Thursday is quickly becoming the new Friday. I had never heard the term “Thirsty Thursday” prior to hitting college, but in the years since, I have found that it is a staple of many working class social schedules. For those who may not know, Thirsty Thursday essentially adds an extra evening of fun to your weekend: it’s a step up from the perfunctory weekday happy hour, but a few steps down from an all-out Friday night bar bar-hopping extravaganza. It’s a good time.
Last week, my crew and I headed to Manito Tap House on Spokane’s South Hill for our own pre-weekend get-together. None of us were strangers to this particular gastropub: we had ventured up here on several occasions to sample myriad beer styles and the products of breweries both far and wide. Tonight, we had a very specific purpose for making the journey south, that being to check out the eight (eight!) different brews on tap from Delaware’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. The allure of potentially nabbing some Dogfish Head swag was also a contributing factor in determining our destination. We were on a mission and could not be deterred.
Manito Tap House is known throughout town for being one of the best bars to not only enjoy rare, limited-release, and otherwise difficult-to-find beers, but also because there is a decent chance that you may run into a brewer or representative from any number of breweries enjoying a pint there. About once a month or so, Manito Tap House hosts events with featured breweries. These events may be a few hours of featured beers or exclusive firkins, or an entire four-course meal designed around a few of a brewery’s highlighted brews. Past participants of these brewer’s nights have included Hopworks Urban Brewery, Ninkasi, Big Sky Brewing Company, Laughing Dog, Lagunitas, Harmon, Fremont, Deschutes, and New Belgium, and that’s not even the complete list!
Considering Dogfish Head’s formidable list of past brews and collaborations, we were more than a little eager to see what was on tap and, consequently, sample every Dogfish Head brew available. Though we didn’t doubt that we would be, we were not disappointed. While waiting for our table, we took some time to review the tap list and to make some preliminary decisions regarding what we would drink. We all felt delightfully smothered by the IPA selections alone: the nationally-lauded and palate-busting 90 Minute IPA, the old world/new wave blend that is Burton Baton, a biting ale with a whisper of sweet stonefruit known as Aprihop, and the debut of Hop 644 in a Sierra Nevada collaboration called Rhizing Bines. Though IPAs are an unrelenting crowd favorite in these parts, the options didn’t stop there. We were also treated to the magnificent alternatives of the comforting Indian Brown, the warming Chicory Stout, and, the sole lager of the line-up, the startlingly hoppy My Antonia. Hold up- there was one more. This was the big daddy of the group, in more ways than one. Weighing in at an astounding 18% ABV, one of Dogfish Head’s “Occasional Rarities”, a vintage 1/26/2012 World Wide Stout. Did I mention it was 18% ABV, as in over four times as potent as your average Bud Light? Yay or yikes? A bit of both, really. On the off chance that one was not altogether satisfied with the magnificently wide-ranging choices on tap, Dogfish Head’s gluten-free gem, Tweason Ale, was also available by the bottle. We were getting thirsty just thinking about the choices, so we were more than eager to order by the time we sat down at our table.
After some careful consideration of the choices, including discussions of IBU and ABV levels, adjuncts, and pour volumes, (yes, we’re all…ahem…beer snobs) we made our choices. The possibility of sampling a new hop variety was too much for one of my friends and I to resist, so we started off with a pint each of Rhizing Bines. Another wanted something a bit more passively hoppy, so it was My Antonia for him. Yet another couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on anything at all, so she went with the sample paddle, allowing her to try six beers of her choosing. Only one brave soul in our quartet took the plunge and ordered the World Wide Stout. Little did he know, we’d all be helping him finish it. As is the way of things, after being served our beers, each pint was passed around so that it could be smelled, tasted, and analyzed by each person. My friend and I were both intrigued by Rhizing Bines: not as bombastically citrusy as some other IPAs we had had, this was more soft-spoken. Glowing gold in color and dry-hopped with a brand new hop varietal, this ale did a splendid job of showcasing Hop 644, all while providing the drinker with an unrelenting and altogether drinkable IPA. A quick poll of those at our table revealed that everyone else was equally satisfied with his/her selections. We were off to an excellent start.
Each of us took our sweet time with our beers. With such unique and altogether enjoyable brews, we all seemed to agree that it would have been a waste of a good beer to simply toss it back and move on to the next one. Oh, no. Good things take time. So, sip away, we did, chatting about what was new with everyone, recent vacations, big moves, and additional topics of varying relevance. All in all, a magnificent time was had by all enjoying both the beers and the company.
After finish our first round of Dogfish Head beers, we succumbed to the temptation to try a few more of the incredibly unique available brews. One couldn’t resist the draw of Rogue’s Morimoto Imperial Pilsner, one of her personal favorites. I was fascinated by the prospect of Fort George’s Roses on Roses, an imperial IPA aged in a Four Roses bourbon barrel and conditioned with rose hips; it was lovely and terrifically ladylike. After tackling the behemoth that was the World Wide Stout, my friend’s husband was ready to take things down a notch, ABV-wise, opting for another Dogfish Head Brew, Indian Brown Ale. Succeeding our head-first swan dives into Dogfish Head’s realm of extreme brews, we took comfort in the knowledge that we had accomplished our goal for the evening, that being to take in all that Dogfish Head had to offer.
By the time we got to wrapping up our second round, our initial hopes of walking away with some Dogfish Head memorabilia had entirely slipped our minds. Having taken advantage of the opportunity to drink some exceptional beers brewed thousands of miles away was memorabilia enough. My friends and I each had a grand time sampling new beers and chatting to our hearts’ contents. Our adventure out was an ambrosial distraction from our workweeks and an exultant excuse to venture out from our habitual neighborhood hang-outs. The merry memory now has me pining for our next beer-venture. Is it Thursday yet?