To be honest, there's not a lot going on there.

But it was different. 2.79 mugs.

And now, a message from our sponsors...

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So let me tell you about this little watering hole in Fountain Square called La Margarita. The name of the joint made it rather obvious to me that I needed to stop there during my last tour date in Indy. Not only did I find my lost shaker of salt at La Margarita, I found some great suds there as well. They have this tasty pale ale called Victory Headwaters. You know I'm a citrus expert because of my copious consumption of limes. Well, Victory Headwaters is loaded with citrus flavors, I think due to the hops, rounded out by a nice malty sweetness. I can't believe I'm gonna say this, but I urge you to chuck that Landshark Lager and take one of these puppies to the beach with you!

Now I ain't no Kraut, but I do enjoy a good German style beer from time-to-time. So that's where Brooklyn's Golden Standard Export Kellerbier comes in, which is also on tap at La Margarita. This baby is smooooooth, let me tell you. It's nice, light, and a little sweet, kind of like the royalty checks that still roll in every month from the sales of my book Tales from Margaritaville. So the next time you're relivin' the 'late 70s and early '80s on your catamaran in the Gulf of Mexico, you won't go wrong with a Brooklyn Golden Standard Export.

Folks, the next time you're in Indy, get on down to La Margarita. And don't forget to pick up a brand new copy of my second autobiography, A Pirate Looks at Fifty Shades of Grey.

Victory Headwaters Pale: 4.25 mugs.
Brooklyn Gold Standard Export Kellerbier: 3.60 mugs.

Beers are always better when shared with friends. Even more when soccer is on TV. Exponentially so when chips and salsa are involved. So, thanks to Euro 2012, Mike and I have been at La Margarita three times in the past week. The food is great, the tequila selection is amazing, and Jon always keeps a stellar craft beer list.

Let me talk about those chips and salsa for a minute. There is something about tortilla chips at a restaurant. Something about these warm and crispy chips can not be replicated at home. Maybe it shouldn't be. It seems like the whole basket is gone before we know it, which is easy to do with the THREE salsas provided. Because I am a huge wuss when it comes to spicy heat, I usually hoard the avocado loaded pico de gallo. Not to say the other two aren't good, but I can't say no to avocado.

Now, the beers.

Sometimes it is hard to give words to beers. Sometimes you are just sitting there, drinking and chatting and the next thing you know is that the beer is three quarters gone. You drank it without thinking about it, without processing what you tasted. I kind of love when that happens even though it makes it difficult to write about. Every beer doesn't have to be earth shattering. Victory Headwaters Pale was good, balanced, and obviously had a pleasant flavor. I'm more than OK with that. 4.3 Mugs.

Now, juxtapose that with the next beer, Brooklyn Gold Standard Export Kellerbier. I felt that I had to work for this one, dissect it, break it down by its components to figure out how the different flavors and textures mingle together. In the end, I liked it. There was a sweetness sandwiched between a herbal bitterness. Maybe I should have had the beers in reverse. 3.0 Mugs.

Final KOTBR Scores
Victory Headwaters Pale
Jason: 3.75 Mugs | Mike: 3.75 Mugs | Jim: 4.25 Mugs | Gina: 4.3 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 4.01 Mugs

Brooklyn Gold Standard Export Kellerbier
Jason: 2.71 Mugs | Mike: 2.79 Mugs | Jim: 3.6 Mugs | Gina: 3.0 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.02 Mugs

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