Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery (Minneapolis, MN)

Beautiful bar and brewery.  One of the prettiest presentations
of a brew house I've seen. 
Rock Bottom of Minneapolis is an opportunity brewpub for me.  If the opportunity arises, I happily drink there.  But, I never go out of my way for it and don't have RB growlers.  And, it's not that it isn't good, but the driving distance to parking hassle to cool beer ratio just doesn't add up well enough to draw me into its orbit unless I'm already there for something else.

So what draws me in?  In 2006, RB kindly hosted a MN Home Brewers meeting that I attended, accommodating the club's needs and effectively serving the whole group.  It's also an easy pre-show dinner stop or a nearby warm up for the Target Center or a Twins game.  From more visits than I can count, I've always found RB to be fast and attentive enough for a quick pint and food to get you out the door to your downtown activity.

Tonight, RB is host to the One Voice post-show gathering of the 25th Anniversary performance down the street at The Cowles Center.  We seemed to be as big as the entire front bar, so the servers frantically tried to get us fed.  While so many people descending on a place will generally cause some delays, I was amazed that I got an accurate bill for just my fare at the end of the night.  Plus, I was never without a beer in hand.  Win.

Having fun with friends, I have no real notes for tonight's beers.  However, this sampling seems to represent my overall experience at RB over the years.  Walking in the door, the OV hop heads excitedly ordered the double IPA Double Down.  The color and taste were both hazy and muddled, lacking the crisp hop clarity of a top notch double IPA.  Good, but not strong enough to inspire another draft.  My wife Gloria ordered a pint of Coconut Chai Stout, which didn't disappoint from its name: clear coconut and more than clear chai, but the overall result confused us.  I hate both coconut and chai, but didn't mind the stout; my wife loves both ingredients, but was clearly unimpressed.
Back area reserved for a One Voice party.  Very fun--everyone
in the photo is a part of OV

Between name and style, my next draft had to be the Raging Oompa-Loompa Belgian IPA.  Not reading anthing about the beer, I assume it's an allusion to Raging Bitch IPA, the epitome of the style in my opinion.  Had I not been distracted by the table advertising for the Double Down, this would have been my first draft.  It has a serious Belgian yeast twang, plus the hops clear both the sinuses and the palate (a compliment from me).  Really love this beer and would be perfectly happy drinking it all night.  Gloria and friend Robin ordered a limited bottle of Belgian ale called Mort Noir.  Dark and full bodied, I was moderately impressed with the small sample I was allowed to tastethe ladies were much happier with it, so they reserved the remainder of the bottle for themselves.  Fine by me since I was slowing sipping my funked up hops.

Ended with the Belgian Grand Cru.  While a better than average beer, the grand cru was low on the richness I expect from the style, but was a nice beer to tipple the night away until we were asked to move to the front bar, shutting down the party a bit before bar close.  Probably should have stayed with the Belgian IPA, but, as is often true, I got drawn in by the hunt for new over old.  As with most trips at RB, there's a lot of middle of the road good beer bracketed by one that I'd be happy to drink multiple drafts and a miss or two.  Because I'm generally on a timetable when here, it sometimes takes longer than I have to find a favorite.  While the beers are consistently good, great is more sporadic, which is why I lack the confidence to order impunity like I do at Town Hall.  If I were planning a large get together in downtown with an exceptionally flexible and hard working staff, Rock Bottom is the place to go.

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