Yesterday, my brother treated a friend of his and me to the 812 Cafe in Richmond. Shade from the partially closed venetian blinds covered an otherwise light colored cafe and bar. The tables jammed together with people lent a cramped feeling to this otherwise comfortable atmosphere. Our party was given a table near the bar, and we soon ordered a round of Two-Hearted Ale from Bell’s Brewery. While waiting for the beer, I proposed that we have some appetizers; but, this request was immediately shot down by our generous host on the grounds that the main course would be enough. With the help of the extra calories provided by the beer, this turned out to indeed be the case. So, I can’t complain.
In short time, that round of Two-Hearted Ale arrived. Last year, my brother had offered me a bottle of Two-Hearted Ale. At the time, I did not find it very impressive, perhaps because it was served too cold or kept too long. Anyway, a beautifully tasting IPA met us at the table. The hops provided all the flavor with notes of lime, orange, and grapefruit. This melody of citrus rendered the beer very bitter to boot.
I began to note something amusing in how the waitress handed out the beers: the one with the least amount of head was always handed to me. Now, I’m quite partial to nice, foamy head on my beers. So, it was not without envy that I watched the foamier beers being passed to my companions. However, that did give me a slightly higher volume of beer comparatively; so, perhaps I was being shown extra regard by the waitress.
Back to dinner. We next ordered a round of Epic Brewing’s Santa Cruz Brown Ale. Now, in itself, this was a great ale, but I hoped for something maltier than the beverage in my glass. While there was some malt bitterness when the beer first hit my palate, that was quickly effaced by the hops, which tasted of grapefruit and lime. This onrush of hops was completely unexpected; however, complaints stopped coming to my mind when I found how well it paired with the hamburger covered with onion rings, lettuce, tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, and feta cheese. 821 Cafe really can take pride in their hamburgers.
After the meal, we treated ourselves to one more round of beers–Bison Organic Chocolate Stout in this case. This beer seems to have taken the place of dessert. With its full body, milk chocolate, and walnut flavors, it performed this duty admirably well. This stout came very close to being a liquid chocolate bar.
One more beer I should like to add, despite not imbibing it at the cafe, is Highland Brewing Company’s Gaelic Ale. This very bitter ale is a bit difficult to describe. It had the tea taste one finds in Irish Red Ales, but also had the chocolate flavor found in American Red Ale, which more closely aligns it to the latter. I suppose that American breweries, unlike their fellow brewers across the pond, can’t resist adding brash and showy flavors to their beers, though there stand a few exceptions.
At any rate, I highly recommend all the beers reviewed here. Hope that some of them find their way to your table.