According to my notes, 2002 was the last time I logged a beer at Bryant Lake Bowl. I think I've been there since--just no new beers on tap for me. My recollections of BLB walking in the door again was of an adequate tap list, memorable pad thai and a night of fun but frustrating bowling due to some lanes, though pitchers of Summit smoothed out the rough patches. Last night's Friday night gathering of Sibley friends was a revelation.
Finding a truly amazing beer for the first draft helped the night along: Bourbon Barrel Aged Bell's 9000. Boozy bourbon wafts above a dark ale with an original gravity of over 1.100. Big beer with a complex taste of wood, chocolate, vanilla and sweetness that's smooth, elegant and slightly overbalanced from the high alcohol. A real treat by itself, but it also happens to be the "batch" beer that I was missing. Before last night, I've been able to sample, 5000, 6000, 7000, 8000 and 10,000. Better to be lucky than good, I guess, but frequently good bars will tend to make one lucky as well.
The food is also fantastic. My wife had the mock duck rolls, which she reported as very good--good enough that I didn't get a sample. I did the pad thai with mock dock and my recall on this dish was spot on. Dan ordered medium compared to my hot, which Lori compared and said mine was significantly hotter, as expected; my bald head was sweating slightly, but it wasn't stupid spicey--just nicely at the limit. Plus, I had purposely ordered a double IPA, Bell's Hopsolution, to counterpoint with high hop: an excellent combination that I would love to repeat.
My wife was surprised at how loud it was sitting in the restaurant, but, evidently, she's always been there late at night or not on a Friday. With a full house and a waiting list for the bowling lanes, I was hoarse after our three hour dine and drink session with friends. Not an uncomfortable volume for our group of six and everyone could participate in the conversation, but it did take a bit of effort to speak.
For entertainment, in between the other drafts, I had a little beer you may have heard of...Surly Darkness. With a half a dozen additional beers that I would happily drink, Bryant Lake Bowl has seemingly upped its beer game. I saw on an RSS feed that BLB did have a Bell's event tapping earlier in the week, so maybe we picked a good night is all. But, I intend to test the theory in the near future and not wait so long to return to Bryant Lake Bowl.