Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hog Wild in Arkansas

Day two of our journey takes us 450 miles east to the Razorback-crazy state of Arkansas, town of Little Rock. We have upgraded from the Econo Lodge to the La Quinta Inn. Yeah, laugh, but it is actually the nicest La Quinta I have ever seen. They put us up in a great room on the 10th floor with a great view and everything. They must read my blog.
Damn, it is HOT here! So hot that we decided to drive the 9/10ths of a mile to our first stop, Boscos, located on the riverfront. Boscos is a brewpub chain that we were visiting for the first time. The place was busy. It is in the heart of the tourist area right down the street from the convention center, and the decor is a little more upscale to reflect the clientele. We showed up when the IPA keg kicked, so the bartender had to go change it. You'd think they would have somebody available to do that so the bartender could stay and take care of an almost full bar, but who knows. Maybe they were short staffed that day.

We ordered an 8 beer sampler, which had a variety of beers such as Flaming Stone (5%), which is their flagship. It was easy enough to throw back, but I wouldn't buy a pint. Bombay IPA (6.2%) reminded me of Sierra because of all the Cascade hops. Downtown Brown (5.6%) was very good, with a caramel chewiness that I enjoyed. Isle of Skye Scottish Ale was not too "Scottish", and that was ok. I could drink more than one without feeling like I was stuck on Band-Aid brand 'cause Band-Aid's stuck on me. Hookslide is a seasonal beer that is nice and light for the convention folks. Another seasonal was the hefeweizen, which was a perfect representation of the style, if a bit light at 4.4%. The Big Damn Pale Ale (5%) was not big, but you may say "Damn! This isn't a pale ale!" after you try it. This is because they use German hops exclusively in this beer so it is a more subtle flavor. The best of the bunch was the Dry Irish Stout (5.4%), which actually wasn't that dry. It had an almost tiramisu-ish flavor that made me wish I had ordered a sweet dessert to drink it with. I hadn't even had dinner yet. I think the last food I had before that was a burrito from the Taco Mayo chain in Sallisaw, Ok.

We parked back at the hotel, yeah, that's right, hotel , and walked through the thick humidity (heat index 115 degrees)the seven blocks to Vino's Brewpub. Vino's is one of those gems that seem out of place in a city like Little Rock. The brewing area is housed in a closet-sized space, but they crank out six or so beers at a time. On tap when we were there were the Pinnacle IPA Firehouse Pale, Rainbow Wheat, Dry Irish Stout, Cream Ale, and some guest taps from Diamond Bear (Little Rock) and macro favorites. They also had Bitburger from Germany and a couple of New Belgium taps, including the Le Fleur Misseur, which I have never seen in New Mexico.

We lined up on this busy Sunday night at the counter to order our beers and pizza and of course we got in line just behind the guys who were each getting four growlers filled. I started to worry about the 10 pm Sunday closing time when we finally got to the front of the line.
I was hoping to have the double IPA but it wasn't available this time around. We had been there back in 2006 and had it then, after a 900 mile driving marathon from Albuquerque. The mix of driving and alcohol made for a nice night!

We each had the regular IPA, which was good but even better was the atmosphere to drink the beer in. The place itself is on the divey side, but is comfortable and quirky.

There is a large back room where bands play, and an outdoor section that you access through the storage area, where you can view sacks upon sacks of barley used in the brewing process.

They also make some killer calzones, which we ordered to go when we ordered our second beer, the dry Irish stout. This beer was very dry, and probably shouldn’t have been ordered after an IPA.

On the subject of something that should have been left unordered was a slice of pizza we got along with the calzones. It seemed like it had been sitting around for a long time and then thrown back in the oven. It was like taking a person who had been at the beach all day without sunscreen and putting them in a tanning bed for an hour at the end of the day. But this is a beer trip, not a foodie trip so I am done with the complaining.
I wouldn’t have served that to a customer though.

We had to cut the night short, as we were in the bible belt and closing time was at 10 pm. They actually called last call at 8:45, so it was good we got there when we did. It would have sucked to get there at 9 or so without being able to get a beer!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Reason one I hate Arkansas my old home: 8:45 last call and 10:00pm shut down.
Reason two I hate Arkansas my old home: Dry counties, and the bible belt.
Reason three I hate Arkansas my old home: It's Arkansas.