Beer of the Night: Pauwel Kwak at The Porter

Just got in from The Porter where I had dinner with my buddies Jimmy and Elric.  This was my second trip to The Porter. I am beginning to really like the place and, if I ever open my own beer joint, it’s a place that will certainly serve as an inspiration, as will  Brick Store Pub. Both have great beer lists but The Porter, I think, has a slightly better atmosphere and is in a better location, at least if you live in Atlanta proper. If you’re just considering the beer list, Brick Store is probably the place to be.

The Pauwel Kawk pint glass, free with purchase
The Pauwel Kawk pint glass, free with purchase

Tonight was Pint Night and the pint in question was Bosteels’ Pauwel Kwak or, simply, Kwak. Kwak is a Belgian ale that comes with it’s own special glass. Part of the attraction of Pint Night at The Porter is that, while supplies last, the beer comes with a glass that you can take home with you. That was enough of a reason for Jimmy, Elric and me to visit The Porter on a Tuesday night.

The company, as always, was excellent. As brothers in Christ, we talked beer, Bible study and zombie movies, not necessarily in that order. We tend to cover a lot of ground when we get together, beer notwithstanding. It’s always a good time.

The beer was, to me, somewhat indifferent. The glass is unique and was a lot of fun but the beer itself was nothing to write home about. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t memorably good either. I remember it as fairly spicy but without distinguishing marks. I would drink it again but I wouldn’t go out of my way to order it again either. I followed it with a He’ brew Rejewvenator that was just as forgetable. Maybe I just wasn’t in the beer tasting mood.

Whatever the mood, I definitely enjoyed the Apple Bacon Hushpuppies and the Kraut and Brats.  As everyone knows, bacon makes everything better and you just can’t go wrong with ‘kraut and brats. Them’s good eatin’.

If you’re ever in Atlanta and you’re a big fan of beer, seek out The Porter. It’s newer and maybe not as well known as Taco Mac or Brick Store Pub but it’s got a great atmosphere, a good menu and an eclectic selection of beers from which to choose.

Of the three establishments, I think it may rapidly become my favorite. It doesn’t have the rare beers you’ll find at Brick Store but it’s not as crowded either. And Little Five Points is at least as hip as Decatur.  Maybe more so. The Porter might not have breadth of selection you’ll find at Taco Mac but, then again, you won’t find the beer list padded with crap either.

Anyway, it was a good evening. I enjoyed a few beers and some good company. And I got a free glass. Life, for a while at least, is good. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Burgers and Beer at Treehouse

Just got back in from dinner at Treehouse Restaurant and Pub with my buddy Jimminy. I love that place. I’ve only been twice but, I have to say, their burgers are leaps and bounds above those at Flip Burger Boutique.  They also have a great outdoor seating arrangement that is great on a warm Spring evening. It’s cool to see folks out dining with their dogs in tow.

It was also good to catch up with buddy Jim. Hopefully we’ll get to make the catch up burger a regular occurence. It’s good to have a buddy that is able to and appreciates talking about college basketball. Most of my friends around here are either ambivalent about it or are pro basketball fans.

I just don’t get it. Growing up in North Carolina, college basketball is life. Here in Atlanta, college basketball is something that happens in the background after the SEC football season is over and before the Braves begin their season. Thankfully, there is an AM radio station that carries UNC basketball every so often. When I really need my fix, I torture myself driving around looking for spots where the signal is strong enough to come through.

I really need to get cable, I think.

Anyway, Jimmy went to school in Ann Arbor and is a long-suffering Michigan fan. He prefers college football, but can still speak intelligently about the world of NCAA basketball.  Being a Michigan fan, and finding his team beaten by them in most years, he’s no admirer of Duke. I appreciate that in a friend. He who hates my enemy becomes my friend.

I also “discovered” a new beer. I know it’s been around and it’s really no secret, but I tried Grolsch for the first time, at least in my memory. I have to say, it is a great beer to accompany a burger. It’s flavorful, clean, refreshing and not intolerably heavy. Heavy is a no-no for a burger beer. I may like it more than I like Stella Artois. And I like Stella a great deal.  I’m happily impressed and foresee more Grolsch in my future.

If you’re in Atlanta and you need a good burger, a good beer and good buddy time, do yourself a favor. Check out Treehouse Restaurant and Pub, over in Peachtree Hills. It’s a good time.

Review: Flip Burger Boutique

Flip Burger Boutique
Flip Burger Boutique

Just got in from dinner with my buddy Jimminy (a.ka. “Jiminez“). He just got back from New York with the Missus and it’s been a while since we caught up so we decided to hit up the fashionable new burger place off Howell Mill, Flip Burger Boutique. I read about it a few weeks ago on Chow Down Atlanta and have been wanting to try it out ever since. A group of us tried to go weekend before last but we’re unable to brave the two hour wait to get a table.

My initial impression? As fads go, this too shall pass.  It’s a unique concept that is well done but …I expected to be knocked out by the burger and I was mildly underwhelmed. I’ll go again but won’t brave a huge crowd, even though the tables turned over pretty quickly.

Our wait tonight was about 20 to 30 minutes, if that tells you anything. Tuesday night at 8 o’clock and the place was hoppin’. We bellied up to the bar to have a beer before dinner. The first point of judgment came from there. I always judge a place on the selection of beers they have on offer.

I can’t say this place was Brick Store Pub or The Porter, but they had some notable beers. The beer list wasn’t huge but it was decently select.  They have one of my favorite beers, Three Philosophers, in a bottle. Good way to score points, that, but I’ve noticed Three Philosophers popping up in more and more places these days. God forbid, I think it’s becoming trendy. Ditto for Allagash White, the beer of the night. I forewent the Three Philosophers on the theory that a lighter, crisper beer would provide better accompaniment to a heavy burger.

As it turned out, by the time we were seated, we’d pretty much decided to move away from beer and over to the house milkshakes. Flavors run from “Nutella and Burnt Marshmallow” to “Pistachio and White Truffle” to, get this, Foie Gras. I kid you not. They have an actual Foie Gras milkshake. They swore up and down that it was surprisingly good. For $9 dollars, it should be. But I just couldn’t imagine drinking any kind of duck liver milk shake.

I can vouch for the Nutella and Marshmallow shake, however. I’m sure it was at least a thousand calories, but it was great.  Ditto for the “Krispy Kreme” milkshake.  I didn’t try it but have it on Jimmy’s good authority that it tasted like several Krispy Kreme glazed donuts in ice cream. In other words, it was no kind of bad.

What turned me lukewarm on the place was the burger. They had some really interesting burgers on the menu and they certainly are crafted with attention to detail. But they weren’t all that great, honestly. They were good, but not wait-thirty-minutes-on-a-Tuesday-night great.  The meat was fresh and of the choicest cuts. The ingredients were interesting and a good mix of the traditional and non-traditional. The sides were unique and everything was well presented but…the burger itself left me wanting a little more.  I guess the burger just didn’t live up to the hype.

That’s why I think the place will simmer down to normal crowds in a few more months. Trendy is great but people will soon move on to the next big thing. When that happens, I’ll go back again. It was a good atmosphere and there are several more burgers I’d like to try. And I just have to find out what that Foie Gras milkshake is all about.

Beer of the Night: Unibroue Fin du Monde

*Whew*

That was close. As promised, I changed the domain name for the blog to http://www.talesofacharmedlife. The blog did not like that at all. Changing the domain name for the blog apparently disables all access to it. In changing the domain, I also locked myself out. It’s only thanks to my l33t computer hacking skillz that I was able to avert a minor catastrophe.

I’m sure at least one of you noticed the blog was down. I know that not all of you had plans for a Friday evening. Admit it. At least one of you sat home playing on Facebook all night long. It’s okay. I’ve done it myself a few times.

But not tonight. Tonight was guys night on the town. Jimenez, J-Biz and I hit up Zucca’s Pizzeria in Decatur for dinner, a frosty adult beverage and good Christian conversation.

The original plan was to take in Leon’s Full Service, the new effort from the owner’s of Brick Store Pub, the favored watering hole for beer connoisseurs in the Atlanta area. Unfortunately, upon arrival, we learned that the place hasn’t officially opened. Tonight was an invitation-only dry run and the place doesn’t open to the public until the 9th. Two more days and we would’ve been in!

As a consolation, we decided to just hike it over to Brick Store and drink and dine the night away.

Nothing doing. Brick Store had an overflow crowd pouring out onto the sidewalk and we couldn’t wait the hour it would’ve taken us to get a table. Some of us have rampant metabolisms that just don’t tolerate delay.  After a quick walk around the block and an aborted decision to dine at Thai Me Up, we decided that pizza was the better part of valor, so we headed over to Zucca’s.

Unibroue La Fin Du Monde
Unibroue La Fin Du Monde

Fifteen minutes later, we had beers in hand and dinner on the way. I started with a non-descript pale ale but finished with a beer I’d seen but never before tried, Unibroue’s Fin du Monde. The main reason I’ve never tried it is because it’s not a cheap beer. It was $8.50 for the pint tonight and I was the only one brave enough to spend that kind of dough on beer.  (I lucked out because J-Biz and Jimenez decided we should go three ways on the check when it arrived. I definitely owe you guys.)

At 9% alcohol by volume, it’s a heavy beer but not the heaviest I’ve tried. It’s kind of spicy but goes down smoothly.  I hate trying to describe beers. It’s like trying to justify art. I feel like I come across as some kind of pretentious fraud when I try to describe beers. I don’t know if it’s fruity or flowery or has subtle undertones of anything. I just know if I like it or not.  And I did.  But I’m pretty easy. I like lots of beers. If you want the description, here’s what the site has to say:<blockquote>La Fin du Monde is a deluxe beer made by triple fermentation and a unique way of straining the yeast. This method produces an unexpectedly subtle flavour. With its champagne-like effervescence, it has a vigourous presence in the mouth, which accentuates its strong personality. Slightly tart, with the balanced flavours of wild spices, malt and hops, it belongs to the class of great Trappist beers and, in this regard, is a North American first.</blockquote>

I guess I’m better at beer than I thought since I did get the spice bit correct before viewing the description above.

Anyway, dinner was a good time. I haven’t had much occasion to catch up with either of the gentlemen involved since they became blissfully wed and it was good to catch up with them. Both of them have been a big influence on me since I came to Atlanta, whether they know it or not. Both of them were in my small group (bible study for the uninitiated) for eighteen months or so and they have both been positive examples of what I think  a Christian man should be.  I’m sure I’ll have stories to share involving one or both of them in the future.

But not tonight. It’s late and I’ve just about had it, what with having to fix the blog before being able to post this. Hope everyone’s well and hope your Friday treated you well. Night, all.