Beer week: Smith Commons and The Argonaut

For those of you who didn’t know, this week is actually American Craft Beer Week.  Throughout the different states there are special events going on for craft beer lovers to enjoy hard to get drafts, meet and greet different brewers, and get some free swag.  Therefore, last night John and I headed down to Smith Commons for the special Bells event they were holding down there.  It was billed as having Two Hearted Ale, Oarsman Ale, and Hopslam.  As I have never actually enjoyed having Hopslam, this was my main reason for wanting to go.  However, after waiting a little while to get the attention of the bartender, we were finally told that they had run out of the Hopslam in the first half hour of being open.  Guess a $5 Hopslam special is bound to do that.  Slightly disappointed we decided to grab a glass of Two Hearted and count our loses out on the lovely porch they have built.  Two Hearted is, at least in my opinion, a pretty standard beer from Bells; therefore, I really didn’t put too much thought into the different flavors that were present or anything.  It’s a very good American IPA, probably one of the more enjoyable one I have had in a while.  They don’t really rely too much on the citrus aspects in their IPA, it has a much meatier feel to it.  From there, still disappointed about missing out on the Hopslam, we decided to switch over to a Dogfish Head that neither of us have had: Palo Santo Marron.

Normally, when I’m considering trying a new beer I’m very knowledgeable about what it is that I’m getting; however, I hadn’t looked into this one at all.  Therefore, when John came back with two snifter glasses full of a very dark beer, I was very curious to see what kind of flavors we had going on here.  Having not looked into it at all, I immediately thought that I was dealing with some sort of porter or stout.  I have had quite a few porters as of late at Rock Bottom Brewery after my hockey games, and I was certain this was falling right in line with a similar flavor profile.  It had a lot of coffee, caramel, and chocolate flavors in there.  But there was too much carbonation for it to be considered a stout. However, looking it up today, I see that Dogfish Head bills this as a brown ale.  This has to be the heaviest brown ale I’ve ever had.  Apparently, Dogfish ages this brew in barrels made of Palo Santo wood.  I don’t believe I have ever really had a beer aged in barrels made of this wood before, so I am certain that has a huge effect on the flavor.  After enjoying both of these beers, we decided it was time to move on and see what else we could find in the area; plus I hadn’t had dinner and was quite hungry. Evidently, if I was a bigger beer geek, I could have gotten tickets to see someone from Bells talk about the history of the company and their two biggest beers, but I decided I would much rather eat some good food.

We walked the two blocks over to The Argonaut and managed to grab two seats at their brand new open air outdoor bar.  When the place burned down somewhere around a year ago they made some huge changes to their place.  One of the biggest was cutting out the back wall of the bar and adding seating on the patio that connected to the bar inside.  A great idea I’m surprised I don’t see more.  I picked up the newest release from DC Brau: The Penn Quarter Porter.  One thing really stuck out to me when the bartender brought it over.  The head on the beer was almost as dark as the rest of the beer.  I was certain this would be a very heavy beer.  Evidently, this beer is a limited edition draft only release from DC Brau.  Therefore, if you don’t live in the DC area, you’ll probably miss out on this one.  It was an excellent porter.  Very heavy and very deep chocolate and coffee flavors.  Brau notes that it borders between a porter and a stout.  Therefore, it isn’t for the light beer drinker at all.

All in all, it was a great night out celebrating craft beer week.  I doubt I’ll make it back out anywhere this week.  However, if you’re looking for somewhere to go this week, Smith Commons is having Dogfish Head tonight, DC Brau on Thursday, Great Lakes on Friday, and Flying Dog on Saturday.  For anyone who didn’t get the Hellhound on my Ale release from Dogfish, it will be at Smith Commons tonight.  Don’t forget to get there early or you may not get a taste at all. Trust Me!

So wherever you live, do some research and see what events are going on around you.  Head out and be supportive of the hardworking American brewers that are trying to save us from Anheuser- Busch.

Oh and we had a Spike Mendelsohn, of Top Chef, sighting as we were leaving.  I’d like to think he was out supporting Craft Beer Week as well.


1 Comment

  1. Yeah, everything happens ten times as fast when Hopslam is involved. Too bad. This year’s batch was really good. Still, it looks like you did okay. I think that Palo Santo Marron is the only beer aged in Palo Santo wood. You have to be careful or it will knock you on your ass. I agree that there’s probably not a more potent brown ale anywhere.

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