Ugh. Cambridge, The People’s Republic of. For those of you not familiar with the area, it’s called that due to the extreme liberal-hippie-happy-friendly-environmental-more bike lanes-fewer cars-save the whales, bunnies and tsetse flies-hipster-aged college professor-drive a Prius-shop at Whole Foods-mentality. It’s like an east coast mini-San Francisco, and one of the most densely-populated cities in the country, so there’s a lot of those douchebags. However, there are also a lot of bars worth visiting, despite the rather dubious beliefs held by the patrons. So, the Lady Friend and I gritted our teeth and boarded the wondrous Red Line T train on a grey December day that was as bleak as the Soviet communistic views held by the Cambridgians. It’s no coincidence that the Red Line travels to the Red Squares of Kendall, Central, Harvard, Porter, and Davis. If we were going to visit the Bloc neighborhoods on the other side of the
Berlin Wall Charles River, then this was the gloomy weather appropriate enough to set the mood.
I’m not really Conservative, but I have little tolerance for the preposterously leftist views of Cambridge. They think everybody should feel good all the time, and are willing to use my tax money to that end, for things like college tuition for illegal immigrants and banning smoking on outdoor public benches. Guess what: happiness isn’t a right, it’s a privilege. It’s up to the individual to find ways to make themselves happy, not by legislation. The Constitution assures the PURSUIT of happiness, not guaranteeing happiness itself.
Personally, I recommend drinking.
Destination: Cambridge Brewing Company. These guys are local legends, and started way back in 1989. They’ve got a brewpub right in Kendall Square in an old mill building of sorts (if anyone knows what that building was originally, I’d love to find out). The brewpub itself is mostly solid-looking wood furniture and brick walls, as a proper pub should be. Quirky art pieces accent the bar and dining area: bold murals, wire sculptured hands grasping giant brews, and stained glass depictions of foaming pints. They brew a wide range of styles and influences, and I can’t think of a bad one I’ve ever had. The outdoor seating option in the summer is nice, but on this day, we were glad for the shelter and heat inside. It was a pretty mellow afternoon, and after originally being seated at a small side table, we abandoned it and sidled up to the bar. We snagged several samples; they don’t offer an official sampler or flight, but you can put together your own with 4oz samples for $2 each. The Lady Friend and I chose five apiece, and between the two of us, covered most of the menu. Here’s the lowdown:
Tall Tale Pale Ale
Nose: Mild, sweetish hop.
Taste: Sharp, bitter hop. Malt cereal fades in, but stinging pine lingers. A bitter English style hop.
Charles River Porter
Nose: Roasted dark aroma, but weak.
Taste: Roasted sweetness immediately goes to a sharp coffee bitter. Smooth, but bitter.
Big Man IPA
Nose: Weak aroma. Hop floral with some sweetness
Taste: Bitter start, but a citrus sweetness helps cut through it. A complexity; almost a layered taste with the bitter on top and a citrus flavor lurking underneath.
Valley Girl IPA
Nose: Nice hop citrus with a maltiness underneath.
Taste: Savory start, a little grease. A bit of spice, like a sausage snap. Pine sap.
YouEnjoyMyStout An 11% abv Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
Nose: Sickly sweet nose, almost grape-like. Syrup in the nose, if that’s possible.
Taste: Slight syrup, but a wine-like quality. Sweet fruit flavor. Mouthcoating. A hint of roast hidden beneath the viscous goo. The Lady Friend just denounced it as “cough syrup” and struggled to find the will to finish it.
Not Homer, Radioactive Man.
So, as we tasted our tasters and munched some lunch, I attempted to avoid getting sucked into the slew of Will Ferrell movies on the large flickering screen. I practiced one of my favorite activities, bar eavesdropping. Well, if you’re sitting at the bar speaking loud enough for me to hear, it’s not really eavesdropping. Even if I’m leaning towards you and straining to hear what you’re saying over the general din of the room. However, it was a lazy Saturday afternoon at CBC, so I didn’t have to strain at all to overhear the conversation between the bartender and one of the stool inhabitants. They were discussing plans for later that night, about how Person A would text Persons B and C to tell them where to meet Persons A and D and where to find parking even though it’s right down the street because they want to drive in case the party is lame and want to have travel options besides the T which stops running too early and it’s cold out tonight. Or something like that.
She also happened to mention how, at a recent social event, she was recreationally drinking a particular CBC beer, the Tripel Threat, and got destroyed. She noticed me paying more attention to her conversation than my own (bartenders see and hear all. If you don’t think they see you, it’s because they’re ignoring you, and usually for a good reason) and came over once her friend left to ask if I’d like a sample of the beer in questions. Absolutely.
Tripel Threat 10% abv Belgian Strong Ale
Nose: Belgian wheat. Bubblegum.
Taste: Light and tasty. Again, bubblegum. Sweet with a slight banana.
Whoa. This does NOT taste like a 10% beer. And that’s the threatening part. The bartender, Emily, says it’s like drinking water. Which leads to a full day of recovery needed. Can’t party with the Tripel Threat. She also shared an amusing anecdote about their brewmaster. He was down in the cellar, and “tasting” quite a lot of the brew, since it didn’t feel like it was that strong. Then he stood up, and promptly fell over. Awesome.
So, lunch was excellent. More importantly, the beers were excellent, and enough to elicit a mild buzz, preparation enough for the cold that lurked outside. We finished up our remaining samples, and, at Emily’s suggestion, took a quick peek around the back room where some brewing equipment lurked, and headed out into the chill, which didn’t feel that bad, thanks to our liquid jackets. We had other stops to make. Hopefully the KGB wouldn’t demand our travel papers en route.