Drink of the Week: Long Strange Tripel

Newstead Tower Public House
4353 Manchester Avenue

Oct 29, 2008 at 4:00 am
Barack Obama handily won the Scholastic News election by a margin of eighteen points. The students who vote, from kindergarteners to high school seniors, have correctly picked the president-elect all but twice since the first Scholastic ballot was cast in 1940.

And consider that for years, people looked to the outcome of the Washington Redskins game on the Sunday prior to Election Day: If the Skins won, the incumbents would keep the White House; if they lost, the opposing party would gain control.

There's something innate in the collective psyche that longs to decipher patterns, to make connections — however superficial they may be — that establish some sort of order to an otherwise messy world. So should Democrats take it as a bad omen that the Baracktoberfest beer at Newstead Tower Public House stubbornly refused to flow from the tapper, leaving our pint glass as dry as Hillary Clinton's coffers were back in April?

Baracktoberfest (really just Schlafly's Oktoberfest brew repurposed) has been selling like gangbusters, says our bartender, Dayna, who jokes that Baracktoberfest also cures cancer. Sales of McCain's Maverick APA and Palin Ale (Schlafly's Dry-Hopped APA and Pale Ale) are not as swift. So we consult the beer list and find a respectable, but not overwhelming, number of choices: Here, quality happily outweighs quantity.

The one-year-old bar is trimmed in cherry wood, and the hardwood floors create a warm atmosphere that's all the more inviting under the glow of vaguely British-looking streetlamps. Tea lights encased in tiny tin lanterns flicker on each table, and patrons' scarves hang, genteel-like, over an iron hook; indeed, Newstead Public Tower House is a good place to stay awhile.

We decide to split a bottle of Long Strange Tripel — a beer whose moniker is as reflective of the presidential campaign as any we've seen. In reality, it's named after Harold "Trip" Hogue who parlayed his knowledge of restoring old cars into fixing equipment that would come to crank out Kansas City-based Boulevard Brewing Company's first beers in 1989. Boulevard's Smokestack Series, of which Long Strange Tripel is one, is a much newer addition to Boulevard's line. It just rolled out last fall.

The 750-milliliter corked bottle opens with the celebratory pop of Champagne. Dayna then brings out two snifters, and when she fills them, a thick head seems to hover over the beer — a sort of meringue atop the pumpkin-pie-hued ale.

The Long Strange Tripel benefits from its trio of malts — pale, Munich and malted wheat — and it fizzes and dances on the tongue, leaving behind traces of flowers and fruit. At $14, it's a different sort of indulgence that's made even sweeter by sharing the oversize bottle. Honestly, we like it so much that we probably could have finished it by ourselves, but on this night we find it makes more sense to, you know, spread the wealth around. Newstead has an abundance of riches.

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