“Am I sleeping? Have I slept?”
This bit from Fight Club is going through my head right now and should tell you where my brain is at. I’ve just come home from a trip to Seattle (which is why there was no post on Friday, sorry!) and I’m knackered. On the upside, after a road trip I never feel the need to make dinner, so I always take myself out. A tradition I picked up from my parents after camping trips.
I’m at the Slingshot for a beer and a sandwich. I walked here, just to give my legs some action after sitting and driving all morning and I feel dazed. Have I written here for this theme? I can’t remember.
I do recall that I haven’t had anything from Base Camp in awhile, so I get their NWFest Amber. It’s a beer I instantly want to make: Malty with a crisp finish, there’s something spicy on the periphery of my tongue. I think that’s from the hops and I may have to do some research on the recipe for this one. A good amber isn’t always easy to find and I like this beer.
The rail here is cement, like the 1856, but it’s set at chest height so while it’s not very comfortable to write at (I feel like I have T-Rex arms) it IS pretty easy to lean on and enjoy my pint. The north corner of the rail is crowded and I’m closer to the south end, so I get to people watch a bit (as much as I can) given my ability to focus.
An older fellow comes in, sits at the south end of the bar and the bartender already knows what he wants. I love that, because it means that the Slingshot has become a neighborhood joint. Regulars with connections to the people who work here. That’s always cool.
It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that I’ve returned to the Lion’s Eye. If it was closer-and I lived in an area less full of awesome-I would probably attempt to go there weekly. As it stands: I was easily able to convince my girlfriend to join me for an evening of revelry (although she was probably coming along in part to just quiet me about the place.)
I had a Base Camp Ultra Gnarly IPA and it was quite tasty. It seemed to be a bit bolder than Base Camp’s usual offerings and I appreciate that they are occasionally trying some new stuff. My girlfriend was suitably impressed with the Lion’s Eye and remarked how quiet it was, especially since it was right on 82nd. I hadn’t noticed that last time but it’s true; this pub is really a nice place to hang out.
Which leads me to wonder: ‘how does a place like this continue to exist in such a divey area?’ When I was at Andy’s bar, I could tell there was a group of regulars who were there every night.
Though we are here on a Friday evening and there were customers, the Lion’s Eye isn’t full of people, wrestling to be served. There should be: this place is great. So what’s keeping this going?
I got up to walk around this time and on the other side of the room there were two pool tables, both of which had games being run on them. That’s when I noticed the collection of trophies in the back. Lots of trophies, all for billiards.
I turned back to the tables and took a quick look at them: new black felt, immaculate and deep in color, the kind of surface you want to play pool on. The light bulb went off in my head; you bring in people who want to play the game and you respect their desires for an excellent environment to play in.
That’s how you keep it going: you build a culture and you respect it, and they in turn respect you. This is on top of a fine beer list and wait staff who have, both times I’ve been in, been great.
Don’t tell anyone else. This bar is going to be come my Secret Place of Awesome.
Why bury the lead? Take a look at this:
Pretty crazy, right? This is the Base Camp S’mores Stout, which is really just their regular stout with a toasted marshmallow put on the side.
It may be a gimmick but it’s a gimmick that works. The toasted marshmallow really does change the experience you have with this ale. The caramel elements trick you a little bit, because they don’t show up on the tongue, yet the brain is telling you that you’re smelling something carmely!
It’s a fascinating exercise in how much influence our nose can have over what we taste.
Of course, this beer wouldn’t work if the stout wasn’t good and I’m pleased to tell you it is. I also liked the layout at Base Camp’s serving area. Spacious and reasonably well lit, with a long, broad bar that allowed for pizzas or a comfortable spot to rest your arms while you read. There were lots of styles to try so I’m looking forward to returning to see how well the other beers hold up.