Thursday, August 16, 2007

New "Bar" on Monroe Street

OK. So, I don't know the name of the place. But, it's on Monroe, where Relish used to be. While I will claim it as a victory because I love beer, Relish was a great deli. The sandwiches were fantastic and their cheese selection was surprisingly comprehensive. Hopefully, this bar doesn't suffer the same fate of jumping on a trend that seems like it might have some legs, but just turns out to be a trend. To wit: cheese was all the rage a few years ago, and now seems to have fallen back to an obscurity slightly above what it was. Beer has the potential to suffer the same fate. What?! Blasphemy you say! But hear me out. One of the problems that makes cheese so hard to approach for a newbie is that there is just so much of it and the labels and names make it practically impossible to reasonably compare one against another.

Beer has a similar problem. I'll give an example from a newbie point of view using the menu from the new bar. Rodenbach Grand Cru. It's a fine beer, and it sells for $7 a bottle. But, how, as a newcomer, can I justify the expense and not know what it is? As opposed to say: Westmalle Triple ($8). That at least tells me it's a triple. Triple what? Well, maybe, even as a newbie, I've done a little research and I know that the trappist ales (like Chimay and Orval) have different types: the ale, a double (dubbel), a triple, and sometimes a quad (like New Glarus!). Thus, I know what I can expect out of this Westmalle Triple, or can at least guess.

My point here is just this: labeling makes a fine product unapproachable. For this reason, while the uninitiated will try a few of them, once they "try" a Delirious Tremens (btw, not for sale at this bar), and shiver from the taste they may just go back to their Capital Island Wheat and call it a day.

One of these days I will get over to this bar. I will tell you that most of their beer can be purchased at the retail outlets around town for considerably less (e.g., Orval sells here for $7.50, but can be had a beer store for about $4). But some of the list is really intriguing. Piraat ($18. Served in a bomber. BA. RB. I've actually seen this occasionally around town in the stores). Buffalo Stout. ($19. Served in a "champagne bottle". BA. RB.) Their tap list is actually much more interesting. Corsendonk Pater. ($6.50. BA. RB.) And the really intriguing one: Urthel Hop-It. ($6.50. BA. RB.)

I was going to hold off on publishing this post until I found out the name of the bar - since it's not that far from me, it could be determined fairly quickly; but I have a nit to pick. A friend of mine grabbed their drink list when she was there (which is how I know what their bottles and taps are and the prices), but nowhere on the drink list is the name of the place, an address, a phone number - nothing. Just drinks. Now, it strikes me as odd because one would have to expect that these things would grow legs and walk away (I know, right? Like people drinking beer would do such a thing!) - the least they could do is see it as an advertising opportunity. In any event. Soon enough, fellow readers, soon enough we will know the name of this elusive beast.

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