It’s an interesting night to be at downtown beer den the Thirsty Monk: It’s Pint and Cask night, a team-up with Highland Brewing while debuting parts of the Monk’s new food menu. There’s a chef dishing out Salmon Sliders and goblets with roasted cashews. A cask of Highland’s new Black Mountain Bitter pale ale sits atop the bar.
The crowd upstairs is lively but fairly low-key, with a be-kilted bartender dishing out pints as fast as he can go. In addition to the featured Highland beers, there are also other interesting choices, mostly tending to the high-gravity end, such as Founder’s Curmudgeon—an admirably old-school ale at 9.3 percent with a sweet, rich array of flavors that defy easy categorization.
The new Black Mountain Bitter is smooth—sharp, but not overwhelming. It does go well with the absolutely delicious Salmon Sliders (with a side of pretzel sticks, the Thirsty Monk seems to be hitting every kind of bar food around).
The downstairs, where Thirsty Monk originally began, is a different experience: more personal and focused on the Belgian beers one sees far more rarely.
It’s quite a high-quality selection, most of them on the more heavily hoppy side, including beers like the Delirium Tremens line (the Delirium Nocturne is an absolutely luscious stout). Belgian beer is properly flamed, and there’s a complexity of flavor to almost all of the offerings. The downstairs bartender (also sporting a kilt) acted almost like a distributor of spirits: knowing which type of beer to prescribe for even the most general mood or description. This covers not just the drink itself, but the care for which glass its served in. Each brew has a different vessel with its own logo.
There’s a lot of stone and wood at Thirsty Monk’s downstairs, while the top is a little more modern. As with the beer, they seem intent on something for every taste, whether you want an open, rollicking room or drinking fine European beer over a hard oak table with your closest.
The Thirsty Monk is located at 92 Patton Ave. For more information, call 254-5470.