If your town is like Gainesville then you are probably finding yourself overwhelmed with decisions to make about where to get your Craft Beer needs fulfilled. Here we have had within the last two weeks Swamp Head Brewery’s 8th birthday party, Crafty Bastard’s 1st anniversary, multiple tap takeovers and charity fund raising with pints at various locations, like Brass Tap and Gainesville House of Beer. Even the Hoggetown Medieval Faire had their first weekend and they featured a Craft Beer tent this year(see pics below).
I decided to start my weekend a little different. As anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook may remember, I usually go to Lucky’s Market in Gainesville on Wednesdays so I can have a sample of craft beer at their little bar and take advantage of the double coupon day (Sales from prior week and week ahead are both valid on that day). I didn’t make it on that Wednesday because I knew they were having a beer tasting on that Friday that I wanted to attend.
I have had a couple of different samples of Lagunitas Brewing’s beers before and what I had I liked. So being able to try something from them I hadn’t had before appealed to me greatly. Plus beer tastings featuring a particular brewery can tell you a lot about the folks making the beers.
I arrived at Lucky’s right around 4, when it was starting and the young lady repping the company and pouring the beers was finishing setting up. There was quite a display of swag on the counter (see pic below).
When she finally got ready to pour there was myself and a few other people at the counter. I sampled Laguntas beers in the following order: Lagunitas Pils – a very sincere tribute to Czech Pilsners (below left); Lagunitas Sucks – a very strong scent of pine in the aroma but a very smooth Double IPA (below right); Lagunitas a Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ which is a pretty good smooth tasting wheat ale (pictured at top of article); and a Lagunitas Maximus which was also a very smooth tasting Double IPA (pictured second down below); and I also had a sample of the Lagunitas IPA which I had had before but figured what the heck – I was there, it was there…
When I had had my first sample about half way down, lo and behold the Chemist arrived and joined me at the counter, then about halfway into the next sample Rowdy showed up. So the Philosophying would begin earlier this evening. We sat around sampling and catching up for a bit. looking over the Swag available and realizing we had better get some before it all disappeared. After a bit Chemist got a text from the Deck-Orator that she was done with work so he went to retrieve her and they would meet me at Gainesville House of Beer later on.
I stuck around a bit more and gabbed with Rowdy and before long one of her friends from roller-derby stopped by and they began conversing. During that time Rowdy and I both overheard the manager say he had some bottles of Kentucky Bourbon Stout that had been held back for someone to pick up and it had been too long and he put them on the counter for folks to take up and purchase. So Rowdy and I each got a bottle to take with us. SCORE!!
After a bit I figured I needed to head out and said goodbye to Rowdy as she wasn’t joining us that evening. So I grabbed my bottle of KBS and walked by the chip area and grabbed a couple of snacks for the continuing happy hour at HOB, then walked to the cashier, paid and went.
By the time I got to HOB the lot next to it was full so I parked in the downtown garage, grabbed the two bags of chips and headed over to HOB. I saw Chemist and Deck-Orator had a table so I walked over and greeted them, set my chips down and went to the bar for the first actual pint of the evening. I ran into the Chemist son, J, while I was there and realized we would be a foursome which was good because that meant I would eat less chips.
For my first pint of the evening, I decided because of the influence of the Lagunitas samples earlier that I wanted a Pilsner, so I ordered the Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner (see pic below). This was a nice Pilsner but not as good as the Lagunitas sample I had had earlier.
With the chips I had brought the Pilsner went down pretty easy so I decided to order something with a little more kick to it. Alex, the manager at HOB asked me what I was having and I said, “I’m in the mood for a little Insanity.” To which he replied, “I like the way your thinking!” and went back and poured a Weyerbacher Insanity (see pic below), which is a barleywine. I have to say, I have had some barleywines that make you want to shave your tongue, and others, like this one that taste really good and smooth and have a nice little kick.
We worked on our respective drinks and philosophied some more then thoughts began working on dinner ideas. Someone suggested the Top, which we were all for, so we settled up our tabs and walked across the street and around the corner. Unfortunately the wait for seating was over an hour and I’m not one for waiting that long to eat. Someone suggested we maybe try Emiliano’s or another spot downtown and see what we could come up with. I liked that idea and hadn’t been to Emiliano’s in a while so we headed out in that direction.
When we got there, they weren’t quite full yet and had a wait if we wanted to sit inside but could be seated right away if we wanted to sit outside. It was cool out but not intolerable so we chose outside and were quickly seated. The Deck-Orator and the Chemist were leaning toward wine with the meal but I felt like sticking with the ales, so they ordered a nice red and I ordered a First Magnitude Ursa (American IPA) which I think is one of their better beers.
J wasn’t feeling well so he excused himself and walked home. So the remaining three of us looked over the menus and ordered our meals when the waitress returned. I had been there a few times and hadn’t had a bad dish yet, but wanted something I hadn’t tried before so I ordered the Mofongos, which is fried green plantains and yuca mashed with bacon and garlic-lime mojo, stuffed with your choice of grilled skirt steak, slow roasted pork, or sauteed shrimp. Served in a beef and pork jus. I chose the steak for my protein. I can’t recall what Chemist and Deck-Orator ordered.
We Philosophied some more for a bit but it didn’t seem long before our food was ready and brought out. The Mofongos was delicious. I like both plaintains and yucca but had not had them served mashed together before. It didn’t have the sweetness you usually expect from those two individually but it was still delicious.
When dinner was done I was too full to even think about a dessert. I think my cohorts were as well. All in all a very enjoyable meal that was a good way to finish the evening out.
If you hadn’t tried any of the small session beer tastings that happen around town occasionally then I suggest you do so. You can usually find at least one good beer out of the group that you will like. In this case, I enjoyed all of the samples and will probably not hesitate to try anything else from Lagunitas Brewing.
And if I hadn’t talked about Emiliano’s in this blog before then I should well have. I have not had a dish from there yet I did not enjoy. Now, a small word of caution, if you are like me and have problems with shellfish their menu is usually Mediterranean fair and several dishes will involve shellfish. But you can find something on there you can eat.
Until next time, as the Blarneyman says “Enjoy Every Moment!!”