Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pleasant Surprise in Salisbury

I first heard the name Salisbury back in the days when you actually had to get out of your chair to change the TV channel. As a youth of only single digits in age, I thought TV dinners were cool, and my favorite was Salisbury Steak from Swanson. 

You got the "meat," the peas, the mashed potatoes and the gravy, the soup and dessert all in this neat little formed aluminum tray. Apart from being allowed to eat and watch TV in the "living room," a treat of epic proportions back then, the best thing was that when you were done with your dinner, there were no dishes. 

And I loved the Salisbury Steak, even though my mother said it was "just hamburger."

My recent weekend travels, wrestling-related, took me to the Maryland city of the same name, and upon checking into my motel (which, ironically, was opposite from a restaurant called Steak Salisbury), I asked the counter clerk for pub/restaurant recommendations where I could find good beer. Without hesitation, she said, "Evolution is just 5 minutes from here."

I was not unaware of the name, as I had some of its product in Atlantic City a month ago during a different wrestling-related event, and I found it quite good. So off to Evolution Public House we went.

I'm glad we did. We got to meet the lovely Victoria and the friendly and knowledgeable Assistan Manager Brian Mertz (no relation to Fred and Ethel), who left the teaching profession to eventually become Evolution's Beer Quality Control Guru. Whether the strains of the first profession led to the grains of the second, I'm not sure. But the newly married, Brian told me he chose his bride based on two basic criteria: "She had to love kids, and she had to love beer." Sounds like a strong foundation to me.

Victoria offers up a Prelude Red
Because Brian really loves his beer and his job, he spoke with great knowledge of it and affection for it. He also suggested a tour of the large, 33,000 bbl-per-year brewery, located within the Public House confines. In addition to outside seating, a pleasing dining area and a very comfortable Tasting Room, Evolution boasts a wide distribution area. It includes the legendary beach resort in nearby Ocean City called Seacrets for which a special beer called Tropicale is produced.

The Life of Brian
My guess was that just the brewery operation alone was a $3 million dollar one, and even though the original brewer... is now in Florida, the reigns have been adequately assumed by brothers Tom and John.

Evolution offers a wide variety of brews, of which my choices this day were limited to a red called Prelude, which Brian informed me is used as the base for sour beer blends as well. In appearance, it looked cloudy and "undone," but in taste, it was spectacular, and with its relatively low ABV could serve as a good session ale. It also went exceptionally well with my House Burger, which was also done a perfect medium-rare.

But the beer that rang my bell (in more ways than one) was a special Rise Up Imperial Stout. At 10% ABV, its rich coffee and chocolate flavors came through  on a very smooth mouthfeel. Lots of brewers make good stouts, but this one was great, a bit bigger than the "regular" stout pictured here. And the Lucky 7 Porter they provided for the tour was also spot on.

In all, an unexpected and delightful find, and beer lovers should look for Evolution beers as their ever-expanding distribution continues. According to their beer locater, there are many just across the Delaware River in PA, including Isaac Newton's, and as mentioned, I found it in Atlantic City. There are many places that have it on the Southeast Jersey Coast.

If your personal beer journey is evolving, be sure to include Evolution as a stop.
Just remember they don't serve TV dinners.

The PubScout

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