Visit the Green Dragon Pub within Bilbo Baggins Restaurant and you’ll find your choice of beers, many of which can be difficult to come by (or novel to try).
Photo by Hope Nelson.
Ready to kick back with friends or catch the big game? Here are three spots with great beer lists — and great food, too.
Rustico, 827 Slaters Lane
Pop into Rustico and sidle up to the bar, and you’re sure to be pleased with the menu. Not sure what you’re looking for? The beer list is here to help, breaking down the choices into different groupings, ranging from “Dark and Dry” to “Malt Accented.” Choose the style you’re after and you’ll find a great deal of options waiting.
Looking for something with a little get-up-and-go? The Pale Joe by Founders Brewing, a beverage finished with Ethiopian coffee beans, will add a little pep in your step while providing complexity in the glass. Or cool off with an Allagash White, a crowd-pleaser that’s mild on the palate.
While you sip, be sure to munch on some deep-fried deviled eggs (and order more than you think you should — they disappear much too quickly). Crispy chickpeas also hit the spot, adding a little pizazz to standard bar fare.
Bilbo Baggins, 208 Queen St.
Tucked away on a quiet block of Queen Street, just a couple of blocks from the water, Bilbo Baggins is a lesson in duality. Enter through one door and you’ll find yourself in the dining room, where lunch or dinner await. But enter through the door pointing toward the Green Dragon Pub and you’ll find your choice of beers, many of which can be difficult to come by (or novel to try).
As it happens, Bilbo Baggins offers one of the more trendy beers right now — the Jai Alai IPA from Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Fla. As one would expect from Florida, the Jai Alai possesses some tropical notes but also stays true to the hoppier nature of a classic IPA. For something with a fewer hops, give the Berliner Weisse Elderflower a try. Hailing from Pennsylvania’s Victory Brewing, the weisse beer is malty and pale, and light enough to be the star of happy hour.
Now, to be clear, the beer list is available in the regular dining room as well, so don’t feel hamstrung if the pub is packed and you’d like a little more room to breathe. And while you’re in the dining room, ordering some food wouldn’t hurt. From pizza to schnitzel, from salads to pasta, Bilbo Baggins is indeed a “Global Restaurant” as their tagline states.
Port City Brewing, 3950 Wheeler Ave.
Until Portner’s opens its doors later this year, Alexandria is a one-brewery town. Thankfully, Port City is holding down the fort just fine until reinforcements come in, thank-you-very-much. From national awards to local fandom, Port City’s got quite a following, and their taps continue to broaden to meet demand.
Oktoberfest, one of the first hallmarks of impending autumn, has arrived once more on draft in the tasting room. A Marzen-style lager, Oktoberfest will bring you straight to Germany; indeed, German hops and malts are the stars within this amber beverage. Or say goodbye to summer with a final taste of the brewery’s Derecho Common, a golden beer that has more hoppiness than its color would let on.
In terms of food to consume as you sip, the tasting room has nothing to offer indoors. But never fear: Nearly every weekend brings with it a food truck or two, ranging from barbecue to sandwiches to many other options. Belly up to the food bar and then bring your selection back inside for the best of both worlds.
Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.