a night out

11 Aug

Flat Tail Flanders Red on Nitro? Yes, please.

Had my first chance to check out Bailey’s Taproom last night.  The Taphandle crew met up with a large-ish contingent of friends to celebrate Michael’s birthday.  I have been reading various beer blogs in Portland for a while now, particularly the gentleman over at A Pint for Dionysus, who does quite a bit of his drinking and writing at Baileys.  The posts are always great, the beer choices varied, and the good word on Baileys a constant.  But the Gipper said it best when he said “trust but verify”, right?

I walked up at 7:20 or so, and I could see that it was pretty crowded.  I wasn’t surprised or anything…it’s Friday night and I’m downtown, so I expect a crowd at a good watering hole.   It was noisy, which could be explained by the crowd, but the high ceilings offered little buffer to the noise.  This place was clearly not meant to be a quiet place to talk (at least not on a crowded Friday night).  What I found later was that the back part of the bar, near the bathrooms, was much quieter and better suited for conversation over beers.  I am not saying that it was a huge problem, just that you might not want to go there for introspective conversation regarding politics or fashion or whatever the hell you’re interested in, when it’s packed.  Pick topics that can be shouted to each other over the table.  Short sentences. Lots of hand gestures.  That kind of thing.

As for the beer, there were some really interesting selections and some really standard ones.  That is a good thing, as it offers both the novice and the self-professed experts something to be excited about.   There was a lot to choose from, but it was a no-brainer on what my first beer would be, as they had the Flat Tail 2nd Anniversary Flanders Red on nitro.  Aged in Pinot barrels, this beer was amazing! I am pretty sure that this was the Flanders Red in Domaine Serene wine barrels that was being aged when we did the tour of Flat Tail back in February. I loved the fact that Baileys was serving it on nitro.  It had a great initial sourness that gave way to a righteous biscuity, bready flavor with hints of vanilla.  And smooth?  Hell yeah!  I would have liked to compare it both on and off nitro, but regardless, this was probably the best beer of the night.  If I haven’t said it before, or enough, Flat Tail is just damn good at brewing beer.  The folks at Baileys picked a great way to serve it as well.

Next up was a 20 oz Superdog IPA from Lucky Lab.  I’ve never been the biggest fan of Lucky Lab, but count me as a fan of this beer.  I had a pint months ago while dropping off some homebrew for the Cheers to Belgian Beers Fest, and I was impressed.  Extremely resinous, with obvious grapefruit and pine in the nose, the flavor was just as good.  Definitely one of the better IPAs that I have had this summer.  There would have been nothing wrong with walking in and drinking this particular beer all night.  It was refreshing and extremely tasty.  It might be time for me to give Lucky Lab a “do over”.

I rounded out the evening with The Commons Cascadian Table Beer.  According to The Commons Facebook page, this is a gin aged amber fermented 100% with Brettanomyces Lambicus and has fresh lime juice added.  I do remember some sourness, but not overwhelming.  I also noticed some really nice botanical flavors, but not in a gin sort of way.  The lime juice was more subtle than I would have expected, so it didn’t stand out in the beer.  I remember that I really liked this beer, but also wasn’t keen on drinking more than one.  Maybe that was because it was my third beer, my tasting notes were a mess, and I hadn’t eaten anything…I’m just saying.

As for Baileys itself?  Well, it’s downtown…which can be good and bad.  It gets a lot of tourist traffic, I imagine, which is good.  It seemed a bit too noisy for my taste, but that is a personal preference and not necessarily a reason not to go.  They don’t have food, but they have a nice little agreement with Santeria that allows you to bring in tacos, etc. from across the street.  That’s pretty cool.  It’s doesn’t have the snugness of a neighborhood pub.  It definitely feels more like an urban bar…which in retrospect, why shouldn’t it be going for that?  It’s downtown for fucks sake.  I’ve heard it compared to the Horse Brass by more than one person, but I would put it closer to Apex in style.  The video board showing beers and the urban aesthetic put them both in a similar category.  Incidentally, they have a really cool feature that shows you how much is left in each keg!  In real time!  Plus the board shows you what’s coming up next, as soon as a keg blows.  It’s a nice little feat of beer technology that I think every bar should find a way to employ…except the Horse Brass…I like it just the way it is.  Crossed-out beer menus and slightly cranky servers and all.

On the whole, Baileys was great.  Not sure I will be able to make it there a whole lot, what with it being a bit out of my way to get to, but it will surely be noted as a possibility more now than before.  I can see why people like the place and I encourage everyone to check it out.  You’ll still probably find me at the Horse Brass more often, but I will try and make it a point to get to Baileys for some follow-up visits real soon.

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