Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Getting high on beer carries new meaning

Now these folks are what I call "forward-thinking." I just wonder if they've thought about not being able to fall down after one too the link below

Hat Tip to my buddy Ty in AZ for this story...

Space Beer Headed for Zero Gravity Bar - Yahoo! News

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Halfway House

Met a few of my MC buddies at the now-famous Kilkenny House in Cranford last night. The purpose was to celebrate "St. Practice Day," a supposed Irish tradition that marks the halfway point to St. Patty's Day.

As though the Irish, or the rest of us for that matter, need practice at pubbing, meeting friends and having fun.

But Barry O'Donovan, the Cranford Leprechaun, takes both his pub and his Irish heritage seriously, so he had Brian Kennedy's lively Irish band, bagpipers and what looked to be Michael Flatley's daughters Irish-stepping to the delight of the packed house. Kennedy knew--and sang--the Clancy Brothers version of Galway Bay, a ribald rendition that brought roars of laughter from at least one patron. The video is up at my FB page, and will probably make it to YouTube shortly. The bagpipers made a grand entrance and wowed the crowd with their performance.

But packed houses at Kilkenny don't only happen on St. Practice Day with all the trimmings. Barry and his corner man Damien, along with his extremely friendly and efficient KH staff usually deal with large crowds that often spill out onto the street to sit outside if the weather permits--and sometimes even if it doesn't permit. If there's a prettier, more pleasant server than Jenny (see pics), I've yet to meet her.

The pub is very simply a welcoming, family place where the stranger is a stranger just once. That recipe is now in use successfully at many a local pub, and that suggests that pubs, especially Irish ones, have come full circle. From the corner pub in the Auld Sodde, to the corner pub in small-town America, to the Mega-Pub in the highway shopping centers, and back to the local, small-town model, delightful places like the Kilkenny House are, for many, their home-away-from-home.

Look, it's far cheaper to buy booze at a liquor store and drink it at home. But what fun is that, unless you're planning on getting totally sh!t-faced, which is not a good idea in the first place? For millennia, man has sought the company of his peers, and good pubs provide the perfect atmosphere to do that.

Besides, ever try getting your wife to Irish-Step it after fetching you your beer? Ain't happenin.'

Instead bring her to a pub like Kilkenny House. She won't have to cook, you won't have to clean up, and you'll bond as a couple.
And though you might be tempted, I'd recommend that you don't sing Galway Bay too vigorously.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Of Weddings and Beer Dinners

By Kurt Epps—The PubScout


Beer dinners are a lot like wedding receptions. To be memorable, you need good people on the floor, good people in the kitchen, good people at the bar and guests who want to have a good time. Add some good entertainment, and the house is ready to rock.

The house at Hailey's Harp and Pub had all the ingredients in abundance and the result was another beer dinner success. Hailey's first shot came last January and for a rookie pub, it performed very solidly. Last night's dinner showed that Chris Flynn, Jerry Windos, Johnny La Barbera and crew can now run with the big dogs.

It's worth noting, too, that many pubs and brewpubs hold their dinners on "off" nights like Mondays or Tuesdays, when the customer level is usually lower than on the weekends. Hailey's pulled theirs off on a Friday night, and despite a packed house outside, the gals on the floor in the back room, Dawn and Colleen, stayed on top of every course—both food and beer.

You can view the menu for the night in the post below this one, so there's no sense re-running it. But writing what the menu will be and tasting at when it appears are two different things. The salad was fresh and tasty and well complemented by the Blue Moon. The salmon puffs caused my seat neighbor Pete to wax poetic, although it may have been the Harp Lager that ignited his muse. The Reuben rolls, accompanied by Climax Oktoberfest produced a series of "mmmmm's" and "oooohh's."

I confess to my love for this beer, and it's going so fast, Dave had to brew more just to make it through October. That consumption is not all my doing, mind you, but "Braxator" (Latin for brewmaster) makes one helluva beer. More than one of the ladies at the table—a particularly good-looking batch this night, too-- described the Johnny's Butternut Squash soup in terms usually relegated to a Kinsey sex study. The Hennepin that I paired with it was an avant-garde move on my part. I liked it, as did most. The Lamb Shanks, presented vertically in a bed of mashed, spiced potatoes were so tender the meat fell away from the bone with just the touch of a fork. And the sauce into which we dunked said meat was out-of-this-world. Matched with Hailey's Ale (Climax Nut Brown), it was heaven. Chef Johnny even threw in a special dish of Pickled Squash that piqued many a palate.

And of course, the finale, Johnny's Black and Tan Guinness pudding (check out the pictures) was as remarkable to look at as it was to eat, and it was paired with Guinness—natch.

Big Dave Burnejko walked away with the grand raffle prize of the night—a huge and heavy Leinenkugel's cooler, but everyone went home with a gift courtesy of Chris Flynn and Hailey's Harp and Pub—two classic Guinness Pub Glasses each.

So you had pros on the floor, pros in the bar, pros in the kitchen and a group of guests who were primed for a good time.

There are, however, differences between a good wedding reception and a good beer dinner. Apart from the ones those cynical about marriage can come up with, one is the cost. Weddings can cost $200 a plate.

Hailey's was just $45, and if you went as a couple, like Megan and Mike, Harriet and Clay, Jason and Erin, Jonathan and Tracy and Moshe and Lynn it was just $75. And I'd bet those couples had just as much fun after the beer dinner as they would have after a wedding.

As I said, it's a steal. Hope to see you at the next one!

©Kurt Epps 2010 All rights reserved

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hailey's Beer Dinner menu for 9/10

I stopped in to Hailey's last night to firm up our pending beer dinner menu for Sept. 10. It's looking to be an exceptional night...

Salad: Mixed Greens with Fresh apples/pears, with crumbled bacon and a white balsamic vinaigrette dressing--Beer--Blue Moon

Course 1: Salmon Puffs with Cream Cheese drizzled with a Spicy Pesto Sauce--Beer--Harp Lager

Course 2: Reuben Rolls--Beer--Climax Oktoberfest (This beer is one of the best you'll have!)

Course 3: Butternut Squash Soup--Beer--Hennepin

Entree: Lamb Shanks with a Spicy Whiskey-infused Brown Gravy--Beer--Hailey's Ale

Dessert: Black and White Guinness Pudding--Beer--Guinness Stout

In addition, I'm told there may be a surprise course, and if it's what I think it is, you're going to love it...

So that's the lineup for Hailey's Second Beer Dinner. Dinner starts at 7, but don't be afraid to come early and socialize. as usual, there will be the standard schtick, giveaways and general fun. Chris Flynn has done something most unusual for a beer dinner in providing a "Couples' Rate" for just $75 for two. That's a steal in anybody's book. Call Hailey's now to book your spot if you haven't already done so. See you there! Ein Prosit!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hailey's Beer Dinner...Vol.2

Here's the lowdown...

A reservation is yours for just $45, and note that couples can attend for just $75! That's a steal. I have it on VERY good authority that Brewmeister Dave Hoffman of Climax Brewing in Roselle Park will not only be there, he'll be bringing some of his scrumpdillyumptious OktoberFest beer. If you haven't tasted it, you don't know what you're missing. But I do. You're missing Oktoberfest, and that, quite simply, is not easily forgiven...

Hope to see you there!