Arriving late Friday afternoon in Raleigh, in advance of the World Beer Fest, we had time to check out a couple of local brewpubs in the evening. I was happy to have Ray Johnson riding along with me, as Ray makes a point of being informed on the local attractions. First stop, Big Boss Brewing. Through the foreboding entrance, up the dark stairs to the pub, first order of business... food. What's that you say? No food? I'm jaded by the regulations in VA that require pubs to have a certain percentage of food sales in relation to alcohol sold. No matter, we'll have a beer, then continue on our hunt for dinner.
I ordered the Big Boss One Meatball. The beer tender described it as an ESB. The beer poured a dark copper color. It had a lightly sweet caramel flavor with a mild hop bitterness. It was easy to drink and refreshing after the long drive. Ray ordered the brewery's Bad Penny Brown Ale. We finished our beers and headed out in search of food and more beer.
Our next stop was the Boylan Bridge brewpub. This new brewery opened just two months ago. Along with house beers, the pub offers a few guest taps. When we arrived I noted three house beers listed on the chalkboard; Rail Pale Ale, Gaston Golden, and Trainspotter Scottish Ale. But as soon as I sat down at the bar the Scottish Ale was being erased. Drat, down to two, so I opted for the Rail Pale Ale. The Pale Ale is copper-orange in color, with a thin white head. There's a faint hop aroma. The flavor is mild citrus hops with a balance of sweet malt. It was an enjoyable, if ordinary, pale ale. I ordered a burger and fries to enjoy with the beer and the food was quite tasty. The kitchen is right behind the bar so you can see the chefs at work through a small window.
One thing that was immediately obvious was the lack of traffic in the brew pub. It was Friday evening and there were plenty of tables available. There is also an outside patio area. From my vantage point at the bar, they seemed to be pouring as much wine as beer. Unfortunately, the beer menu was down to just two house beers, and three or four guest taps from other local breweries. I opted to have an Old BullDog ESB from another North Carolina brewer, Aviator Brewing. This was a light and crisp beer with a bit of lingering bitterness. (I also got to sample a few other Aviator beers during course of the festival weekend and they were all quite good.)
It was a treat to try out two Raleigh brewpubs during the evening. I had been told in advance to check out the new Boylan Bridge brewery so I was disappointed that so few house beers were available. The establishment is pretty new and perhaps they've not gotten into a groove maintaining their beer supply. The service was friendly and prompt, so I will look forward to another visit in the future, when I'll hopefully get to try a few more of their beers.
Next up, World Beer Fest...