Thursday, October 25, 2012

Beer and Space Part 2

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Oct. 25, 2012

Yesterday I set out on a little adventure through Colorado.  After writing this post, in which I discussed the idea that the actual physical space in which a beer is consumed makes a big difference in how that beer is perceived by the drinker.

I set out to have a beer at two different breweries.  My first destination was Dostal Alley in Central City, CO.  I picked this location out specifically because of the crowded nature and lack of space I had read about in Dostal Alley's reviews.  Several people had written about it being cramped and difficult to find the room to relax.

When I arrived I was sorely disappointed.  There seemed to be plenty of room!  I was there during a slower time, of course, but still the tables didn't seem too close together and the small, downstairs bar was empty.  The upstairs bar, however, was what I had read about and this was the main bar.  As a bar/brewpub/casino, the upstairs bar had video poker machines built into the bar and I began my adventure there.

The machines were not as tightly packed together as I had suspected, there was plenty of room for your beer.  However, it was fairly annoying to have the machine right there.  The room was full of bright sunlight, though, and it had nice, high ceilings and felt very open.  The interesting thing was that of the four other people at this big, long bar (which had about 14-15 seats) only one was actually playing the machine.

In terms of simply enjoying my beer, it was not all that difficult.  In fact, after sampling the brown ale and the IPA I decided to go with their Gulpin Gold House Special IPA and it was quite good; a nice, grassy, hoppy and assertive IPA.

The only real problem with the machines at the bar was that they made eating there a little annoying.  After ordering an appetizer I chose to move to the downstairs bar to finish it along with the rest of my beer.  I was the only person sitting there, which gave me the opportunity to learn a little more about the beer from the bartender and to spread out a bit.

So, yes, the weird bar setup did negatively impact my experience upstairs, but not in the same way I had imagined.  I wished that it had actually been as cramped as I suspected it would be.

Anyhow, on to another brewery.  I finished up my one beer in Central City and then made the nearly hour-long drive to Golden, Colorado - home of Golden City Brewery.  Golden City likes to call themselves the second largest brewery in Golden, but despite the literal truth of this statement, there is nothing large about it at all.

The tasting room is in the coach house of the owner's personal residence (which is also where the small batch brewing takes place).  When I opened the door to walk in, I hit someone in the back who was sitting at one of the few tables in what probably used to be someone's living room.  He had to stand up in order for me to get inside.  And then I had to walk sideways between two tables to get to the counter where there were no bar stools, or even room to stand.  I ordered a flight, which included 5 of their 7 beers (two were out) and I carefully carried the tray to the lone open table - a 2-person booth in the corner.

Once I sat down, I had some space to spread out.  I set the small menu which described the beers next to my tray and sipped as I read.  This was clearly a cramped room, but as I sat there I noticed that the small space was not having a negative impact on me.  This felt like home.  Cozy.  And with a room full of warm bodies it was a comfortable escape from the sleet and snow that was just beginning to fall outside.

So as it turns out, not every small, tightly packed drinking area is so bad.  That said, there is a large beer garden outside Golden City Brewery, which on a summer day would be the perfect place to enjoy a brew or two, but for this cold, dark wintery afternoon, cozy was the way to go.

With the snow coming down and night setting in I felt like it was time to head back to Boulder.  After downing a pint of water I headed back north and reflected on the space issue (and just how crazy I must be to have driven 90 miles over the course of three and a half hours just to get a couple beers).  And after thinking long and hard about IT, what it came down to was an old adage; the size doesn't really matter, it's just how you use it.

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