Friday, October 30, 2009

I Went in with a Swagger and Left with a Magic Hat

Back in August, I caught Kansas City Lunch Spot's review of a bar in Waldo I'd never heard of. While there are plenty of bars in Waldo I don't pay much attention to (I mean, there are a LOT of bars in Waldo), what stood out about this one was its noteworthy beer selection. 42 beers on tap? Several more in bottles? I had to check this place out.

After two months of merely talking about going, we finally made it on Thursday night. We walked in and I immediately thought, "this dive bar sells good beer??". I wondered if maybe those 42 taps were domestic & import light lagers. One look at all the tap handles at the bar, though, confirmed what I'd read. There were maybe 6-8 people in the entire place, so we had no trouble finding somewhere to sit. We settled in at a booth and the bartender came over almost immediately. With menus in hand, we marveled over the extensive and thoughtful beer selection & made our choices: Saison-Brett and Sixth Glass. Alas, John's ability to order a beer that's out of stock shone through again, so he chose a draft Maredsous 10 instead. The Smokestack bottles there are the cheapest I've seen at a bar - $10 each, except for Saison-Brett which is a whopping $11. And they pour it in Boulevard chalices.

We also ordered a basket of onion rings; I'd read about their magnificence on KC Lunch Spots and wanted to experience their glory. They did not disappoint! Crisp, hot batter coated rather thick rings of onion and embodied everything onion rings should be. We followed that healthy starter with a (giant!) plate of nachos; our friend Rachel ordered a veggie burger which she said was quite good. Next time we go, though, I am ordering the pork sandwich with wasabi slaw. My mouth is watering already.

The night went on and we entertained ourselves by playing a couple (very sloppy) games of pool, figuring out how the electronic dart board worked, and selecting songs off the internet jukebox. Get a couple of beers in us and you get a playlist including David Bowie, Janis Joplin, Eminem, Pearl Jam, and Outkast. The very drunk old guy at the bar didn't seem to mind, though; he even sang along to a couple of our choices.

At one point, Mr Wort Hog overheard the bartender talking to someone about Magic Hat; turns out they got a keg of #9 that day and plan to get other varieties in (in bottles, if I remember correctly). Welcome to Missouri, Magic Hat! I have only had #9 and Lucky Kat and wasn't overwhelmingly impressed, but I've heard their seasonal offerings are quite good. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for their stuff. The bartender at Swagger let us take home a promo poster (pictured) which I thought glowed in the dark - much to my disappointment, it does not.

I love this bar. It's everything I want in a local neighborhood pub, with only two minor annoyances: it was about 75 degrees inside and it smelled like stale cigarettes. It's easy to look beyond those, though, when the beer list is fantastic and affordable, they use some proper glassware (not always, but at least there's some effort), the food is compelling and higher quality than standard pub grub, the staff is friendly, and there's pool & darts. Oh, and did I mention they do breakfast on Saturdays that includes bacon pancakes?

I'll see you there.

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Tasting Notes