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52 Weeks: Stairway to Belgium, Sarasota, FL

 

Stairway to Belgium: Sarasota, FL

Week 13 of 52

Stairway to Belgium

1359 Main Street

Sarasota, FL

Rank: #6 of 12

Beer Bar/Restaurant

BEERS ON TAP (at time of visit) —>

St. Bernardus Abt 12

Dogfish Head 90 min

Stella Artois

Smuttynose Old Brown Dog

and others…

BOTTLE OPTIONS: Oh so many…check out their bottle list here. We indulged in Saint Somewhere, Smuttynose, Weyerbacher….

FOOD OPTIONS:  Amazing food. This menu covers a lot. You have Belgium dishes such as Mussels and frites and stew, plus down home country food like AMAZING ribs and mac and cheese to salads, grilled wings and sandwiches. It doesn’t stop there with waffles as their main dessert option. So many different types of food to pair with the long list of beers. We may not be in Belgium, but we are in heaven.

BAR OPINION:

In order to access the restaurant, you walk up a flight of stairs and as you approach the top of the stairs, glowing in the background, is a large refrigerator full of bottles. To my left a row of about 10 taps.

The space itself is large and poorly decorated. I felt like I was in a cheap Italian restaurant as opposed to holding the cozy, humble qualities that I loved so dearly in Belgium beer bars.  Now, we know we are not in Belgium, and that this place has only been open 7 weeks, but with several amazing restaurants in the immediate area, its time to decorate.

Beer time. A 750 ml of Saint Somewhere Lectio Divina was shared. A farmhouse ale brewed by a Florida brewery, it was darker in color than expected, but funky and full of flavor. We had tried a bottle of Saint Somewhere’s Pays Du Soleil a few months back when it first hit shelves in Seattle. We were incredibly impressed and decided to jump on a Lectio Divina in the brewery’s home state. We weren’t disappointed with the beer, but we weren’t flattened by its finish. A little crisp for a true farmhouse ale.

Dogfish Head 90 min was enjoyed by half of the table, as this well balanced IPA was straight from the tap. We started some beer rookies out with this beer, and they loved it. Dogfish Head’s ales reach the widest spectrum of the beer drinking public. Flavor seems to be key.

Weyerbacher’s Blithering Idiot, a barleywine and Smuttynose IPA cured our longing for Midwestern/Eastern beers. Blithering Idiot resembles more of a strong Belgian bruin ale, as opposed to an English Barleywine – which is why I reached for this beer on Belgium night. At 11.5% – it will take you places – but without an extreme sugary flavor.

During our visit, we were hosted by a very friendly and seemingly knowledgeable waitress named Mischa. Mischa did much to ensure that we enjoyed our time at the restaurant.

She directed us to some wonderful food, including the pound of char-grilled chicken wings that I split between the Beer Garlic and Inferno sauces. I loved these wings. Over time, I have come to believe that a grilled wing is vastly superior to the fryer. Their inferno sauce is the better of the two.

We also enjoyed some flemish stew, frites, mac and cheese and florida ribs. All of the food was very good. We were most impressed with the frites, which were traditionally double fried, heavily salted and accompanied with a spicy aoli. Get them.

In the end, our waitress was pleasant, the beer selection keeps you preoccupied, and the food was above average.  Its a win.

Pointer: Sit by the window, it will distract you from the poor decor. Recommended. Go there.

Help Beer Blotter: Where Would You Have a Beer in Tampa/Sarasota FL?

Cigar City Brewing: A Florida Gem

Tomorrow we leave for Florida. Prior to having an active interest in beer, Florida would have been the last place I would have looked for good beer and beer bars. However, I have come to the realization that Florida is ranked higher than ever expected, with top beer bars, top breweries and let’s face it, warm weather.

Cigar City Brewing Co. out of Tampa boast 13 of the top 50 best beers on the East Coast with Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, the Bourbon Barrel Aged version of Hunahpu and Zhukov’s Final Push (stout) reining in 1, 2 and 3. As far as beer bars go, you have Redlight Redlight (100 on ratebeer.com) in Orlando, the Cock and Bull Pub (a 97 on ratebeer.com) in Sarasota and Peg’s Cantina (94 on ratebeer.com) in Gulf Port.

Saint Somewhere is another brewery that produces fine crafted brews out of FL, Tarpoon Springs to be exact. Saint Somewhere prides themselves on Belgium style beers, including a Farmhouse Ale previously reviewed by Timperial Stout. Click here to read more.

We will be visiting Tampa and Sarasota. On our list of hopeful spots to visit: Cigar City Brewing Co., The Cock and Bull Pub and Stairway to Belgium for some mussels and frites and a bottle list full of Wheat beers, Blonde ales, Tripels, Trappist brews, Strong ales, Saisons and Bruins. Also on their list are some treats from East of the Mississippi: Smuttynose, Weyerbacher, Lazy Magnolia and Bell’s Brewery.

Leave us a comment or send us an email at beerblotter@gmail.com and fill us in on all the places in the Tampa/Sarasota area that can’t be missed. Hell throw in places in other cities in Florida, you never know where we will end up!

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