Monday, June 24, 2013

Bar #42: World of Beer (Deceased)

Imagine, if you will, a bar that has the beer you want. Whether it be from a specific brewer, beer genre, combination of tastes or even just a favorite state or country, they have the beer you want. To be faced with this beer mecca would be overwhelming to most. Imagine if this sphere of bier also had a guide that knew and understood the treasures held within this bar. Such a place could be the “answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything,” or at least where to get the exact beer I want. The answer to all of this is 42. Bar #42 is the World of Beer.

I had been to the World of Beer on their soft opening party. Obviously, the official review of the new bar couldn't be on a night when their entire staff was working and they knew how many people were coming. I rarely let the chain bars have an easy go due to their deep pockets, preplanned setup and (normally) their higher prices. This isn't to say if I have a good time and nothing goes wrong that I'm going to spite them anyway for being successful.

There were around 15 people at the World of Beer when we arrived which is only a drop in the bucket to the large bar. Since we had a bunch of people coming we took a table over sitting at the bar. The bar is nice, you get a good view of all the beer options or the band area. I like the idea of sitting at the bar. It raises the chances of talking to new people but it can drop the chances of keeping everyone with you in the conversation.

I sat down at a stole at the table and literally made an oooh sound. It may be the most comfortable stole in Lakewood. Most of their seating is nicely cushioned and black.
We got all our menus together to figure out what we wanted to order. These menus include the list of 50 beers on draft and 500+ beers in bottle. The menu talks about the types of beers, what goes into them, and some featured breweries. A new menu to Lakewood's World of Beer is craft spirits. They do their best to bring in locally brewed liquors. Included in this menu are a line of cocktails made from beers as well.
World of Beer doesn't make craft foods. What they do do is offer a menu full of other restaurant’s menus that will deliver to you. Lakewood's WoB gives you options such as Dominos, and the neighboring Eddie N' Eddie's and Jimmy Johns. You call them and they bring it to the table. We ordered from both Jimmy Johns and Eddie N' Eddies. ENE arrived about 30 seconds before JJ with their check. After paying it, I turned around to receive Jimmy John's check and food.

I ordered the molten burger from Eddie N' Eddies. It was awesome. It included fried jalapenos and onions, Sriracha and cheddar cheese. I ordered their pretzel and beer cheese, which was bready and the cheese was alright.
Johnny immediately called Jimmy Johns after they left. This caused brief bit of confusion over the phone as he gave them our table number again. Luckily for them this lead to a better tip than if our orders had been combined.
My first beer was almost some honey bee beer concoction but luckily I tried it first. It's very sweet and a glass would have been unfortunate. What I did start with was Evil Twin Ryan and The Easter Bunny. It was both slightly sour and hoppy. It was easy to drink with a mild but complex taste, with a bit of small bubbled fizz.

The staff at World of Beer goes to a beer school to learn about beer from the basics to brands. This allows them to help their customers find everything they do and don't want out of the World of Beer's large selection, using real information and not just saying that their other customers buy that.

The first whiskey off of World of Beer's new spirit menu was Cleveland Whiskey. They use a technology to compress their brew in smaller casks to speed up the process. The results a very clean and drinkable whiskey.

They now have an additional liquor school, so that they can properly serve their customers their newest products. We learned this from Sean the General Manger. From him we also learned that the after taste of Jim Bean is compared to furniture polish.

This brings up a prohibition moonshining poem:

Lincoln, Lincoln, what on Earth have you been drinking?
Smells like whisky.
Tastes like wine.
Oh my gosh, it's turpentine!

I also learned this night that bourbon from nonKentucky breweries, legally, must be casked in Kentucky.

Sean, the General Manager, makes his way around the bar during the night to talk to people and make sure everyone is having a good time. Even on nights when I'm not there I have been told this is the case.
Free Facials and Hotdogs!  You must be 21 and over to drink beer but your sense of humor doesn't.
World of Beer is classy looking, with lots of TVs, leather furniture and is a comfortable location even if you're wearing a suit. It is obvious that the place is a chain that probably looks nearly identical at any of their locations. Normally, this would be enough lead me to go somewhere else. World of beer has an enormous craft beer selection, great service by people that know their product, comfortable seating, access to great food and a manager who really does give a damn about his bar. Normally, this would be enough for me to shout kudos for the bar from the roof tops. Where does that leave us? There is a reason why a bar becomes a chain. They have created a product and environment that lots of people like. Beer may or may not be the meaning of life, the universe and everything. If it is, then the answer is Bar #42, World of Beer, the bar to go to if you love craft beer or would like to.

14701 Detroit Ave

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bar #41 McGinty's Pub

Has a bar you ever really like closed and reopened as a different kind of bar? Did you secretly hope that you would hate the new bar. More importantly did it skew your perspective of this bar to like it less? This week a brewery asked me to try their new beer and return to the location of one of favorite, but now deceased, bars. Bar #41 is the recently resurrected McGinty's Pub.

First impressions: 1. Damn it, this place looks really nice. 2. They have a lot of beer on tap. 3. There are no females here. 4. This place looks like a bizarro version of the Church Bar.

First, the place is a nice mixture of classy and pub. There are leather couches, vintage light bulbs, a black fabric pool table and everything else is pretty nice as well.
They've added a new row of taps giving everyone a ridiculous amount of options. The 24 taps are separated into groups of four including fruit beers, (at least four) IPAs, eight Irish pub staples, four staples that for the most part don’t change and the last four are always revolving. The general manager Trent is still figuring out what he customers like, so the list will keep getting better with age. If you come visit in the coming months you'll be able to help craft which craft beers the pub will carry.
Recently a new brewery out of Elyria by the name of Franklin Brewing Company contacted me on Facebook. We have been posting back and forth. They have quickly found an initial bar in Lakewood to carry their new brew. They also quickly found a technology company to help them give people their new beer, Richard's Pale Ale, for free. I partook of this opportunity only 1 week later than I had planned, luckily they brought in another keg full of potentially free beer. I was horrified that I would hate their beer. If it sucked, I couldn't review differently. As much as I try to give bars a good spin, I try to be as honest as possible. It turns out, I did like it. I would have happily paid money for Franklin Brewing Company's Richard's Pale Ale. It's got a nice color to it and not too much or to little head. Richard's is a bit bitter but good to most people that like pale ales. It's also fairly light and very drinkable, a good summer choice.  Franklin Brewing Company even makes its taps in its brewery.
Two weeks ago, my wife and I were watching the History channel. A commercial for New Castle's new Bombshell repeatedly came on talking us into wanting one. I gave Johnny the mission to find them for a camp fire we were having that night. After calling to the local stores he was basically told that he was making stuff up. It turns out McGinty's Pub carries it. I of course had to try this mysterious beer. It has an interesting mix of flavor that appears to include butterscotch, honey, and almonds. This allows it to be a better than average golden ale that keeps you interested the entire glass but is light enough to allow for mass consumption.
During the first hour of our stay in McGinty's, the bar was full but women wouldn't show up till the Indians game was most of the way over. The bar is age range is basically 21-91 but mostly under 35. I'm not good at figuring out peoples ages unless I simply take a poll of everyone. That's why I usually don't bring it up but will probably add it in for the rest later on.

The reference to bizarro Church Bar is that a lot of the bar is the same but painted dark green. This includes the bar, 2/3rds of the taps, seating, fireplace except there isn't a green Mr. T. That being said why would they get rid of all the really nice furniture that was already there. It's a nice looking comfortable bar, I want to go there and sit in their second room and pretend it's my living room.

Here's quick story of McGinty's. Around the turn of the millennia Mr. McGinty and his two sons opened the bar. A couple years later the father wanted out and the sons were busy with their own cool stuff. Some new people took over and kept the name. In 2005, the owner of the Harry Buffalo bars bought it and turned it into the Church Bar. The Church Bar did well but not Harry Buffalo well. The Church Bar's owners approached Pat McGinty (original owner and owner of Plank Road Tavern.) He and 3 others bought it back and reopened McGinty's Pub.

McGinty's Pub has a great looking, comfortable environment with a friendly staff and a lot of good beer on staff. Trent the general manager is putting a lot of thought into the beer selection and it shows. I didn't want to like this bar but now I'm already looking forward to going back again soon. If you've ever asked why does Lakewood need another Irish bar, go to bar #41 and you'll see it's because McGinty's Pub (2.0) wasn't there yet.

The new bartender's first professional pour ever!
13751 Madison Ave.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bar #40 Barrio

The list of Every Bar in Lakewood has slowly expanded since last July. I've had bars open in a new locations. Some bars weren't originally on the list and added later. There have also been the bars that have closed and been replaced by Mexican bars (by July 2013 the count will hit 3.) This week I go back to the location of my now deceased favorite bar. Barrio is bar #40 and the first bar location I'm doing a second new bar blog at.
Entering Barrio is almost overwhelming. The tables and bar were packed. The walls are coved in a skeletal Mexican fiesta. The bar bottles are all glowing along with a bright stained glass window in their center. Basically, there is awesome going on everywhere you look. I was greeted by my favorite bartender/waitress Vicky (sadly, she wasn't my waitress tonight) and proceeded to wait for our table to be ready.

I made my way to the glowing Mecca that was the bar and ordered Revolution's Bottom Up Wit. This is one of my favorite wheat beers. That's not the story which unfolds at this moment. The woman next to us at the bar, after giving us a couple inquisitive looks, asked if we were some of the people that founded the blog. We told her we were and I was the writer. She didn't believe us and quizzed me with the question: What was the bar in your first blog? Obviously, I passed. She, like myself is a big proponent of buying and eating local. We talked about our favorite bars and hers. Her preferences lean toward proximity to home and quality of food. I do like talking to my fans . It obviously makes me feel appreciated and keeps me motivated to not get lazy on my blogs.

Then we got our table and I realized I never told Katie how many people were coming. We let who I think was the manager (I may be mistaken) know that our three person table wasn't big enough. He let us know that the newly empty table next to ours was reserved and asked when our friends would arrive. I replied that they were in the doorway. He broke down and gave us the table. Sorry, to the people that reserved the table. At least the wait was only 10 or 15 minutes.

At Barrio you don't need to use words to order. You fill in sheets of preprinted paper picking out everything you want. There was a normal menu for our liquid refreshments and we used our mouths to order those. Our waitress, who was by mildly often, asked if we had any questions but didn't add anything extra to our experience. The only problem with the service was running out of chips, which would lead to a distressed Jonn later in the evening. I would have liked a quick intro for new people. Explain how to order, that we would get chips for all the sauces and salsas on the menu and things like that. My friends explained it to me. Anyway, there were a lot of options for our tacos.
The tacos were good. I preferred the two cow options to the pig but this was due more to personal preference than anything. They have a lot of yummy options for everyone, including cheeses that make me happy. I suggest adding the slaw. Tacos are sometimes wet. Not soggy but there may be a noticeable amount of liquid to the filling. I also really liked the ghost pepper sauce. I got it on the side so I could control the amount of spice per bite. It's very spicy ,a bit peppery and not for the meek. I thought it helped bring out all the flavors. A taco is required to stop the sauce's burning as it will slowly eat away your taste buds if you only have chips or liquid to squelch it.

I liked our green salsa for our chips. It wasn't afraid to be a nice level of spicy. The chips were good, crunchy and not stale. They were also salty enough to be described as not too salty. I have been warned not to ask for salt. It is for professional application only and will not be given to you.

When one gets a small cup of super spicy liquid, one must share it. Not because sharing is caring but because most people like to watch other people eating something that's too hot. There are three parts of fun to Barrio's ghost pepper sauce. One, there is a one second delay on the heat of the sauce. Two, it stays at its peak level of hotness for the entire time that its burning continues. Three, the heat doesn't seem to disappear with time, only with eating tacos. Shortly after receiving my food and beginning eating Johnny asked me how the sauce was and if he could try it. I said I had (I hadn't) and that it was good and not too hot (it was good but it was also, too hot.) So he took piece of his tortilla from his taco and soaked it in it. He then tried it, attempted to say, “This isn't too bad.” But then quickly switched over to yelling Holy Balls. This was followed by a slew of “WOOooo”s as he then tried to drink beer to make the heat go away. This of course is like throwing water on a grease fire. This is a mutliJon story to be continued.
After our first round of tacos. Our food was gone including the chips. We had put a drink order in. I went with 5 Rabbit Golden Ale. An excellent beer with a mix of caramel and malty taste. It's a great beer to drink and a great beer to talk about with other people that talk about beer due to its complex and changing taste. Get your 5 Rabbit beers while they last, it sounds like it's owners are spending their non-brewing time suing each other. Barrio has a great list of beer and booze. It's not just a large amount of craft beers on tap but they made good decisions picking them.
Jonn at this point had decided he would try anything. I have since let him know that he needs to stipulate anything good when around or I will simply be telling him to do things for my own amusement. Jonn tried the white whisky at my prompting. It kind of tastes like vodka with dirty pebbles dissolved in it. Jonn then tried the ghost pepper sauce after I told him to chug it. He instead dipped the back end of his fork in it and dabbing it on his tongue. He went with, “Oh wow!” He was surprised by the heat, especially with the small amount they he tried. Jonn then looked around in dismay at the empty chip basket and the small glass of rancid albino whiskey. Five minutes later as Jonn had switched over to simply sulking in his misery we finally got the chips after waving down Vicky. The burn wouldn't peter out until his next taco arrived.
Barrio is a great looking bar. I loved the art work on the walls, the lit bar, the skeleton on the lit up bicycle, the matte black ceiling, even the furniture was cool in my book. There was also a surrealism that this was the location of my favorite bar. You could remember where everything was but now it was all morphed. Where I once sat and watched the NFL draft there was nothing but death...and tacos. My memories of the past tried to fit themselves into these new surroundings. Vicky, a bartender at the deceased Screaming Rooster made her way through the new settings within the old walls like a ghost of bar's past.
Number one reason to go to Barrio? Alcohol. They have one of my favorite beer selections in Lakewood. They have a lot of taco options to make a lot of great tacos but the power's in your hands; so don't mess it up. Also, they can be wet. If you take them home put them in something or they'll leave a mess in your fridge. Barrios is full of Day of the Dead Mexican fun that happily avoids looking busy in exchange for awesome. Their service is the big question, my waitress was adequate and helpful when asked. She did her job. If I wanted more information I could have gotten it. Besides the chips, she came by often for such a crowded bar. I like the order pads, they make me feel more comfortable and in control of expressing what I want to eat. Somehow, I was the last one of my friends to come to Barrio and they all complained about service from their past visits that ranged from inadequate to snide and rude. Possibly this was just the growing pains of a new bar. Where does that leave us? It's a great setting with a large variety of good stuff to drink and of tacos to eat with the possible range of great service to the not so great. In the end we will all happily go back to, bar #41, Barrio.  There is after all still an army of tequila for us to try.

15527 Madison Ave
Twitter: @barrioCLE