Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Very Civilized Night at Chap's Taproom

Chap's Taproom is definitely the best bar in the Norristown area. They have a very diverse, rotating selection of beverages. They have the requisite large televisions for viewing of the local sports teams. They have a very friendly, accomodating bar staff. They have a very good menu, with the Works roast beef and the wings serving as the unquestioned highlights. Hell, they even have a set of attractive twins working as servers!!! (I don't's just cool to think about when bombed.)

But the really awesome thing about Chap's is that they are always looking for that next thing. They don't remain static. Sometimes their ideas are misses (from what I heard, their first venture into Comedy Night was an unmitigated disaster), but sometimes they really hit the right notes. And with a little work, the event we went to the other night could really be a hit. It was a beer dinner, and in this post I will give you the play-by-play of this inaugural event.

Course 1
When myself and the wife first rolled in (we were meeting our friends V and D - names omitted to protect our anonymity), we were greeted by our pal, a bartender named Mark, with a Samuel Adams Boston Lager. At first, we were really worried that the beers we would be served would be thimble-sized to preserve the aura of true fanciness. Instead, we were each poured a full 16-ounce glass. The food course that this beer accompanied was a cheese plate, along with grapes. Personally, I am not a big cheese person. But I ate it. It was fine. And the grapes were...grapes. I've yet to meet a person who could f*ck up grapes. So no complaints...other than the fact that I don't consider Sam Adams to be a very good beer. It is really just a step above the Miller Lites and the Bud Lights and the Yuenglings of the world. I would have liked a little more at a beer dinner.

Course 2
The second course was drunken mussels, and it was served with a Blue Moon Belgian White. Let me just say this: I don't like mussels. They are really tiny and they taste like utter funkiness. But I ate them. I felt like coming to the beer dinner and turning down one of the courses would have been a bit silly. Still, I didn't like them. They may have been done really well for mussel aficionados. But I am not one of them. The real disappointment was the Blue Moon. Come on, Chap's! You have so many good beers! Are you really trying to fool me with this "Belgian White?" A Blue Moon is about as Belgian as Der Fuhrer! There is no taste to that beer. The only distinctiveness I could decipher was the orange that was attached to the lip of the glass.

Course 3
Now this is when things began to get interesting: Chap's chose to pair pork meatballs and cheddar horseradish mashed potatoes with a very delectable Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' IPA. This was the best course of the night. I enjoyed both the meal and the beer immensely. The meatballs were accompanied by a scrumptious beer gravy,and the beer was simply transcendent. A bold, hoppy marvel (and yes, I was pompous enough to write those exact words on my comment card).

Course 4
The fourth course was a marinated flank steak with mushroom demi glaze, served atop a roasted vegetable orzo. It came along with a pint of Old Faithful: a Guinness stout. While the steak was not as memorable as the pork meatballs, I do remember enjoying it immensely. The orzo was particularly tasty. And I actually enjoyed the Guinness too. I have not had one in a while so it was a welcome beverage. I do think it is probably a little run-of-the-mill for a beer dinner, no? I think the rule should be if you can find a commercial for it on TV, it probably should not be served at a beer enthusiasts' dinner. I mean, why not just toss a Corona at a brotha.

Course 5
The fifth course was dessert. It was a Black Forest cake served with an Atwater Vanilla Java Porter. The cake was pretty good. Interestingly enough, however, I got a few sips of the beer before the cake came out. I really enjoyed it. I'm not even a porter person, but the vanilla flavor really popped. This being said, once I got a bite of the cake, the beer's flavor was pretty much neutralized. It made me wonder if this was an effective beer pairing. The cake was wonderful, and the beer was quite fine, but together they did not add up to the sum of their parts.

Now it may sound like I was not a fan of Chap's beer dinner concept. But really I had a great time with my friends and I do applaud the bar for its ceaseless ambition to find fun events for their customers (and to be fair, to figure out ways to make money in a bar on a Monday). I simply have some quick advice for Chap's as it pertains to making their beer dinners more successful.

1) Make people pay in advance - There were something like eight no-shows for the event, something that makes for a real bust when you are talking about what is supposed to be a social event (Full disclosure: I didn't really care as I am quite antisocial and wouldn't have wanted to talk to any of those heads). Make those a-holes pay upfront with a credit card or something. I know of at least two people who were shut out from the event because it was full only, to see a bunch of seats go unfilled.

2) Charge more!!!! - I know. What kind of idiot wants to be charged more for a dinner? My point is the dinner cost 20 bucks, which was way too much of a bargain for five beers and five courses. If you charged 25 or 30 bucks, maybe then you could cut out the pedestrian beers and offer up some of your more classy product. Perhaps this would rule out some of the riff raff, but true beer appreciators would gladly pay a little extra for the good stuff.

3) Enforce an "Only Beer Dinner Patrons" rule at the "supper table" - I paid 20 bucks for my seat. Don't let some idiot ordering dollar dogs pony up to the table whilst gripping a Budweiser. I don't care who he knows. The assclown put me off my meal!

4) Get some entertainment - As one of our friends pointed out, it would have been cool if maybe they had a "beer MC." Someone who could tell you a little bit about the beer you are drinking along with something about how your meal was prepared. This being said, if you were going to do this, you would have to serve something better than a Guinness. What could you possibly tell a bunch of people about a Guinness? "Drunken arsemonkeys like to drink it on St. Patrick's Day" doesn't really play.

5) Play the sound for the Phillies game that is on the big screen - Come on, Chaps. I know it's a hoidy-toidy beer dinner, but we are in Norristown. Leave the volume on so the dudes can keep up with their favorite ball team.

Anyway, overall, it is a wonderful concept, and we will certainly figure out a way to be in attendance for the next one. However, if Chap's can simply follow the instructions I have laid out, it can be the greatest bar experience in all of Norristown (yeah right, we all know that honor belongs to consuming a smoke-soaked Perotto's Pizza at the Valley Forge Beef and Ale)!

Chap's Taproom & Sports Grill
(610) 539-8722
2509 W Main St
Jeffersonville, PA 19403

Chap's Taproom & Sports Grill on Urbanspoon

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