|Walking into Sidhe.|
|Was I expecting too much of third graders?|
You can reach it more easily from the entrance on Jenks, though, which leads downstairs to Sidhe Brewing and it's taproom. To find a restroom, though, you need to exit the spaceand go out and mingle with the Mexicans.
From the start of Sidhe Brewing, which opened almost a year ago, there was great emphasis on the feminine nature of the brewing team, led by owner Kathleen Culhane, a transgendered female in a same-sex marriage. There was also talk of her Wiccan-ness, and how this works in their brewing processes. We don't hear much about that anymore. Perhaps that's where it goes too far into coo-coo land for an average consumer. Ladies, trans, queer, yeah, we're cool. Hocus-pocus and such? Eh, not so much.
|Foreground: my sample, behind it: Dave.|
But, we're just here for the beer, so we wend our way down, find a seat, scan the menu and consider our options. Dave decided on a flight, and I picked a full pint of a stout called Dark Moon Rising, described as a dry Irish Stout, 4.9% ABV, 39 IBU. Sometimes, I like to post links to web pages if there is further information on the beer and that I'd like you to read at your own leisure, rather than have me post it all here. I would like to do that in this case, but the Sidhe website only lists the current beers, and only shows their logos, without any more verbiage regarding the brew. I found a long description on the Untappd page for this one, much longer than the printed menu at the bar. Excised from that edition are these sentences: "Black as an overcast moonless night, deep in the northern woods, this beer is nonetheless quite approachable. A common misconception among those new to craft beer appreciation is that darkness somehow equates to having one's taste buds mugged in a dark alley." So they like to write, nothing wrong with that. So do I. Now, what did I write?
|Dark Moon Rising Stout|
I took sips from Dave's flight: Bast Kissed Cream Ale, light, honey-ish, creamy and malty, nice, probably a popular choice; Atypical Wyrm Wood, a Vienna Lager described as "a trip to Mexico", a clean, if grainy, easy-drinking lager; Wild Hare IPA, which my notes only refer to as "not great"; and Barking Cat, a Belgian-style Strong Pale Ale. On hearing my curiosity about this one, the bartender got me my own sample, which wasn't pleasant in the least. 9.9% ABV, 26 IBUs and tasting of band-aid and other chemical products. Lacking in the things that make the style memorable, suffering from some kind of infection.
|In the tradition of old Bobby Zimmerman.|
We were there in a mellow moment, on a Sunday afternoon, with a handful of folks coming and going, getting growlers, passing their time over pints and periodicals, while a folk guitar duo played to an audience of three. The bartender (also manager, I think) told tales of busier nights, when it's packed to the rafters. At this point, I was thinking of the opinions I'd absorbed previously about this brewery, and was unpacking my current thoughts on the beers, ready to try out another.
|Hopped Up McGonigal. A bit of|
After a few sips, I find this one to be sufferable, but barely, and altogether too sweet, increasingly and overwhelmingly, over-achingly sweet, requiring much more bitterness to be a decent IPA. Can that 85 IBUs be right? Is that not enough withstand the malt involved?
Here's the description I cribbed off of Untappd (which is much like the printed menu, leaving off the stuff about their friend, the name, & Harry Potter): "A very light IPA, and we mean it (note the IBU's). Technically it is an India Pale Ale, but the hop bitterness is so well balanced by the malt sweetness you won't be beaten up by the hops. It has a pronounced citrus aroma, good amber color, and a finish that doesn't leave your palate hop-bruised."
|all the words.|
And then are comments like this: "Not great. Too high ABV. But feminist, trans-friendly, brewed-by-women beer is really cool." Sigh. Are we supposed to suffer the former part in order to support the latter? "It's great that you're chicks or used to be dudes, so I'll drink your bad beer anyway!"
I didn't spit out the awful IPA, I drank it down without comment. Meanwhile, Dave blew my cover and the bartender asked about the blog and noted the name. I can't sugar-coat. I'm not in this to tell tall tales, spin poetry about what could be and what almost might be, and gloss over the mistakes. There's a need for a place like this, to serve this community, and all it's friends. But it shouldn't include mediocre, misguided, or outright misbegotten beers. That's one thing I can't throw my support behind.
I would hope the brewers can recognize their errors, or ferret out the flaws in some of the batches. It does seem like there are hits among the misses, and maybe I just got the bad ones this time. Maybe. I keep thinking back to visits to places like Maple Island or Kinney Creek, and the thought of crowds of imbibers swallowing swill and thinking that's "craft beer" at it's best going past their lips. I hope that isn't happening here.