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Should Madison get a Belgian beer bar?

Bars, wine, beer, cocktails, drunken escapades

Should Madison get a Belgian beer bar?

Yeah! 10% alc. Trippel makes me work better.
5
38%
Sure, if they have local Belgian style beers on tap too.
2
15%
Don't Monks make Belgian beer? I'm for separation of beer and religion.
0
No votes
Belgium is old Europe - gimme a Czech beer bar.
1
8%
Only if they put bacon in their frites.
1
8%
What's wrong with Bud?
4
31%
 
Total votes : 13

Should Madison get a Belgian beer bar?

Postby doddles » Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:34 am

Madison lacks a bar that specializes in Belgian beers. Should it get one?
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Postby boston_jeff » Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:31 am

Of course, but would people here actually go just for Belgians? I just returned from Belgium, and the price of Belgian beer here is on par with that in country (of course its fresher there) so economically it makes sense. Five of the six major Belgian Trappist breweries (as well as Hoegaarden, Delerium, Leffe and Duvel) are pretty well represented in the US, but not so much at the bars here (in my limited experience). Btw, if you love real Belgian beer, don't ever drink Stella. First of all, its piss compared to real Belgians (sadly its recently become the current generation's Heineken-an extremely overrated import). Secondly, they are trying to muscle out all of the smaller breweries in Belgium, including many of the Trappist and Abbeys. Every beer person (brewery workers and beer store owners) I spoke with had nothing but vitriol for them...

I think what Madison really needs is a full service beer bar with 300-400 varieties, including 1/4, 1/2 and full yards, magnums, and table taps. I've been to many of these types of places and they always do well in college towns. Usually they have an extensive beer list with 50-100 taps and 200-300 bottles, listed by variety. That way you get the best German, Belgian, and US beers. The place I have the most experience with serves a menu a lot like the Great Dane's. I like the idea that brewpubs serve their own beer, but a place with that much variety is preferable. You can get a magnum of Duvel or Delerium on tap, try every bottle that Ayinger makes, or drink a yard of Guinness. Seasonals are plentiful, and there are usually many ciders (not my thing), meads, and fresh brewed root beer too. Usually when you order a huge draft or yard, you pay a small fee to keep the glass and the stand. And many have beer quests where if you drink most of their regular beers, you get a glass with your name on it at the bar or a free t-shirt. People like me love these places because they speak to their inner beer geek, and even those with less distinguished palattes love them because they can get a cherry Kriek or a blueberry wheat with real blueberries in them.

Let's open one up, I'm getting thirsty.
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Postby fisticuffs » Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:39 am

I would go. Rarely do they have Belgians at our Brew Pubs. Great Dane does some nice ones but they are few and afr between. JT's had one a couple of times as well. Belgian Beer IMO whoops the bejesus out of the German beers. just my taste I guess.
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Postby Rosemary » Wed Jun 27, 2007 11:39 am

I'd probably be there once a week or every two weeks, which is the same frequency with which I visit Maduro and the Dane.

I voted for the addition of local Belgian-style brews because hey, it's Madison. We love our locals.


boston_jeff wrote:People like me love these places because they speak to their inner beer geek, and even those with less distinguished palattes love them because they can get a cherry Kriek or a blueberry wheat with real blueberries in them.


Agreed. Plus, well-rounded beer geeks like krieks and fruity wheats and solid pilsners and kolsches and all those styles that we sometimes assign "beginner" or "amateur" status. If they're well-made, they're worth our attention.
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Postby doddles » Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:01 pm

boston_jeff wrote:I think what Madison really needs is a full service beer bar with 300-400 varieties, including 1/4, 1/2 and full yards, magnums, and table taps. I've been to many of these types of places and they always do well in college towns. Usually they have an extensive beer list with 50-100 taps and 200-300 bottles, listed by variety.
Problem with that is that many of the beers probably won't be in very good condition when they're poured, either because the keg's too old, or because the keg and the lines have not been kept in the proper condition. For a proper pour of Belgian beer (or any other good beer for that matter), the keg, lines, carbonation, temperature etc. have to be spot on (and often different for the different beer types). Also, you need the right glasses, which means a different one for each and every Belgian beer. Above all else, you need really good staff who have been properly trained in taking care of the various beers properly.

In short, doing a Belgian beer bar well is a major undertaking - I don't know if Madison could support a bar with as many taps as you suggest. But a good bar with 10-15 taps and a huge range of bottles would be doable.
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Postby boston_jeff » Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:09 pm

Totally agreed on freshness, and the maintenance of kegs, lines, etc. And glassware is a huge thing too, brought back Delerium, Leffe, and Blanche glasses with me. Most of these types of places have that shit covered, and sell enough beer that freshness isn't an issue.

OK, so 300-400 might not work, maybe stick to 100 taps and bottles total, I think Madison would get behind it. There's a bar called Bukowski I used to go to that was around that size. Had clean lines and filtration, fresh beer, proper glassware, and a tap roulette wheel for those who couldn't decide what beer to order. I think the chance to try lotsa different beers vs. only Belgians makes for a better business plan, but I'm biased...that said, I would go to your bar, especially if the mussels and frites with mayo were tight.
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Postby Rosemary » Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:15 pm

doddles wrote:In short, doing a Belgian beer bar well is a major undertaking - I don't know if Madison could support a bar with as many taps as you suggest. But a good bar with 10-15 taps and a huge range of bottles would be doable.


If Maduro could find room for coolers for a big bottle range and add a few more glass styles, it'd basically fit that vision. Hot damn, the taps have been beautiful there lately. Of particular interest to me, Racer 5 is back and it's a siren song, baby.

So, where are the better locations for this bar?
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Postby lordofthecockrings » Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:23 pm

Doesn't the Essen Haus have a ton of bottled varieties?
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Postby fisticuffs » Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:28 pm

Dude If they Had Moules and Frites I would be there weekly. There's a chain in Belgium/France called Lyon De Bruxxeles. My first Chimay/Westmalle experience. And incredible food. Not gonna happen here. Although you'd think with the 50 different Thai place we have we could support one Belgian place.
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Postby Paco » Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:44 pm

Ginger Man in Austin has 101 varieties on tap. So cool to see 2 rows of 50 beers on tap.

If Belgians were so necessary, a few bars would start to carry them. No need for a special bar that serves only Belgian.
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Postby Learned » Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:44 pm

Perhaps if it's a little closer to Brussels, Wisconsin.

Brussels, Wisconsin does host an annual Belgian days. I think you'd be hard pressed to find any Belgian beer, though. Definitely chicken booyah.
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Postby Rosemary » Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:52 pm

Paco wrote:If Belgians were so necessary, a few bars would start to carry them. No need for a special bar that serves only Belgian.


I think the idea, though, is that a bar built around Belgians would have its own culture and identity. It'd be its own thing, in the way that, say, the Come Back or Ale Asylum or Maduro have separate identities.

And maybe it's a case of, "if you build it, they will come"...
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Postby doddles » Wed Jun 27, 2007 1:05 pm

Rosemary wrote:
Paco wrote:If Belgians were so necessary, a few bars would start to carry them. No need for a special bar that serves only Belgian.


I think the idea, though, is that a bar built around Belgians would have its own culture and identity. It'd be its own thing, in the way that, say, the Come Back or Ale Asylum or Maduro have separate identities.

And maybe it's a case of, "if you build it, they will come"...
Exactly! And many Madisonians probably have no idea just how many unbelievably good Belgian beers there are, with enormous differences in style/taste.

I'd be happy enough to have a few German beers from near the border, also Dutch beers and northern French beers, to round things out a little.

Then there'd be a good excuse for Bitterballen or Kroketten to be served. Deep fried snacks with beer - how could that not work?
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Postby Rosemary » Wed Jun 27, 2007 1:24 pm

doddles wrote:
Rosemary wrote:
Paco wrote:If Belgians were so necessary, a few bars would start to carry them. No need for a special bar that serves only Belgian.


I think the idea, though, is that a bar built around Belgians would have its own culture and identity. It'd be its own thing, in the way that, say, the Come Back or Ale Asylum or Maduro have separate identities.

And maybe it's a case of, "if you build it, they will come"...
Exactly! And many Madisonians probably have no idea just how many unbelievably good Belgian beers there are, with enormous differences in style/taste.

I'd be happy enough to have a few German beers from near the border, also Dutch beers and northern French beers, to round things out a little.

Then there'd be a good excuse for Bitterballen or Kroketten to be served. Deep fried snacks with beer - how could that not work?


I thought the same thing when I had La Rocca's arancina. Oh wow, are those good. I could easily kill two or three over a beer session.

I used to know a chef who's good friends with Paul Kahan, which is how I heard about Kahan's upcoming beer-focused, Belgian-centric restaurant (see the grey sidebar). That chef and I talked with Paul about it over dinner at Avec one night in January; Paul said then that the menu would be 90% pork. (Lardon in everything? Yes please. Chopchop.) I'd love to see a place like that in Madison, if only to keep me from spending too much on gas...
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Postby Ed Breakfast » Fri Jun 29, 2007 12:41 pm

I was just at Vol de Nuit in Manhattan on Tuesday night. I liked it. Generally, I prefer German or British beers but it was a nice change of pace. I'm not sure it would work in Madison because I don't think we have the population to support something so specialized. (Like blues clubs or jazz clubs, for example.)
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