Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tap That

Last Saturday, we celebrated our eldest son’s sixth birthday party by spending some time at Minnehaha Falls, one of his favorite local attractions. On Friday night, we had a more formal birthday bash with out-of-town relatives and the grandparents. Saturday was more of an immediate family affair and as such was very informal and laid back.

After the visit to the Falls, we crossed the river into St. Paul and grabbed dinner at the Groveland Tap. Long-time readers of Fraters may recall that the joint was once part of the stomping grounds of our own Saint Paul before he fled the city who provided his moniker for the charms of small-town life in Stillwater. It was my first visit to the neighborhood bar and I was impressed by what I found.

The first thing that anyone with kids needs to know is whether a given establishment is “family friendly.” Our definition of such an environment is a place with enough space and background noise so that our childrens don’t disturb the peace of other patrons. And having French fries on the menu is also a big plus. The Groveland Tap came through in both areas. While the space is not huge, it’s large enough to provide the requisite room and also has booths which afford even more of a buffer. There was more than enough chatter when we were there to drown out whatever bedlam was created at our particular table.

And the French fries were good. Our eldest has become something of a connoisseur as French fries make up one of key building blocks of his personal food pyramid and have gave the Tap’s offering a solid thumbs up. The Juicy Lucy burgers that my wife and I consumed were also well received. She went with the traditional version while I had a Cajun Lucy with pepper jack cheese and jalapeƱo inside the burger. It was a tasty combo with just the right amount of heat.

While the food is plenty good, what really sets the Groveland Tap apart is their selection of beers on tap. The variety of beers are listed on chalkboards in various places in the tavern and helpfully sorted by style. Their website has a list that was updated on July 11th. I added a few more based on what we found our recent visit:

Abita Purple Haze
Alaskan Summer Ale
Avery Maharaja
Bell’s Oberon
Brau Brothers Sheep Head Ale
Brooklyn Pennant Ale
Delerium Tremens
Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale
Finnegan’s Irish Amber
Flat Earth Belgian Pale Ale
Flat Earth Angry Planet Pale Ale
Flying Dog Raging Bitch
Fulton Sweet Child O Vine (cask ale)
Grain Belt Nordeast
Guinness Stout
Harriet Wodan Weizen
Harriet Westside Belgian IPA
Lagunitas Pilsner
Leinnie Big Eddy
Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison
Magic Hat #9
Michelob Golden Draft Light
New Belgium Summersault
New Belgium Fat Tire
New Holland Mad Hatter
Odell Cut Throat Porter
Sam Adams Summer Ale
Schell's Heffe Weizen
Shock Top
Stella Artois
Stone IPA
Summit EPA
Summit Hefeweizen
Summit IPA
Summit Horizon Red Ale
Summit Pilsner
Summit Great Northern Porter
Summit Oatmeal Stout
Surly Bitter Brewer
Surly Furious
Surly Hell
Tall Grass Oasis

Thirsty yet? My wife had a Stone IPA and Flat Earth Angry Planet Pale Ale. I had a Surly Bitter Brewer and a cask conditioned Fulton Sweet Child O’ Vine. Our kids stuck to Michelob Golden Draft Light (kidding of course, it’s not like we live in Wisconsin). The cask Fulton was smooth delicious goodness. There is something about the mouthfeel of a good cask beer that can’t be replicated and whenever I see it offered I usually opt for it.

The beers were served in smaller (12oz) versions of the traditional English pub glass, which have a nice aesthetic appeal. Even better, we arrived right before the end of their Saturday happy hour specials (yes, Saturday happy hours during the day) and so my Bitter Brewer ran a mere three dollars. Anytime you can get any kind of Surly for three bones it’s a heck of a happy hour.

The Groveland Tap is not exactly in our neck of the woods, but it’s good to know that we now have a go-to watering hole if we’re in the area. I’m sure that while Saint Paul is enjoying life on the grounds of his leafy Stillwater estate, there are things that he misses about the urban experience. And the Groveland Tap is no doubt one of them.

Groveland Tap Reviews in St Paul