With additional content by the Dining Companion
The Dining Companion -
The pretentious craft beer movement & WOB:
I have a working knowledge of beer. I by no means consider myself an expert of anything more than what I like to consume. I remember with a sense of irony the days of my dad & uncles having Schlitz, Hamms, Olympia, PBR & Old Milwaukee in cans long before they were ‘recreated’ for the younger crowds. I enjoyed many a ‘craft’ beer in the day. The craft beer was of the variety or type referred to as ‘Bock’, and it was brought in the form of Leine’s returnables that my dorm neighbor from Wisconsin preferred to stock. ‘Bock’ for those not in the know was the variety of beer that German monks brewed for lent for consumption whilst fasting.
Leine’s Bock has long disappeared. I had long forgotten the taste of a bock beer until about 12 years ago when I ordered the happy hour special at a bar in San Antonio TX. It was there that I was introduced to the local ‘cheap’ beer referred to as a ‘Shiner’. I was somewhat familiar with the name of the other Texas beer -Lone Star (they made ‘generic’ beer during the early 80’s), but had never tasted a Shiner as I recalled. Shiner ordered as a ‘Shiner’ is Shiner Bock. By the time I had finished my first one, I had totally recalled the Leine’s of old and was hooked.
To this day I enjoy Shiner. When I’m in Texas, I enjoy sitting on the patio with a pitcher of it front of me. When I’m not where I can get it on tap, I actively seek places where I can enjoy a bottle of it. When I can’t find Shiner by name, I can be satisfied by some other brand of bock, if it can be found, which leads me to the second part of this story.
Apparently there has been something called a craft beer movement in the past few years. I don’t follow these things, and I’m not hip enough to be included in the know. I am familiar with the product of smaller breweries. With this I mean August Schells, Spoetzl (home of Shiner), & Sam Adams. I am also familiar with home brewing via my brother. The craft beer movement has led to product in the market place known as the ‘gastropub’, specifically for this writing ‘World of Beer’.
It appears that one of the draws of a ‘gastropub’ is their large selection of beers. I am familiar with this concept as well. Before the gastropub, it was called Old Chicago. My main problem with Old Chicago and the new gastropubs is what they consider ‘cool enough’ to stock. Now let’s be clear, when they talk about having 400 different beers, that ain’t what they have on tap, it's bottles kept in the cooler.
Specifically this World of Beer has 40 beers on tap. This time of year, its Octoberfest themed beers or maybe something fall or pumpkin inspired. Not what I was interested on this day. Prior to coming to this location, I checked their website for beers I would be interested in trying specific to this location. When I checked for bock, only 1 bottled selection came up (nothing on tap). Several doppelbocks came up, but I don’t care for doppelbocks much after a bad experience with a triple bock. With only 1 bock choice, I picked a couple of schwarzbiers as fall back choices.
I tried the bock choice; it wasn’t bad, but nothing special. I tried 3 other beers. The first was 1 of the schwarzbiers I had written down prior to coming. Two of my other written down ones weren’t in stock. Two remaining were recommended by the bartender. The first was good, the other one wasn’t. The food overall was pretty good & I leave it to the HappiTraveler to sum up.
Now this leads me to my rant about craft beers, gastropubs and what they stock. What pegs the cool meter enough to get a place on your menu? It can’t be the size of your brewery. As I look over the glass face cooler in front of me, I see plenty of brewers the size of MillerCoors, but with foreign names. I see Paulaner, Heineken and Hacker-Pschorr, but no Shiner. It also can’t be for variety or uniqueness of brew. Shiner has really good seasonal or limited run brews easily equivalent to the Abita varieties you stock. I guessing you don’t stock Shiner because the brewery doesn’t have a cool name like SweatySock or CoolChinHair and is older than 10 years. The irony of your PBR tall boys is lost on me.
This leads me to recall the ultimate in pretension. It was not World of Beer, WOB is a poser compared to The Friendly Spot in San Antonio. At Friendly’s you could get Shiner Ruby Redbird on one of their 75 taps in back, but if you wanted Shiner Bock, you had to consume it from a bottle obtained at the front bar (you heathen).
The HappiTraveler -
The Dining Companion had a short list of things he wanted to try. Some of the beers on his list were available and some that he tried were recommended by the bartender. (I'll pause here to give a shout out to the bartender Andrew(?) for being friendly and knowledgeable about what he sells)
I did order a couple of things from the WOB's tavern menu. A pretty decent burger and a huge Bavarian style pretzel. The picture below won't properly convey the size of that pretzel. The thing was as big as a dinner plate. It came with mustard and I added a house-made cheese sauce. I loved it.The burger was really flavorful and cooked properly. The Chimay cheese was one I hadn't tried before. I'll be searching it out in the shops now that I know of it.
CHIMAY BURGER - Fresh Angus beef burger piled high with Chimay Classique
cheese, sautéed mushrooms, & caramelized onions. Served on
a brioche bun with house-made Chimay sauce.
GERMAN PRETZEL - A WOB original & tavern favorite. A giant Bavarian pretzel baked
soft on the inside, crispy on the outside & salted. Served with
house-made stone ground mustard.