Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Boulder Tap House (St. Cloud, MN)


Recently, the last day of CTAM has conflicted with Autumn Brew Review.  Last year, I went to the morning meetings in Bloomington and quickly headed down to the fest.  With CTAM in St. Cloud this year, I finally capitulated and missed my first ABR since it started.  In reality, it's a relief to break the string and I'll go again when I'm motivated in the future.  For a re-cap of this year's festival, read my friend Al who continued his string.

However, this left me with the urge for a beer score and The Boulder Tap was going to be it.  Across the street from the hotel, the Boulder Tap taunted me through the weekend and I headed over under the guise of checking it out for next year's conference to replace the disappointing beer of our stop at Granite City.  I announced my intention and nearly a dozen folks joined me for some convention afterglow before heading our separate ways.

I took point, got a table set up for the gang and perused the 41 taps for something new. Hard to pass up a beer named Super IPA, so ordered the New Belgium, which arrived in a small goblet and had a great nose and pleasing bite.  A very "super" start.

With very little in the way of vegetarian offerings on the menu, I settled what turned out to be tasty fish tacos.  Being distracted by good conversation, I hastily ordered the next unfamiliar beer when asked by an attentive waitress: Lucette Brewing's Shining Dawn. Very light pale yellow Belgian ale. With a mouthfeel slightly more full than it appears, it's a solid Belgian that has some assertive spice but won't scare the neophyte.  Wrong beer to go with fish tacos, but that's my fault.  Favorable reports on the food from the gang, so I'm guessing we'll return during CTAM next year for one of the evening meals. We ordered two desserts to share for the dozen of us, but a bite of each was enough.

With most of a pint left when everyone left for home, I drifted over to the bar to watch the rest of the Purdue football game on a big screen TV to finish my Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA.  I love the name of this beer, but I wasn't crazy about it: stark white head that falls with a film over a hazy amber hued yellow ale. A little watery but bright hops blended with fruity yeast esters redeems the beer a bit.

Two things I love in a bar: comfortable bars stools that aren't too tall and under bar hooks for my bag, both of which contributed to nearly two hours of reading while sipping at the beautiful U shaped granite bar.  One of our group noted that this building used to be a Timber Lodge. A bartender confirmed this and added that it was abandoned for a couple of years before being reborn on Jan 16th of this year as The Boulder Tap House.

Final draft of the trip: Dark Horse Plead the Fifth
Sitting at the bar, I noticed a lot of macro brew and hard drinks besides the craft brew. The bar conveniently puts the tap date on every beer; for example, the Hop Session had been on since 6/23 and it's mid September now. Looking over the other dates, this was an anomaly.  I admire the honesty--a lot--but it seems that they may be ahead of the curve for the clientele.  However, as counterpoint, the Tallgrass 8 Bit with it's assertive to harsh hop bite had already blown the keg.  So, maybe the locals are breaking the hop curve.

Overall, The Boulder Tap House is an excellent stop that was a suitable salve for missing ABR and a bar that I'm looking forward to revisiting again, especially since CTAM is planned for the same location for the next two years.  Cheers to us!

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