Category Archives: Bars

Help Cancer Survivors and Hangout with Will Ferrell at the Will Powered Holiday Craft Beer Bus and Jumpsuit Jubilee

Will Ferrell at the Will Powered Holiday Craft Beer Bus and Jumpsuit Jubilee

Comedian and Old Milwaukee spokesman Will Ferrell is pitching in to help cancer survivors this holiday season by hosting a San Diego pub crawl called the Will Powered Holiday Craft Beer Bus and Jumpsuit Jubilee.

On Saturday, December 15, Ferrell and his Will Powered Holiday Craft Beer Bus and Jumpsuit Jubilee will hit up three San Diego beer bars, the Blind Lady Ale House, Hamilton’s Tavern and Tiger! Tiger!. For $10,000, you and 10 of your best friends—or one or two of your richest pals—can hang out and drink with Ferrell. You can also pay $350 for a single ticket or $450 for single ticket and a growler of a limited edition Will Ferrell IPA. And all proceeds go to Cancer for College, a charity that works to provide college scholarships for cancer survivors.

That’s a lot of scratch for a pub crawl, and you’ll still presumably have to pay for beers. But it’s certainly a worthy cause, and hanging out with Will Ferrell is a surefire way to make some lasting memories.

You can find more details on the Will Powered Holiday Craft Beer Bus and Jumpsuit Jubilee on CancerForCollege.org.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: The Lower Depths Tap Room in Boston’s Kenmore Square

The Lower Depths Tap Room in Boston's Kenmore Square

Whenever I’m in Boston’s Kenmore Square neighborhood, be it for a Red Sox game—Fenway Park is steps away from Kenmore—to grab a book at the Boston University Barnes & Noble or just wandering, I always hit up The Lower Depths Tap Room, one of my favorite beer bars in the city.

The Lower Depths is a cash-only beer bar—no liquor—with 16 rotating drafts, 150 or so bottles and a cask. The bar doesn’t serve any Budweiser beers. (Hurrah.) It also has better-than-average bar food, including a number of delectable tater-tot platters, an awesome handmade pretzel with beer cheese, and, my personal favorite, a rotating grilled cheese of the day. My girlfriend appreciates the vegan-friendly options. And you can get hotdogs for a dollar each.

The Lower Depth’s bartenders are knowledgeable and friendly. And the bar frequently holds “beer socials” and other events with local brewers. For all of these reasons and more, The Lower Depths Tap Room sits near the top of my Best Boston Beer Bars list.

UBN

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In the World Series of Beer, San Francisco Beats Detroit Every Time

Anchor Steam Beer at AT&T Park

I work in San Francisco a couple of times a year, and whenever I visit the Bay Area, I make it a point to attend a Giants game—assuming it’s baseball season, of course. San Francisco is an amazing city for baseball fans and beer geeks, and its citizens genuinely care about good craft beer. That shows in the variety of great beer bars and beer shops in the city. (I left my heart in San Francisco‘s City Beer Store last time I was there. I fucking love that place.) But it also shows inside the city’s Major League Baseball venue, AT&T Park.

AT&T Park is literally home to its own beer bar, called Public House. And it’s great beer bar, at that. (It’s no The Publick House, but it’s still great.)

And you can find a vast array of craft beer inside the park as well, including at a dedicated Anchor Steam kiosk behind the center field seats.

From an AP story on the subject of beer at AT&T Park and Comerica Park, home of the Tigers:

“In a trendy, gourmet food-and-drink obsessed place such as San Francisco, a generic ‘cold beer’ at AT&T Park often doesn’t cut the mustard as a companion to the stadium’s pungent garlic fries or a Caribbean-style concoction called the Cha-Cha Bowl.

At Detroit’s Comerica Park, where only a couple of locally made beers are on tap, the die-hard Motor City fans are just fine with the unpretentious, established American beer brands.

Concessions directors at both stadiums say each facility’s beers reflect the fans – eclectic and diverse in San Francisco, and blue collar in Detroit.”

No offense to Detroit, I have a number of friends in the Motor City, and it’s great it in its own right. But in the World Series of beer, San Francisco take the trophy every single time.

GO GIANTS!

UBN

Via HuffingtonPost.com

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Barfly’s View: Brewer’s Coalition in Newtonville, MA

Brewer's Coalition Newtonville Barfly's View

Brewer’s Coalition in Newtonville, Mass., is located right outside of Boston and less than a mile from the Massachusetts Turnpike. Newtonville is a yuppyish suburb west of Boston, and that’s quickly apparent after rubbing elbows with the Brewer’s Coalition clientele. That’s not to say, I don’t like the bar, which is an offshoot of the popular John Brewer’s Tavern restaurants in Nearby Waltham and Malden, Mass. It’s just not exactly a hip scene.

The beer selection is decent for a location like Newtonville, but it’s definitely nothing special when compared to other beer bars in the Boston area. The two things Brewer’s Coalition really has going for it are its friendly (and easy-on-the-eyes) bartenders and its selection of local Massachusetts and New England beers. The bar claims to have 50 craft beers available; I saw 20 taps and maybe twice that number of bottles, many of which were local. The bar also serves bar food, but I never hang around long enough to try any of it.

Brewer’s Coalition isn’t really worth driving out of your way for, but if you happen to be heading west out of Boston and you need a road soda, or if you’re just passing through the Newtonville area, you could find a friend in this pseudo beer bar.

UBN

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Ballast Point Indra Kunindra India-Style Export Stout Review

Ballast Point Indra Kunindra India-Style Export Stout

A couple of weeks ago, while visiting San Diego I hit a few bars that had Ballast Point Brewing Co.‘s new Indra Kunindra India-style export stout on tap. (If you’re curious those bars were Downtown Johnny Brown’s and Neighborhood.)

I’m a big fan of San Diego’s Ballast Point—the brewery’s Sculpin IPA is fantastic—but after reading a description of Indra Kunindra, I decided to go with something else. The selection of great beer at these bars is impressive, and the fact that Indra Kunindra is made with both curry spice and cumin, neither of which I really like, was a major turnoff. It kind of just sounded too…weird.

But when I returned to Boston, I found a 22-ounce bottle, and I decided to give it a go.

I poured my Indra Kunindra into a frosted pint glass, and it immediately formed a frothy tan-brown head made of very fine bubbles. The head quickly dissipated, leaving a thin layer of carbonation atop the dark brown brew—it’s not quite black, but very deep brown. And the India-style export stout is thick, but maybe not quite as thick as the average stout.

Ballast Point’s Indra Kunindra has a very mild aroma of spice, earth, coconut and sweet lime citrus. The stout is made with Madras curry spice, coconut, kaffir lime leaf, cayenne and cumin. But no one flavor is overpowering, and they all combine quite nicely. You can taste and smell the lime and coconut more than anything else.  The cayenne pepper leaves you with a notably spicy aftertaste and lingering burn.

Overall, I like this beer much more than I expected to after reading its description, and I regret not trying it on tap in San Diego.

Ballast Point Indra Kunindra India-Style Export Stout

Award-winning home brewer and Ballast Point Senior Brewer Alex Tweet made the brew in honor of the 46th anniversary of San Diego’s Holiday Wine Cellar, with the goal of creating a truly unique beer that pushes the boundaries of home and craft brewing. And he admirably succeeded.

My bottle cost $10.50, so it’s not exactly cheap. But I don’t feel as though that’s an unreasonable price for such a unique brew. It has an ABV of 7.0%. There’s no official Indra Kunindra page on Ballast Point’s website, unfortunately.

Ballast Point Brewing’s Indra Kunindra India-style export stout currently has a BeerAdvocate.com score of 86, based on 45 user ratings. And it gets a 7/10 ranking on the Urban Beer Nerd Scale.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Cambridge Brewing Co. in Cambridge, MA

Cambridge Brewing Co.

Cambridge Brewing Co. is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts’s Kendall Square neighborhood, just across the Charles River from downtown Boston, and it is hands down my favorite brewpub in the Boston area.

That’s because of the laid-back, upscale pub atmosphere and quality, fresh foods. But the real reason I love Cambridge Brewing Co., or CBC, as the locals call it, is the beer. I’ve never met a CBC beer that I didn’t like. Lots of small brewpubs make mediocre beer, but CBC, the oldest brewpub in Boston, makes world-class brews. (In fact, it just won a silver medal at the 2012 Great American Beer Fest.) CBC has four house beers that are always on tap, as well as a frequently-rotating selection of more experimental brews, some with rather amusing names. And you can buy growlers to go.

Kendall Square is a technology center of Boston and Cambridge, and it’s home to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). So CBC is often packed with 30-something professionals drinking over lunchtime business meetings or quirky MIT students winding down after a day of hitting the books.

Whenever a beer-loving friend or colleague visits Boston, CBC is the first drinking-destination I recommend.

UBN

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Today I Got a Larry Bird Haircut

Larry Bird Haircut beer

Seriously. But, no, I’m not sporting a greasy golden mullet. I’m talking about a golden Belgian strong ale from my favorite Massachusetts brewpub, Cambridge Brewing Co.

Larry Bird Haircut tastes much better than its name suggests. In fact, it’s a very solid brew. And I literally can’t say the name without grinning. Well done, CBC.

Cambridge Brewing Co. Larry Bird Haircut

“Hey man, nice Larry Bird haircut!”

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Downtown Johnny Brown’s in San Diego, CA

Downtown Johnny Brown's San Diego

One of the few bars I visited more than once during my recent trip to San Diego was Downtown Johnny Brown’s, located in the city’s Civic Center Plaza. The reason I returned: An excellent selection of Russian River Brewing Co. barrel-aged sour ales, which are some of my favorite Cali-made brews, and the bar’s relative close proximity to my hotel.

The atmosphere in Downtown Johnny Brown’s is more sports bar than beer bar, and it also serves wine. But what Downtown Johnny Brown’s lacks in atmosphere, it more than makes up for with its quality, albeit limited, draft selection and bottle list. When I visited, the bar had between 15 and 20 beers on tap, the majority of which were local. It also had a dozen or so unique bottles, and its prices were very reasonable compared to some of the other bars I hit.

Downtown Johnny Brown’s also serves basic bar food, including lots of greasy fried shit and decent burgers. The bar has a pool table, darts and shuffleboard, if bar games are you thang. But it’s Downtown Johnny Brown’s quality beer selection that makes this bar a draw for beer nerds in or around San Diego.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Toronado in San Diego, CA

Toronado Bar San Diego

After performing a fairly in-depth Web search for the best beer bars in San Diego, it was clear I had to visit one bar in particular: Toronado, in the city’s North Park neighborhood. Toronado showed up in almost every single list of San Diego beer bars I found, and it was on the top of many of them.

So yesterday, I made my way over to Toronado, which isn’t exactly close to where I’m staying. (Shout out to my man Chris for the ride. I love ya buddy.) I arrived around 7 pm on Monday night, and the bar was already packed. I soon found out why: Toronado offers pints of all of its local draft brews for $3 as part of a Monday night special. Considering the bar’s impressive draft list, and the fact that San Diego’s “local” beers are some of the best beers in the nation—dare I say, the world—that’s a pretty fucking good deal.

Toronado San Diego is the sister bar of the (in)famous original Toronado bar in San Francisco. It has 56 rotating taps and hundreds of rare bottles from around the world. (I had a Russian River Supplication Batch 004 that was to die for.) And the food wasn’t bad either, though it’s pretty standard pub grub.

The bar was so busy that I couldn’t really engage the bartenders, but the guy who served my Supplication gave me a knowing look and a smirk when I ordered, and I got the feeling that the staff really knows its brews. The atmosphere was more dive bar than upscale beer bar, but I dig that kind of scene. And Toronado San Diego has a juke box that’s packed with a range of quality eclectic tunes. I don’t have much more time in San Diego, so I doubt I’ll make it back to Toronado during this trip. But I know I will return at some point. Toronado is a top notch beer bar.

UBN

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