Monday, November 8, 2010

Sitting At The Bar Pays Dividends

On Friday afternoon,  Mrs Velkyal, myself and our 9 month old Cairn Terrier named Honza, piled into the car for the 6 hour drive to South Carolina. We were going down for Mrs V's grandmother's birthday, and in the process dropping off entries for the upcoming Palmetto State Brewers' Open homebrew competition - both mine and for James of A Homebrew Log (I will be writing about more of his beer next week).

As ever when in Columbia, I wanted to pop round to the Flying Saucer for a few beers, which we did after dinner on Saturday. Having been asked for ID, we stepped through the door and every table in the place was taken. If we had been in the Czech Republic this would not have been a problem - sharing tables being perfectly normal. There was a couple of places at the bar and so we headed there. Now, if you read this blog regularly you will know that I like sitting at the bar rather than at a table, however, and perhaps I am just slightly crazy here, I like to have been to a place a few times before I do so.

Having got comfortable, we perused the written menu. Initially I wanted to continue my milk stout jag with Duck Rabbit's version, but they were out, so I settled for their porter, I honestly can't remember what Mrs V had. The DR Porter left me underwhelmed, too light bodied, pale of colour and generally like a brown ale for the mood I was in. I tried a few samples of things, the barman being excellent on that front, unlike his blonde eye candy colleague who didn't know what a Kölsch was. There was though a tap handle that kept drawing my eye, North Coast Brewing's Old Stock Ale, and the barman bought me a sample - thick, chewy, malty goodness! This was what I had been craving all day without realising it. I ordered a pint, and got told it came in halves because it is something like 12%abv - just a side thought, nobody would bat an eyelid if I ordered a bottle of wine, so why not serve pints of barleywine/old ale?

I think I may have found the ideal winter beer, and need to stock up on wherever I can get this stuff - I am hoping that when we head south again in a couple of weeks for Thanksgiving that I will be able to get some at Green's or similar. Apart from discovering this singularly delicious beer, I was again reminded of the value of sitting at the bar - Old Stock Ale was not on the written menu (the disparity between the menu and beers available was startling really) and without sitting there I would never have known it was available. The moral of this tale - printed beer lists are only of value if they are kept up to date.


  1. You should be able to get old stock in VA. I can't speak for certain about C-ville, but I know it can be had here in Richmond.

  2. Haven't had Old Stock before but it sounds like I should seek out a bottle. I have had North Coast's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout which I know is available in Virginia and also an excellent dark, thick, strong, malty beer.

  3. It is crazy to think that a bar would give a beer list, only to not have many beers and omit others that they do have. It is one of my pet peeves.

    I think the worst is when a bar boasts of their large selection, and then when you ask to see a list, they don't have one. They want you to look for yourself in a cooler on the other side of the bar. Needless to say, bad lighting + bad eyesight leaves me asking what most bottles are. I would rather a list not up to date, than no list at all.

  4. Greenwood Gourmet usually has vintages several years aged (I found 2007 Old Stock there as recently as six months ago), and know that Beer Run and Wine Warehouse in C'ville have 2009 vintages currently available. I myself have vintages in my cellar going back four years (I think?) if you'd ever like to come over for a vertical - cheers, buddy!

  5. I am like you Al, I prefer the bar. I get a view of everything they have up there.
    I do however have no issue with walking in to a new place and sitting at the bar.


Czeching out Cola Town

Since the demise of the Flying Saucer I have been somewhat bereft of places to drink when I am in Columbia, SC visiting Mrs V's family. ...