Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.
Wowsers. I might actually publish a Monday Hangover post on a Monday.
Friday started with a break in the usual routine. The Lady Friend was off to have dinner with some friends in Charlestown, and I had some projects to accomplish before she got home. However, I wound up going to a friend’s housewarming party in Rockland, to gather with former coworkers, since we had just lost a coworker and friend of ours suddenly on Thursday night. Some good laughs and beers later (I brought some tasty Dale’s Pale Ale), it was time to head back to SFHQ to meet with the Lady Friend, and prepare for Saturday’s main event.
Last weekend, Lady Friend’s father made it down into the big bad city for dinner and a Bruins game with some friends. Apparently he had a good time, since he suggested that both LF parents make the trek down THIS weekend for the Lady Friend’s birthday celebration (it never ends). I was invited along, so the four of us made a day of it. They rode the Downeaster into North Station, and we met up at the Beantown Pub, right across from the Granary Burying Grounds, where some famous Boston people are hanging around underground. Samuel Adams is buried there (as are John Hancock and Paul Revere), and Beantown Pub loves their little claim to fame as being the only place in town “where you can have a cold Sam Adams while looking at a cold Sam Adams.”
I noticed that Harpoon’s Celtic Ale was on tap, and it had been awhile since I tasted it, so it beat out the Sam Adams novelty. The Lady Friend and her mother followed my lead, but I suggested a Samuel Adams Brick Red Ale for the patriarch. As I’ve mentioned before, you can only get it on tap in Boston (they don’t bottle or ship it anywhere else) and I figured he’d enjoy it, which he did. From there, the Widmer Brothers Pitch Black caught my eye, and it turned out to be a black IPA. Now, there’s a bit of a kerfuffle going on in the beer world over this. IPA stands for India PALE Ale, so how can you have a BLACK version of a PALE ale? When I checked this one off my list, I noticed that they also refer to it as a “Cascadian Dark Ale.” Fair enough. It was tasty all the same. The Lady Friend and her father followed this time, while her mother had a taste or two.
From Beantown, we ventured down to Jacob Wirth’s for some good German beers that you simply can not find in Moo Hampsha. It was a quiet Saturday afternoon, so the service was more than adequate, which is not usually the case at Jacob’s. I think it helped that we just had beers, and didn’t bother with a food order. I love the setting (it’s styled to look like a German beer hall) and the selection of brews, but the food service is always lacking.
Opening round: a Hofbräu Dunkel for me (I lectured for quite a bit the other night explaining to the Lady Friend that “dunkel” simply means “dark” in German, and is a dark lager) and a surprise for the Lady Friend. The parents also looked to me for suggestions, which makes me feel helpful. You know that person at the table to whom everyone defers to when it comes time to pick a wine for dinner? That’s me, but with beer. Trust me, you don’t want me to choose a wine, but beer and liquor I can handle. I had been threatening the Lady Friend with a proper rauchbier (smoked beer) ever since she tried a Samuel Adams Bonfire “smoke beer” which was like a weak Sam with a dollop of “smokey” flavor. It was time for her to try the real thing: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier. Though it did indeed smell like a campfire, there was enough malt in the brew to balance it out, and she wound up enjoying it. She didn’t love it, but at least enjoyed it. Her palate’s come that far.
A Spaten Optimater doppelbock was the selection for vater and a Matilda, a strange floral hopped conglomerate from Goose Island (they call it a Belgian pale ale) for mutter. I proceeded to have an Optimator for myself, suggested a Jake’s Special Dark (the house dark ale) for LF’s dad, and die frauen shared a tall glass of Schneider Aventinus Weizenbock (wheat bock).
After our German beers, it was time for some Italian food. We hiked over to the North End (with a stop at Mike’s Pastry) for dinner at Risorante Limoncello, where LF’s dad had eaten the week before. Plenty of fresh Italian bread, a delicious chicken parm, and even some *gasp* wine made for a tasty stop on the drinking tour. I have no idea what wine we were drinking, but it was acceptable even for my infantile palate. The meal ended with a birthday dessert for the Lady Friend, and a round of limoncello liqueur, a digestif made from soaking lemon peels in booze.
We walked the parents back down to North Station for their return train, and decided to hop over to see a bartender friend of mine at the Purple Shamrock. It was only about 6:30, so the dinner crowd was still keeping things mellow before the Saturday night crowd of 20-somethings from Andover and Billerica douched up the place. We chatted for a bit and had a couple of pints before moving on ourselves. Also picked up an interesting bit of info from Jackie the bartender. She pours a black and tan with 3/4 ale (they recently got Goose Island’s Honkers Ale on tap) and topped with 1/4 Guinness. I always thought it was a 50/50 ratio, but Jackie claims that is a half-and-half. From there, we discussed the Black Velvet, which I know as equal parts Guinness and champagne, but had seen on menus with cider substituted for the wine. Jackie agreed and said that in just about every bar, it’ll be poured with a cider, such as Strongbow. Neat. This is just the dorky stuff I enjoy debating, and finding out what a particular drink order is likely to get you in a real bar. The Lady Friend was intrigued enough by the conversation to have a black-and-tan, after which we headed back to SFHQ, courtesy of the MBTA, the bestest public mass transit system evar. Another good drinking day down.