Jay Allen Sanford 4:30 p.m., Dec. 24
Clem's Tap House
Clem's, Kensington's package store of record, opened up a tasting room a little while back to showcase the store's selection of fine wines beers. In the back corner of the plaza along Adams Ave, the tasting room has a spare, elegant feel that might be more at home in a NorCal vineyard than an Uptown neighborhood. But that's kind of cool. The designers eschewed the "quasi-Euro public house" look for something a bit more modern that seems to imply moderation and tasteful drinking.
Because of how it's licensed, i.e. it's not a bar, the tasting room can't just sell a pint of beer or a glass of wine. What it can do, is sell flights. Clem's has some interest in acquiring a license to operate as a regular bar, but for now it's all about the flights. With four different beer flights and flights of wine both red and white, there's ample opportunity to taste the best that Clem's has to offer. Priced at $8-$10, the flights contain about as much beer or wine as you would get for that price in a regular bar. The beer flight seem to have some logic to their composition, one was high alcohol, the other Belgian, a third showcased Port brewing, and the fourth was lighter beers.
There's no kitchen at the tasting room, but hungry visitors are encouraged to run over to Burger Lounge and nab something to go. Clem's original liquor store also has a deli inside and they make some pretty tasty sandwiches, which would be the most low-cost alternative.
Sitting inside Clem's, working my way through Flight #4 and munching on a cashews and a ham sandwich, I was surprised by how refreshingly unlike a bar the tasting room was. I felt less inclined towards over-indulgence and more inclined towards thoughtful contemplation of the artisan product filling the tiny glasses in front of me. It was quiet inside--despite the obnoxiously loud party on the patio--and I think that for a quick, social libation Clem's might have a very good formula.
4100 Adams Avenue