Tonight, tonight

I’m too busy-weirdly-to get a proper local in. So I’ll do it tomorrow. Promise.

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When you deserve a beer

The business I work at has been in the process of moving which means I’ve spent many, many days hyperactively packing, toting, labeling, and generally doing work that is more physically demanding than I am used to. It’s been especially challenging because I’m still very new to the job but have stepped into a bit more responsibility. Growing pains and all that–nothing serious, mind you, just long days where new parts of me ache.

So it was that after a day of packing I went ’round the corner to The Beermongers and had a pint. One I felt I was owed by the Universe, if you will.

The Beermongers is an interesting space; a place that sells beer and serves it in equal measure. Yet it feels open when you walk in, more casual and relaxed than a store. There’s only one television and there are seats to ignore it. But if you’re interested; hockey is on-and that’s already awesome.

In order of coolness, sports I want to see on the TV when I go into a bar: hockey, football, everything  else sucks hippo balls.

I was in for a special treat this day, however. I walk into the bar and a tall, lanky, bespectacled man behind the bar greeted me with a grin saying, “Better give this guy good service-he’s a blogger.”

He introduced himself as Josh, who co-brews with the fellow who runs Beer Around Town, a blog I’ve been reading a bit more because as homebrewers, they confront some of the issues I do while brewing. And as it turns out, he recognizes me from this blog-which is a really nice boost at the end of a long day.

He’s also super-nice and we easily fell into conversation between his pouring of beers and my drinking them. He gave me some suggestions to help me with carbonation and I’m going to try some of them (stirring the beer when I add bottling sugar) but am more reluctant to others (putting the beer into a bottling bucket and then bottling because I’ll be using so much water! and I really try to be conscious about this.)

Shortly after that I met a Scot who told me he installed the bar and a woman who was a former OBC member, and we talked about being social, brewing, and…well, bar talk. The kind you can do with strangers in the right environment.

So I pretty much recommend the Beermongers, not only as a place to purchase beer for your home (which it clearly needs) but also as a place to sit and drink a beer. The atmosphere is casual, the space loose, and it’s an easygoing spot.

(I forgot to write down what beer I got to drink though. D’oh!)

20% of foam is beer

esb/ipa blend

Or so I’ve been told. Which is a really good thing because my latest ESB/IPA mixture has come out…foamy.

It’s still a good beer. Nice malt presence, hops are there in the nose initially-but not so much on the finish. Granted, this is because it’s too effervescent but at least there’s a reason.

And that reason has been bothering me all damned year. I just can’t get the carbonation to behave consistently in the beers that I brew. In this case, the foam just wipes out anything on the palate beyond the initial sweetness and that detracts from what I want to do with this beer.

Back to the drawing board.

The Local: Egyptian Room

egyptian roomThe nice thing about The Local is that despite my car being stolen, I can still engage in this exercise. So I head out to the Egyptian Room.

I walk in and I can’t figure out what’s on draft. The taps are hidden against a black wall, and when I sit at the bar I feel like I should be in a hurry to figure out what to drink.

The Simpsons is on; auto kudos. But every time I come into the Egyptian Club I feel like I’ve entered Swamp Thing’s Blue World. The lights are tinted so everything feels drenched in blue light and let’s face it, I don’t belong here. More than the sports bars or the vanity projects, this place is not for me. Nothing personal, it says, we just don’t care.

That’s not to say that the Egyptian is a bad or somehow an inferior bar. There’s Session in the bottle, Mirror Pond and Hefe to drink, the wall-o-hol is pretty extensive. It’s big, so you can find a place to hide and talk, or play pool if you like. There’s a maze-like quality here, where I feel I can get lost. Hell, you can watch the Simpsons. I feel like I could end it there and everyone just ought to get it.

The best bars do this. Either through home-replacement or by design or winks-and-nods, they let you shift from one face to another, liquid sex to aloof hipster, gawky reader to punchline master. That chance to bring out a new genie in a shelter is why we leave the house. Or why I leave the house. A chance to have an adventure without the dangers of being lost. A way to have the familiar while smiling at the strange.

Still. The wise man knows when he is out of his element, knows when to tip and move on. It’s time for me to fly.

The Local: Side St. Tavern

side street tavernI walk in as a Yankee hits the winning home run at the bottom of the 11th against Boston. I seem to have a knack for appearing at the exact moment of triumph. A long haired mustachioed Yankee fan repeatedly slaps his hands together in astonishment and joy, while Hall and Oates’ “Out of Touch” comes on. He complains that there are no Red Sox fans to tease.

Privately, I despair that I can find anything by Hall and Oates online but am unable to get the lyrics to Crooked Fingers‘ Modern Dislocation.

The Side Street is the first place I heard the Buzzcocks or ate nacho tots. Which is about as awesome as it sounds. Oh sure, you could call ’em tatchos but that’s just being cute. Nacho tots; it is what it says. Not unlike the Side Street itself, nestled just off Belmont and 35th.

The review at Barfly isn’t entirely off base; unless you come here semi-regularly, it’s almost hard to imagine how the Side Street made a life for itself. While it’s lasted longer than the four restaurants kitty corner, it’s not on Belmont proper against places that have more beer selections or more elegant dining, so how the hell did this little place stick around?

I overhear the bartender tell a patron she’s been working here for two years. That tells me something immediately; if you can keep your employees, you’re doing something right. I’m drinking a Terminal Gravity IPA, a beer that wants to walk the citrus line of IPA and it’s got enough malt to keep me from souring on it.

So there’s good beer, good pub food, decent music and the employees like it. There’s only one TV and the music isn’t too loud.

Do I really have to make a case for this bar?