We found a spot on Wayne Ave. right in front of the Wooden Iron...had to be fate. I whined until Cathy and Curt agreed to go in for a pre-prandial drink. I got Redbreast, Cathy got a glass of a very nice Shiraz, and Curt got a Hoegaarden, and we talked with the bartender, Dave, an old friend from his days at Gullifty's. Dave's going bold next month: he's going to replace his whole tap selection with "all Victory, all the time." Five or six Victory beers will be the draft beers at the Iron. Ballsy. Dave said his wine and spirits sales have reached the point that even if the Victory experiment is a crashing disaster, he'll survive.
On to Teresa's, where we met Matt "Beer Yard" Guyer -- we'd called him from the road and invited him up to join us for a beer. I was determined to stick to that New Year's resolution, and ordered a Green Flash IPA (Stan? You see this? Green Flash IPA, Stan). It was everything I've come to expect from this beer: breathtaking, assertive, clean as fresh snow, and whip-sharp with classic American hops, piney, pungent, almost puckery, but with enough malt background to keep things lucidly drinkable. I'm not really a big fan of shipping beer all over God's green earth (I'd rather be shipping me all over to drink it fresh), but they can send this East any time they want, and thanks.
What to have next? There were several American IPAs and Double IPAs vying for my attention, but Matt suggested the Ridgeway IPA. Ridgeway is a Dan Shelton import, probably best known for their series of Christmas beers with the whimsical labels: Bad Elf, Very Bad Elf, Seriously Bad Elf, Insanely Bad Elf, and Santa's Butt. Dan's a wild man, and brings in a number of wild beers -- Cantillon, EKU 28, Fantom, Kulmbacher Eisbock -- but he is a fervent champion of smaller, balanced session-type beers -- he has a special love for the insanely drinkable lagers at Mahr's, for instance.
Ridgeway falls in that latter category. I got a taster of this 5.5% IPA (which was the original Bad Elf, re-tooled a bit) and said yeah, pour me a full one. Oh, mama. What a beautiful beer. The balance was perfect: nothing tongue-stripping here, this was just a great beer, very drinkable and flavorful, with none of the diamond-edged hop character of the Green Flash. Ridgeway's hop character is English: spicy, floral, restrained but firm. The malt's wonderful, jazzed up by yeast character, not too heavy, just tasty and fresh. I had two pints.
We got dinner (drunken mussels, quail, a revelation in the form of seared foie gras (Curt, a confirmed non-hophead, got another Shelton beer, Cantillon Kriek, and the sharp acidity of it was a perfect foil for the goose fat), a Cuban sandwich, a duck breast and Serrano ham sandwich, and a cheese plate), and with all the beers it set us back quite a bit, but...a good deal for the experience. Two outstanding beers, great company, delicious food. A night well spent.