Sunday, July 20, 2008

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall...

Variety is the spice of life, right? That's why ice cream comes in a mind-boggling assortment of flavors, it's why Madonna changes her look every five years or so, and it's why Coaster's Pub in Melbourne, FL offers over 120 varieties of beer. Yeah, you read that number right. According to their website, they offer at least 127 different kinds of beer. Sure, you can get a Bud Light or a Michelob Ultra, but why would you when you could sample something unique like a Holy Mackerel (brewed right here in Melbourne, FL)?

Kyle and I (and our friends) visit Coaster's at least once a month, sometimes more, and the most difficult part of the visit is always selecting your first beer. Do I want a stout? An IPA? A Hefe Weisse? It's a daunting decision, which is why we were so excited when we went for lunch last weekend and our server told us that they'd be hosting a beer tasting! Of course, we were there yesterday (the day of the event), with bells on for the tasting, which did not disappoint.

For $20, you could buy 12 tickets (baseball cards, actually, which we found entertaining). Each card could be redeemed for a 4oz sample pour of your choice of 70 beers. Kyle and I split a 12-pack of tickets, as did the two friends that joined us. However, we all made sure to order different beers, and we'd pass ours around to table, meaning that in actuality, we sampled about 24 different kinds! (We also instituted a scoring system, which sparked some very lively debate!)
The six beers I sampled were- Rogue Chocolate Stout (a stout, obviously), Lukaya Two Tail Ale (a pale ale, brewed in Vero, FL), Chimay Premier (a Belgian dubble), Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre (a Belgian experimental), Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (an Imperial IPA) and Cooper's Sparkling Ale (an English pale ale). I really liked all my choices, but my favorites were the Rogue Chocolate Stout, which was dark and "chewy" with a wonderful bitter chocolate and cocoa aftertaste, and the Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre. Raison d'etre is a French phrase that roughly translates to "a reason for existing"- which I thought seemed like a pretty steep claim for a beer. However, this one came close- it had a beautiful golden brown color and a rich, slightly caramel-y flavor. Both were very good.

You can't drink all that beer without something to munch on, and the menu at Coaster's offers plenty of options. For the most part, it's good old fashioned pub grub, but, damn is it good pub grub! On days when I'm feeling virtuous, I order the broiled Mahi salad, on more indulgent days I get buffalo wings (Kyle loooooves wings and we've eaten our fair share around town, but in my opinion, these are some of the best in Melbourne). Today, though, the "Turben" caught my eye- a Ruben, made with turkey instead of beef. Kyle agreed that it looked good, so we decided to order the "humongous" size (all the sandwiches come in regular or humongous) and split it. It arrived, and more than lived up to it's name- it was huge!!! (The picture over there is half of the humongous sandwich! Half!) It was also super yummy- the rye bread was toasty but not greasy (a common pitfall of toasted/grilled sandwiches), there was just enough sauerkraut and dressing... so good. It might just be my new favorite there.

I want to especially thank the owners, Dave and Wendy Swartz and Joe and Shannon Baun, who were so nice letting me take their pictures (and pictures in the pub). They were so warm and friendly, and you can tell just talking to them that they are really passionate about beer and what they do.

All the beers we sampled (plus more) were available on the regular menu (though the beer menu changes based on seasonal availability).
If you find yourself on Florida's Space Coast, be sure to visit Coaster's Pub, located at 971A E. Eau Gallie Blvd., Melbourne, FL 32937. (The corner of A1A and Eau Gallie.)

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