April 22, 2008

Fancy Feast At Brewer's Art

Well, not too fancy. A culotte steak is just a culotte steak after all, no matter how you dress it up. Even if mine came with a tasty gravy, rosemary garlic shoestring fries and a fancy lettuce salad.

A stop at Brewer's Art is something I've targeted since I arrived in town, so the visit last week was a big day. Before getting down to the nitty gritty, here's the overall impression:

It's a great place to drink beer and get lost in the building's mix of funky and classic stylings. The dining experience was still solid but nowhere near as spectacular as the overall vibe and libation experience.

Brewer's Art is located downtown along Charles Street and as you can see from the website, they picked a great building with classic white columns guarding the entrance. Once inside there's a small but respectable bar and lounge area overlooking the street. Immediately adjacent is another lounge area that serves as the gateway to the twin dining rooms and the basement bar.

I had reservations so I wasn't able to spend much time in either room, but most everyone seemed to flock to that area of the establishment. It's very relaxed and inviting.

The basement bar was quite dark and similarly small, but had a cool dark and moody vibe from the limited light and odd pieces of art. Before sitting down to dinner, the family and myself sampled several of the in-house drafts.

The old man and myself started with the Resurrection, Brewers Art's signature beer. Most everything there is brewed in the Belgian style, and is geared towards a unique drinking experience more than fitting any classic styles. This is a good thing and I think their brewers have a good touch in creating new tastes. The Resurrection itself was a reddish pour, and fairly bland at the start before opening up. After a few sips its sweet, malty character came out. There wasn't else much to say, and I'll have to try it again to give a more meaningful description. Perhaps something was going on in my mouth for that first pour that dulled the experience?

Meanwhile, my mother went for a bottle of German import Pinkus Muller Organic Hefe Weizen. My one sip of that found it to fit the Hef profile, if a bit more mild and less fruity than your normal Hef.

For a second round, the old man bravely tried something that I was a bit leery of trying: the Green Peppercorn Tripel.

BA's description: "A belgian style triple spiced with madagascar green peppercorns. A blonde ale with a hint of spice and smooth finish".

This beer taught a lesson I usually follow with beer but got stupid this time: try things! It was quite good, as it obviously carried a mild to medium peppercorn flavor. But, it was the good, floral notes from the peppercorn that came out, not the overpowering spice that comes when you bite into a peppercorn. There was a nice floral aroma to it as well, and it had a nice sweet but not too sweet taste.

Next up: the Tiny Tim, a "one-of-a-kind ale brewed with buckwheat honey, hibiscus flowers, and rosemary. An herbal, slightly floral refresher for the warm spring weather." Yep, you get a good herbal kick in this pale pour. There was actually a menthol aroma at first hit, which is decidedly unusual for a beer.

Next up: Ozzy, their "tribute to the 'Devil' beers of Belgium. This beer is light in color with a rich flavor and dry finish." This was a fresh, light pale ale.

The old man followed that with a 7 Beauties, their "country rye ale brewed with 7 types of malt, Brewer's Gold, Northern Brewer and Sterling Hops." He particularly enjoyed it, as it was a dark brown/red pour with a roasty, heavy coffee-like flavor. It was almost like a breakfast beer, if that makes sense.

Finally at dinner, mom tried a bottle of Ichtegem Grand Cru. I didn't take any notes for that, but it's described as a "oak aged Flemish ale". I finished with a bottle of Belgium's Delirium Tremens which is widely available but quite good.

Lesson: there's a tremendous variety of tasty in-house beers as well as an impressive bottle selection from around the world. Being at Brewer's Art is a great beer-drinking experience.

The atmosphere is fun as well.

Dinner itself was solid, but uninspiring. They nicely dress up some standard dishes (steak, pork tenderloin, lamb shank), but they don't really excite. This is no mark against the kitchen, but I think they've intentionally chosen hearty but bland dishes (even among the fish items grouper and char) and added a little creative touch but otherwise let the dishes avoid distracting from the atmosphere. The dining room itself is like something from a Poe novel: tall, imposing ceilings, bookshelves, white linen. It stands in contrast to the casual chic lounge area, but creates its own more subdued space.

Things improved with their dessert and cordial selection. They make some fantastic desserts (I had a chocolate torte) and offer a nice selection of after-dinner drinks.

Overall there's a lot to like about Brewer's Art. I'll be back many times. Please do go, you'll enjoy it particularly if you're going for drinks.

No comments: