Mesquite Infused 668

Barrel-Aged 668 with Mesquite (cask)
1 draught, $6.50, 9% ABV

Purchased at Max’s Oyster Bar, West Hartford

new-england-brewing-logo-420I love the Oyster Bar. In a town (MY town) full of great restaurants, the Oyster Bar is like the anchor. Of the top 5, it’s been here the longest and will probably remain the longest.

“What are those top 5?” I hear you asking. Well, the top three without question are Treva, Vinted and the Oyster Bar. After that, it’s more depending on what you like… Besito, Arugula, Mirusaki, Bricco’s, Grant’s, Harry’s Pizza and Blue Elephant Trail would all vie. And of course there’s Max Burger, Shish Kabob House, Barcelona and Rizzuto’s too.

Notice I left out Elbow Room and BarTaco. This was not an oversight and I’ll leave it at that.

And I’m sure when Chef Puka from Treva opens his new French place on LaSalle, it will probably be in my top 5. The chef/owner from my favorite local restaurant making my favorite cuisine? Come ON.

And yes, I realize that depending on when you read this, a few of these places may no longer exist. Such is the difficult world of running restaurants, especially in high-rent districts like West Hartford center.

Aside: I recently tried to remember all the places my wife and I went on our first 10 or so dates back in 2000. Very few are still open as they were 13 years ago – I think just Pig’s Eye Pub and the venerable Arch Street Tavern. No longer: Brix in Cheshire, Lemon Grass and Pho Tuong Lai in West Hartford, The Union/Glas in Glastonbury, Bourbon Street and The Red Plate in Hartford, TGI Friday’s in Farmington… all gone.

But the Oyster Bar was probably one of the first really nice places we went back in those days, and it’s still there. And we still go there with as much regularity as parents of two little kids can go.

And there I was again, right at 5PM sharp for the cask-tapping. I was still there at 5:30, waiting for the cask-tapping. At 5:40, I left. Upset that the NEBCO boys were stuck in traffic. On my way to the car, I passed Rob and James, cask spigot in hand.

“Ok, I was leaving but now that you’re here, I can do this,” I said. “It’s nice that you made it up here instead of me driving down there like I do every few weeks.”

“I just hope the cask is good,” sayeth Master Rob, with a tinge of fear in his voice. But both Rob and Matt from NEBCO are painfully humble while producing some of the best beer in the world, so I didn’t think much of it.

Back inside, I waited another 10 minutes with no mesquite infused 668 Belgian strong ale. I had to go home to my family.

320px-Mesquite_Nevada_1I ate dinner, helped with the boys and announced that I had to go out to go shopping. (I did, for Mother’s Day.) I raced back to the center and went back into the bar. The bartender quickly served me the casked beer and apologized for the (now) 3 hour wait.

“I just hope the cask is good.”

Sip. Taste. Hm. Sip. Taste. Damn.

It wasn’t. Of course, it wasn’t a failure by any means. After all, 668 is a wonderful beer and I love it. Sip. Taste. Where was the mesquite? But really, did I really want mesquite? Since when does Southwestern mix with Belgian?

Then again, this beer is brought to us by The Goat Lord, so I guess that unholy alliance of Belgian and Southwestern woodsmoke is what happens.

NEBCO Rob was standing next to me while I downed his beer. “I just hope the cask is good,” still ringing in my ears. Please don’t ask me, please don’t ask me.

He didn’t.

And I went home without even remembering to take a picture of my beer. That’s what happens when great people do something completely unmemorable.

Overall Rating: C-
Rating vs. Similar style: n/a

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