Friday, April 18, 2014

Bar #56 Spitfire Saloon

A longer time ago than I'm happy with I decided to write this blog. When it began, it wasn't simply about going to the great bars. Every Bar in Lakewood was about exploring all the opportunities and leaving my comfort zone. This week's bar was the epitome of this idea; though a favorite among some of more talkative Facebook commenters. The Spitfire Saloon is bar #56 and the #1 bar I wanted to visit when I began.
*Disclaimer: Spitfire Saloon isn't in Lakewood. Lakewood is on the other side of the street. After a good bit of debate on Facebook, it was decided that it would be included. This was because the readers wanted it to be and a new rule was created: if I can hit the bar with a snowball from Lakewood, then it's close enough to be on the list. Plus, what's more punk than being on the list of Ever Bar in Lakewood and not being part of Lakewood. It turns out, Lakewood is still part of the Spitfire Saloon anyway.
The Spitfire Saloon is a punk concert bar with a reputation, at least in the past of being high in levels of face stabbing and only a good place for punk fans to frequent. It later got a sign and rumors said that it was friendlier place. It's also now a favorite of the nerdy arts community. Yes, we have one of those.

After some confusion about how to schedule going to a kitchenless bar, we showed up full of Mexican food. The first thing you notice when entering the Spitfire is that it's very formidable against zombie attacks. Once you enter your eyes are drawn to a claw machine. It's your normal shirt machine except for one little difference. The claw has to drop 10 feet until it reaches the prizes. Normally, I'm not good at claw machines. Needing to look up to watch the claw and look down to see its destination reinforced the norm. Three dollars later I had no shirt.

I spent my next two bucks on a Fat Tire Beer by New Belgium. I found it disappointing, perhaps hot had temporarily changed my palate. It seemed to be clean but had a secondary taste that none of us could place. I came up with lame, if lame had a taste, this was it. It had a super dry finish as well. Fat Tire Beer was quite drinkable and had a great price for the evening, but I don't think it lived up to expectations.

My second beer was (picked by the bartender) Monk Blood by 21st Amendment. It had a dark reddish color, like it's name sake, and almost no head. The beer had a cherry mixed with other good stuff flavor. It didn't have much alcohol taste and was super drinkable. At 8.6% alcohol this may be the most dangerous beer I've ever drank. I'm not the biggest fan of cherryish beers but by the time you finish the first can, you want another 6 pack of em.

There are items to catch your eyes all over the bar. Between interesting stickers, TVs with the Indians game, a half dozen custom made arcade games built by the owner, two claw machines, an interesting selection of people and a dog. The bartender was friendly, talkative and helpful. He was able to accurately pick out a quality beer both with specifications and without.

There was a diverse selection of people in the bar. You had your old men, a higher percentage than normal amount of tattoos and dark rimmed glasses, and a woman that both got shot down by one of the guys watching baseball and brought in her own sushi. There was no face stabbing and everybody was having a good time. The bar was fairly busy on a Thursday evening.

The arcade games, 3 of which are built into the booth tables, were full of old school console games. I started on Solomon's Key. This is a puzzle game, where you can create and destroy blocks, shoot fireballs that you find, and then die in frustration. My Nintendo skills did not translate into the arcade controls raising my frustration levels and causing arm flailingness to occur. This may simply be a side effect of the Monks Blood. I then moved onto Super Mario Bros. I figured I'd get a ton of play out of a quarter. I figured wrong. I found myself incompetent at controlling my jumps and only made it to the 2nd board even with two extra lives. Saddened by my newly found abundance of fail I moved to a different booth with different games. I didn't write down the next game's name. It starts with a large ape lighting your tent and butt on fire. You then angrily attempt to climb a mountain to smite him while avoiding neon green monkeys and an endless assault of monkey testicles...
I used the bathroom in the basement. To get there involves going through a maze in the depths of hell. There were crazy red stripes, an anus symbol and somebody's organ on the floor. There was also an extra hallway that smelled of smoke.
The music at Spitfire Saloon is primarily punk. The shows are free. If you can't make it to see your favorite band, they also stream all their shows for free. The band is paid directly by the bar, which includes a tape of their set. If there's no band playing, the (Scene award winning) jukebox is free as well. The only restrictions are you have to be at least 21 years old and you can't throw up in the urinal.

They have a contraption that shoots beer bottles at a wall. I didn't see it but the awesomeness of its existence must be brought up. They were also, theoretically, the first bar on the planet with a half pipe in within.

“When we opened their was no bar that catered to people that thought, dressed and lived outside the norm. People would go to just whatever bar, even though the owners thought they where undesirables.” -Spitfire Punk

I love this bar. I feel biased writing about Spitfire Saloon at this point. It's got the basic makeup of the type of bar I'm looking for. It's excited about what it provides and to whom and builds community. It's a dive bar but has a fantastic selection of beer. If it doesn't have the beer you want, they'll have an alternative you'll like more. There's crazy arcade games all over the place. They have a scary basement bathroom, this is preferred over mediocre and disgusting bathrooms. They make their bands happy. This bar is not for everyone. But if you aren't happy with the other bars you've found, then you're probably looking for bar #56, Spitfire Saloon.

1539 W 117th St. Cleveland
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