Something that bothers me at times is how difficult it can be to find local beer on tap here in Charlottesville. I could almost understand it if I lived in a town with an obscure nano-brewery making a few kegs a week and nothing else, but there are 5 breweries within a 30 mile radius of town and at least 2 in the planning that I know of, and yet I can't remember ever seeing my favourite Starr Hill beer on tap in town.
Before continuing this post let me make something clear, I am not talking here about going to places like Beer Run where the modus operandi is to have an every changing selection of beer. I am talking about your every day restaurants, the kind of places you go for food rather than the beer selection (believe it or not I don't make my eating out decisions based on how many taps a place has).
On Sunday for example, having spent a few hours out at the house painting, Mrs V and I headed out to our local Mexican restaurant for food. Usually when we go to a Mexican restaurant I'll have a Michelob because it is often the best beer available, minor side note, I actually quite like Michelob on occasion, clean, crisp, very easy to drink and best of all the bottles are re-useable for homebrew. Imagine then my surprise that our local Mexican had decided to start serving New Belgium Fat Tire as one of their 4 draft beers! I can say that Fat Tire goes quite nicely with Pollo con Chorizo and at $5 for a 22oz pour no complaints on the money front either.
But why have New Belgium beer when there is plenty of local beer which is as good? This is especially galling when you live in a town topped to the brim with "Buy Local" enthusiasts.
When you do see a Starr Hill tap, and I am not singling out Starr Hill, it's just that they are biggest and oldest brewery in the area, it is usually for Northern Lights IPA. Now, I like Northern Lights from time to time, unlike many an IPA over here it isn't so weighed down with hops as to be like sucking a lemon sized grapefruit, but I don't think it is the best beer that Starr Hill makes. I think it is third behind Dark Starr Stout and Festie, an amber lager which is wonderfully clean and delicious, and criminally not seen on draft at all in my experience, outside the tasting room that is.
When a bar is so laden with American Pale Ales, IPAs and Double IPAs, it would be wonderful to see more beers like Dark Starr and Festie breaking the banks of pale hoppy monotony. So come come restaurants, mix up your beer list, and support your local breweries.