Dave Rice 7:20 a.m., May 24
Strong Beer: We Have A Winner…
Don’t blink. You’re passing the champion pub you never noticed
I just about did pass this by, even after I noticed the funny beer signs.
It's right by the bus stop at 6th and Broadway
Then, guess I got drawn in by the fact that you could see the place was rockin’. And the giant brass-copper-stainless working vats they have in the window of this old building,
Couple sitting next to the working vats
So I find a spare stool up at the bar next to this guy in a Padres teeshirt. Notice he’s sipping a dark ale, slowly, like it’s really good.
“Bourbon cherry stout,” he says. "Here. Have a taste.”
I do. It’s…wow. Kinda delicious. Cherry, whisky, beer. And so smooth I’d swear it’s on nitro, like Guinness, not Co2 carbonated.
This is when Angie the waitress comes up...
Angie, a little later, with my drink
...You can see, she’s working at 500 mph with this crowd. I point to Art’s drink.
“Look under ‘Night of the Barrels,’” she says. “There’s our gold medal winner there too.”
She leaves the beer menu.
So I see Art’s cherry stout. It’s strong, 9.5 percent, and $7 for the 12-ounce.
Then down further, it says “Manhattan Project,” 9 percent, and - whack! - $8 for 6 ounces. But it does say it's a GABF gold medal winner.
Wow. Great American Beer Festival. You expect Pizza Port, or Stone, or Ballast Point, but this great session-drinking barn, winning?
Turns out I’ve been kinda subconsciously dissing this place just because it’s a drinking/eating trap on Broadway and not in some dinky corner up in Kearny Mesa somewhere.
Now I’m reading: GABF 2012: The Manhattan Project, Gold Medal for Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer, The Beer Company, 602 Broadway, San Diego.
Says it’s Scotch ale plus cherry purée aged for four months in a barrel that’s been used to age already-mixed Manhattan cocktails (rye whisky, vermouth, bitters). Aging cocktails in barrels is the new rage, seems, borrowed from the dawn of the Cocktail Age, 100 years ago.
Huh. This is all new to a simple Arrogant Bastard boy like me. But only six ounces? We're talking sipping not quaffing.
Whatev, I order one.
And while I'm waiting, try to figure out the name.
Oh right. It’s a combo of the Manhattan cocktail and the Manhattan Project, the WW2 project that created the nuke bomb.
Angie brings it, in a small round Chimay glass. But the taste! Or make that tastes. Kinda chocolate, toffee, cherry, (but less cherry-strong than Art’s), rounded, smooth as silk, almost syrupy. Guess that’s the aging. This is beautiful.
Menu says the brewer's name is Kirk Roberts. That gold medal will put him on the map, for sure. Now I see why Art was sipping. This kind of beer/cocktail/fruit drink you don’t want to hurry.
Because hey, it needs time for you to get to know it, it to get to know you.