Facebook can be a wonderful thing. Or it can be really annoying and have lots of ads, political filth and Farmville on it. But yesterday I was happy that we were plugged in to this almost necessary modern evil. My wonderful wife happened to read one of the frequent updates from the Four Firkins that afternoon encouraging people to come out to a special pouring of some new Alaskan beers at the store. Since it takes about a half hour to get there from where we live I wasn't so sure it was worth the trip, but upon seeing the ice and snow in the forecast for the rest of the week I changed my mind. Best decision all week!
We drove down to the Firkins and were greeted personally by the always gregarious and friendly Jason Alvey, then pointed toward the tasting bar for our free samples. Shawn from Alaskan was pouring samples of the new Freeride APA which was a malty and easy drinking pale ale, as well as handing out sweet logo bandannas for my future as a leather and chaps-wearing biker. We also got to try the new Troppelbock, a strong (tripel) bock beer aged with oak chips. I liked that beer quite a bit, as the oak cut the sweetness and made it much more drinkable than expected. After our tasting we had planned on visiting the newly opened Steel Toe Brewery taproom just down the road, but we became sidetracked by our visit to the Firkins and let that plan go for another time.
What began as a simple tasting of a couple new beers soon expanded and we were able to sample some other beers as well including Lift Bridge Irish Coffee Stout and the amazing adult chocolate milk beverage called Odell Lugene. Alvey was in an especially expansive mood and even shared a couple of his special cellared beers with us, making this an extraordinary visit to the Firkins. Sj and I had such a good time sampling these beers and hanging out with Alvey, Michael, Ian and Cory that we ended up staying more than an hour. I, of course, bought plenty of new and interesting beers while we were there as well. I'm guessing I'll need to wear my attack-dog training suit to safely get that Lugene out of Sj's paws.
Realizing that time had flown and we needed dinner, Michael was kind enough to direct us to the newly opened Red Cow as a great local option. Despite sub-par navigation by my usually homing-pigeon-like wife, we arrived near the crowded restaurant. After skate/sloshing our way through some of the most treacherous "sidewalks" I've ever seen, we were able to get seated right away. The restaurant is small, crowded and quite loud, but has an excellent vibe that defies description. Funky pictures, including a psychedelic blue cow, line the dark walls. Seating is tight, but everyone there was having such a fantastic time that the mood seemed infectious upon entering the building. Our server was very good and food came out quickly, thankfully! The menu focus is upscale burgers and fries, heavily meat/cow oriented but with some vegetarian and sea food options available--though why a vegetarian would frequent a place called Red Cow boggles my mind! We started with a large skillet of poutine (that Canadian delicacy of fries slathered with gravy, cheese and meat,) which was more than tasty. They also have Scotch eggs on the menu so I must go back! They also had a very well balanced beer list with a few choices from most styles as well as a lot of wines by the glass.
For main course I tried the Elk Wellington. One of my Last Supper meal options would be Beef Wellington (tender beef fillet slathered in liver pate and wrapped up in a puff pastry) and I see it so seldom on menus that I had to get this. Their version was a perfectly cooked elk patty wrapped in a brie-type cheese and puff pastry, served with a flavorful dipping sauce. Oh, and don't forget the Parmesan truffle fries. I am a sucker for truffle. I will need to go back to try The Royale--a beef pattie topped with pork belly--but probably need to order it with cheese in reference to Pulp Fiction.
Overall, this little spontaneous trip to try a couple sips of beer spiraled out of control and became an epic beer tasting and incredible dinner date. I must thank Sj for suggesting we try this, and Alvey, Michael and Ian at the Four Firkins for treating us so well and pointing us toward Red Cow. What I get from this little mini-mid-week adventure is that you need to go out and try things if you want a chance at enjoyable randomness. Gotta play to win! Your results may vary, but I highly suggest a trip to the Firkins and to Red Cow in the near future.