I can't remember the last time we had a Dad's Night Out—has it really been a year???
Well, as it turns out, it has been a long time. The last meet was over a year ago! (Where does the time go?) And while it might seem ironic that the place we had chosen to meet was the same place as our last meeting, it's just a testament to the quality of the beers on tap and the mellow vibe of the place ("SHHHHhhhhhhhh...." The weird monk-themed murals don't hurt, either.
Kevin and I met around 1998, when our kids were toddlers at the same daycare. Kevin's been a DNO regular from the get-go at our first meeting in January (we think) of 2004. I also met David a the same daycare, although his oldest was a year behind mine. David's been coming almost as long. Dan and I first met (briefly) when the wife and I rented an apartment in his building, but we really got to know each other when our oldest boys were classmates at Kindergarten in 2005 (the boys are still great friends, by the way). It took until October, 2008, for Dan to join us at DNO, but he hit the ground running and hasn't looked back. So you could say that Dad's Night Out has a long and proud tradition—or at the very least a long tradition.
While we keep that tradition going, things have certainly slowed down a bit from our landingstrip days. There are lots of reasons. For one thing, I think we are all drinking less. While there's never any pressure on anyone to imbibe at DNO, it cannot be denied that good beer is part of the appeal. DNO is probably not the place for a recovering alcoholic, but we might drink three beers now over the course of the evening, as opposed to six or eight! It just doesn't make sense at this age to wake up groggy the next morning and muddle through the day.
Then there is also the fact that we are getting to be that age, with the requisite care for, and/or dealing with the loss of, our parents. Not to mention the complexities of managing our lives with spouses and teenage children, and the demands of our own busy careers! It's a wonder sometimes that we can even get together at all.
Kevin arrived at Burp Castle around 6:40 PM and reached me on the commuter train via text. My train arrived at 7:10 and I was able to get to East Seventh Street by 7:40. Dan texted that he was on his way, and David followed with a text of his own that he would join us within the hour. Kevin was drinking a Kasteel Rouge Belgian Quadrupel. It's a blend of their Kasteel Donker (dark) beer and a sweet cherry liqueur. So it's malty, quite sweet and the right amount of sour, but surprisingly dry and not at all cloying. At 8% ABV, this beer packs a punch, but all who tried it agreed it was fetchingly complex. The cherries give it a deep red color and a strong nose. Outstanding!
I started with an Allagash Curieaux. It's a Belgian-style Tripel that's been partially aged in Bourbon barrels for seven weeks. After the aging, it's blended with fresh Tripel. While it certainly was complex and worthy of trying, I found it way too heavy at 11% ABV. There's just no reason for a beer of this caliber to be so laden with alcohol; it had a bit of a medicinal taste. Glad I had it though...
For the second beer, I had my eye on a Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, but the keg had just kicked. Instead, we all opted for a round of Kasteel Rouge. It's extremely well balanced (unlike the Curieaux) and was tonight's clear winner.
By the time I was ready for a third beer, the Sam Smith had been replaced with a delicious coffee stout, Almanac's Cold Brew Coffeee Barrel Noir (10.3% ABV). The website of this San Francisco brewery features a dizzying array of over sixty beers! My sense is that they brew small artisanal batches; it's hard to imagine stocking and supporting all those beers at once. This beer starts as an Imperial Stout, which is then bourbon barrell-aged and finally steeped with vanilla and coffee beans. It's an explosion of flavor. Again, it's too heavy for my taste, but the strong maltiness and the intense coffee flavor of this beer masks the alcohol much better than the Curieaux did. Kevin opted for an Aldersbacher Kloster Weiss Hell, which was tasty, and at 5.5% ABV, eminently sessionable.
After just three beers—and in Gurley-Glasses, no less—we are all ready for some food, so we ran around the corner to Dallas BBQ for some victuals. I believe there were also Margaritas involved. It was great to jumpstart DNO again with my heroic campadres, and there are already plans afoot for a DWO sometime soon...
41 East 7th St.,
New York, NY 10003
Postscript: While Burp Castle seems to be holding its own, the other joint we went to a year ago, Jimmy's No. 43, has sadly closed. We're not sure why, but it may have had something to do with the huge fire that was caused by someone illegally tapping into the natural gas lines in the adjacent building. As you can see from this GoogleMaps view of the corner, the three affected buildings have been razed and Jimmy's (in the basement of the cream-colored building at the center of the image) may simply have struggled to recover after the accident.