On The Rail: 1856

I am having Block 15’s Ridgeback Red. It has a hearty citrus bite at the end of it but the nose is faint, though steady. What’s weird is the middle. It’s practically flavorless but there’s a density to the mouthfeel; this beer has weight but not a lot of malt flavor. I don’t know what to make of that.

The rail at 1856 is small and feels unwelcoming. This is what happens when you let looks override practicality; the cement bartop is sturdy and fits with the aesthetic (clean, sparse) but has the feel of cement (so there’s a grittiness under my palms as I type) and it’s doesn’t feel very comforting. Bars should feel welcoming.

Now, this is a bottleshop and it tilts towards wine so there may be a quality I’m unappreciative of. I don’t think it’s really meant to be a local bar. I think it’s meant to be a local bottleshop: you walk down here, grab a bottle of decent stuff for your pals, head back home and try the new cool thing.  The bar feels more like a secondary purpose. You can drink here but they don’t really care if you do.

My critique is strictly about the place, though. The bartender was cool and did what he was supposed to do. I don’t fault him for working in an environment that doesn’t care if I stay.

It’s a decent view of the neighborhood, though: looking out I can see the houses that have clearly been getting paint, yards a little more attention. A spot that not too many years ago was a bit grodier is reaching to be a nexus for people to build out from. The clouds plod in like epic starships from the west, turtle-amorphous and white capped, their dark bellies shielding our eyes from the inner workings of the ships. It’s a pretty cool view and it is hard to begrudge that, even if I don’t think the bar is all that welcoming.

More than two-thirds done with my ale, my opinion of it isn’t that changed. I’m starting to pick up a little bit of roastiness underneath it all: that’s the malt quality but the hops are the overriding flavor in this beer. It’s not bad but I’m not excited by it either. It’s OK. They cannot all be winners.  I don’t get a reason to come out to the Northeast part of the city though and for today, that view is its own reward.

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