I don’t see much discussion about Rock Bottom’s brews and there are a few reasons for that, I think. First, it’s a chain and beer geeks instinctively distrust a chain. Second, the business tends to de-emphasize the brewing part. There’s a stage for bands, TVs all over the bar to watch sports and it’s a restaurant as well. Finally, as far as I know, they don’t bottle or distribute their beer anywhere outside of the restaurant.
I think that all of these things contribute to RB’s lesser standing, however that doesn’t detract from quality of the beers there.
I dawdle before finding a place to sit. There are chairs available but they are surrounded by people. Are they available? Is it OK for me to sit down in the crowd? Because bus rules generally dictate giving people as much space around you as possible.
But; nothing ventured, nothing gained. So I ask an older guy if the chair is taken and when he says it isn’t, I ask him what he’s drinking. He’s got a Mug Club glass in front of him, so I can tell he’s a semi-regular.
“It’s a pale ale, but you know. I’m driving,” he says. “It’s good but they have some great beers here to try.”
“So what would you recommend?”
“Oh, the seasonal, there’s an IPA, I think…” he says, looking around. He sounds like a Jimmy Stewart imitation but I don’t mean that in a mean way. He’s friendly and casual. We look about until I see the 16th Anniversary Imperial IPA on cask.
“That?” I ask, pointing to the keg. He nods vigorously.
So I have it. And it’s smooth and delicious. It’s a really good beer that people ought to try. Well balanced, maybe just shy of the bitterness someone might expect from an IPA but what do I know? Try it for yourself. It’s good.
He and I talk football. We talk travel. He’s been to Okinawa, he has a daughter in Tokyo, teaching english. He likes to hike and cross country ski and he likes a good pint of beer. He’s been up to Mount Hood and he’s not above having a beer that’s just OK when that’s what’s available. He’s lived in the south, Louisiana, and since I’ve visited we talk about the wonders of the South; beautiful landscape and the chance to experience nature.
We talk sports albeit briefly and college athletics for a little bit. I try not to let my opinions get in the way of listening to him, because I’d rather listen to him.
It’s a good night.