Alibi V.24 No.29 • July 16-22, 2015 

Restaurant Review

Beer First, Food Later

Setting your priorities at Bosque Brewery Public House

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but damn, does our city love beer or what? We now have some two dozen breweries, and probably more than that as a new one seems to open up every week. Aside from the obvious fact that they allow more people to become tipsy on the product of local brewers, the tap rooms are also some of the city’s most popular gathering spots. They’re not the dimly lit dive bars of yesteryear or the bass-pounding meat-market clubs of hookup culture, but a true gathering spot for people to sit down, have a pint or two and enjoy a congenial, casual conversation. A call-back, perhaps, to the original pub culture of England or the beer halls of Germany. You can meet up with some pals, look over a blind date, and even round up another family or two and bring your kids.

A quick word of warning though. Here is the order of priorities if you want to enjoy this place to its full potential: You come for a drink; maybe you get some food. You don’t come for the food and maybe get a drink. Got it?

To that end, Bosque Brewery’s use of the old term “public house” for the location on Central and Girard fits perfectly. The space, though a bit spare in decor, is lively enough at peak hours that the dining room can quickly become overwhelming due to the echoing reverberations of conversation that bounce through the room. If you need something a little quieter, you can step out on to the wrap-around patio and enjoy the evening air and the usual collection of Central Avenue eclectics passing by.

A quick word of warning though. Here is the order of priorities if you want to enjoy this place to its full potential: You come for a drink; maybe you get some food. You don’t come for the food and maybe get a drink. Got it? Let’s go over it one more time: Drink first, food second. With that order now established, let’s dive into the beer.

Feeling summery, I took a quick tour of the lighter beers, made possible with a collection of 5 oz. sample pours ($2 apiece). Riverwalker IPA offers a nose-punching hop bouquet that leans toward the citrusy, while still having a malty enough body to prop it up, so to speak. The Bosque lager, a bright golden pour that glistens like sunlight, makes for a low-alcohol pint that goes down quickly on the pub’s patio. Unlike other lagers, this one has enough bitter at the base to keep it interesting. Summer in Hallertau, a light pale ale on seasonal offering, puts forward a piney, orangey aroma, but backs it up with a crisp, quenching body of flavor.

My favorite of the beers on tap, though, is actually the very first Bosque brew that I tried way back when I reviewed Spinn’s Burgers. The Scotia Scotch ale, a full-bodied, caramelly batch of complex, malty nectar, is much heavier than the others, but damn, is it good. It is pretty darn high in alcohol content with an 8.4% abv, so you’ll definitely want to take it easy on this one if you don’t want your friends to have to shove you into your Uber ride.

Italian Sandwich
Italian Sandwich with green chile strew
Now, after a touch of inebriation, it’s time to talk about the food. This is as it should be; we’re not in “gastropub” territory, this is more pub grub. Even so, you want to eat something worthwhile, right? To that end, skip the happy hour specials altogether. I mean, I get it, it’s Happy Hour, and you want something special, but resist the impulse. You will only be disappointed in the lackadaisical beer cheese nachos and such.

Instead, go straight for the real menu. Epecially the sandwiches. Two of these particularly impressed me. The caprese, on thinly sliced ciabatta bread, uses fresh tomatoes and mozzarella for a light summery bite. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar gives it a lilt as it touches your tongue, and it’s perfect to pair with a lager or a pale ale. The Italian sandwich, also on ciabatta, is more heavy, with capicola ham, gruyere and feta cheese, as well as a topping of sliced olive tapenade. It’s a dark, savory flavor that goes well with a similarly dark beer. I also tried the pretzel brat sandwich, made with a green chile bratwurst, but found the meat dry and the green chile flavor far too muted to make an impact. Skip it.

German brat
German brat with sauerkraut, salad
If you’re getting a midday tipple on, then the lunch special is worth checking out. For $7 you get half a sandwich and either soup or salad. If the soup of the day doesn’t sound appealing to you, check out the excellent green chile stew, which is offered daily.

But really, your priority here is the beer, the camaraderie and the conversation. If you keep that in mind, you will be very happy.

View in Alibi Chowtown Chowtown

Bosque Brewery Public House

106 Girard SE
508-5967
bosquebrewing.com

Hours: 11am to 11pm, Monday through Wednesday
11am to 12am, Thursday
11am to 1am, Friday and Saturday
12pm to 11pm, Sunday
Vibe: Loud and friendly
Extras: Happy hour (3pm to 6pm, daily)

The Alibi recommends: Scotia Scotch ale, Bosque lager, Italian sandwich, caprese