Every once in a while, even us food reviewers need to put our feet up, relax and go have a beer. It was with the urge to hit two proverbial birds with one proverbial stone that I let myself be convinced to review Brutopia.
Opened in 1997, it’s been getting steadily more and more patronage and recognition over the years, until people like me (who used to be a regular back when it opened) have started to shy away and leave it to the college crowd. It was with fond memories that I stepped into the establishment with my dining (drinking) companions. We moved to the upstairs bar (which was closed for a private gathering at the time) and monopolized the only table that was free.
It didn’t take long for our waitress to arrive, willing to bring us food and beer, and I must say, I was impressed that she was able to make heads or tails out of the conflicting and confusing conversation we directed towards her. There was a matter of who was paying for the first round, but in the end, she got it sorted out. Kudos to her.
We ordered the cubano sandwich (roasted pork on baguette, with avocado, aioli and lettuce), some guacamole, lots of fries, quesadillas, and the Bruto burger (1/4 lb mix of beef, pork and ham, topped with cream cheese, aioli, avocado, tomato and lettuce, with fries). To be quite honest, I was pleasantly surprised. For an establishment that prides itself on its brewing, it’s rare to be served food that’s downright delectable.
The critic in me could nitpick about how the burger bun was not toasted enough, or how the guacamole was a little heavy on the cilantro, but really, that would be a little snobbish. The only real complaint I had, was that the prices seemed a little stiff for some of the portions, especially the appetizers. As delicious as the guacamole was, it was a little shocking to see the nearly eight dollar tag assigned to it.
After the first round was bought, I decided to order a sample of all the beers. They arrived on a wooden board with each beer’s name stencilled in pen directly below the different brews.
Their five “classic” beers include the IPA (India pale ale), honey beer, nut brown, X-B (Extra Blonde) and a raspberry blonde. Half of us sided towards the nut brown and the other half preferred the IPA. Some bickering over which beer had the strongest aftertaste, as well as which of the seasonal beers were most likely successful ended when we managed to all agree on one simple fact: the raspberry blonde isn’t a beer.
At least it’s not a beer if you happen to enjoy the taste of beer. It was summed up quite nicely as “raspberry, alcoholic ginger ale” and, put a little less nicely, “the liquid left in a jar of raspberry jam after you’ve filled it with hot water and left it standing for a day in order to clean out jam residue.”
In all fairness, taste is something that is hard to argue. Some enjoyed the Mocha Chocolate Stout because it tasted exactly the way it sounded, while others disliked it for exactly the same reason. Three things were left clear at the end of the evening; first, they really do have a beer for every taste; second, their food ended up being much nicer than anyone really expected from a brewery, and third, no matter how different your taste in beers is, after a few, you’re all going to get along like the best of friends.