Friday, September 2, 2011

New Jersey's Pour House is Enjoyable, not Award-Worthy

In the June/July edition of the very entertaining magazine, Beer Scene, the publication named Westmont's The Pour House as the "Best Classic Bar" in the states of New Jersey and Delaware. Being that I was in the area yesterday, I decided to stop by and find out if their choice held water. The answer unfortunately was both "Yes" and "No."

First, the Yes. There is simply no denying that this place has a very impressive beer list. The following is just a sample of some of the luminaries they are featuring in bottles: Avery. Hitachino. Stone. North Coast. Ommegang. I imagine you could sit here for days and you wouldn't run out of interesting beers to sample. You would probably have to get your stomach pumped, but that is another matter altogether. The draft list also has plenty to savor. As of this writing, they have, among others, Anderson Valley Bootlinger Weiss, Green Flash West Coast IPA, and Stone Ruination IPA. You get the idea: It's a quality lineup. In the interest of full disclosure, the beers I had during my stay were a stellar Weyerbacher Verboten, a Sly Fox Chester County Brown Ale (more on that later), and bottles of Lagunitas Dogtown Pale Ale and Yards Thomas Jefferson Tavern Ale (both wonderful).

Of course, the aspects that create a fine bar experience are numerous and vary from person to person. The atmosphere of the place was enjoyable, with music posters lining the walls, a sultry piano singer wailing away, and a noticeable absence of douchebaggery going on around us. Another thing that was great is that the place sure did seem to attract a bunch of visually-up-to-snuff lady folk. I'm a married man, so it isn't like I am trying to talk to the ladies, but at this point in my life, I see ladies in a bar sort of like I look at the great outdoors: I may not have any interest in climbing a mountain, but there certainly is nothing wrong with the site of a few snow-capped peaks on the horizon. It really bolsters the experience!

The service was also very good with one notable exception (I'm getting to it). Our waitress was very attentive and quick to ask us if we needed a refill when we reached empty. My party (and myself in particular) was a finicky lot and she had no problem with standing by for a minute while we perused the establishment's gigantic beer menus. She was an outgoing person who put me at ease and left me feeling exactly the way I want to feel after departing from a watering hole, which is something akin to, "Yeah, I totally could have gotten with that incredibly attractive waitress if only I wasn't married, broke, and hampered by ample beer gut."

So here I have painted you a picture of a terrific beer-drinking facility, and I truly believe that is what The Pour House is. However, I must impart to you something that horrified me and would cause me to tell you to proceed with caution if you should ever find yourself in the Westmont, N.J., area, about to walk in the door. And that is that, upon sipping my pint of Sly Fox Chester County Brown Ale, I found that the liquid within was probably better suited for dying Easter eggs than physical consumption. I'm sorry, but I don't think you can call yourself a serious beer establishment if you could ever serve someone a vinegared-up, skunky beer. I've never had one in Standard Tap. I've never had one in TJ's Restaurant & Drinkery! I have never had one in Chap's Taproom. It just can't happen. Isn't there someone tasting these things making sure that a consumer isn't going to vomit upon sampling their requested libation? I got the thing replaced and switched to bottles because my faith in their draft stock was shattered. To make matters worse, upon looking at the check, I realized that our waitress, the one who was clearly flirting me with the tempting way that she said "Hi, I'll be your server," failed to take the beer off of the bill. Ugh! I was too tired to argue about it so we just paid the bill with the vile potion included. It didn't really matter at that point because the damage was done: the unintentional Sly Fox sour beer had convinved me that I would not be frequenting the Pour House for a stretch of time.

While I thank Beer Scene for a recommendation that bore a good deal of fruit, I'd have to go to few other New Jersey and Delaware bars before I could say that the experience I had was award-worthy.

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