So, about a month ago, I had an idea to start a series of articles regarding the Craft and Micro Breweries of Missouri.
I think these small time (I don’t mean that derogatory) breweries are really the only thing that keeps us from drinking Budweiser day in and day out (remember, Guinness started this way) and are an essential part of the Missouri culture and economy.
When I felt out my friends, fellow bloggers and a few breweries, I got some instant feedback. Everyone seemed for it, so we just waited for the perfect minute to strike.
We had another Brewpub in mind to kick things off, but things didn’t work out as we thought, so…on the spur of the moment, we decided to hit a local…Broadway Brewery in Columbia MO.
Established in 2009, Broadway is one of the newer breweries on the tour. Focusing on locally produced produce on their menu with a brewpub to boot, the owners felt that Columbia MO could support two Craft Breweries…with both complementing each other vs. directly competing.
A quick look showed us that Sunday was our best bet, with a Signature Brewery Glass and first drink for on $5 and a additional beers for $2.50 (some of the higher end beers would be an additional $1).
We arrived unannounced Sunday Morning and took over a corner of the pub as 6 of us sat down to taste various beers.
As we sat down, various questions came up
- Is this a serious tasting? <I voted that since this was the first, it would be more informal>
- How do we cleanse palettes? <I didn’t know, but researched it for Rex HERE>
- Do we have score sheets? <No, but we are working on being more professional in the future>
- Should we eat while tasting? <Against everything we would later learn regarding palettes, we all voted YES>
- Where is Morton? <He was too depressed to come>
We started out with no rhyme nor reason, and again…this could impact the views here and in the future, we will take a more systematic approach (hey, this was our first time )
Here are the notes from group -
- Blonde Cream – <TommyG> I like a hoppy beer as much as the next guy, but I would never describe myself as a hop head. I can and will drink ESBs, APAs, and IPAs and enjoy them; but I much prefer Belgian beer styles that place less emphasis on an overpowering hoppy character. Perhaps that would explain why I felt that the Blonde Cream was my favorite ...of the day. Visually it was pleasing, being kind of a cloudy blonde beer and the first that you noticed when you drank it was that it imparted an interesting, almost creamy mouth feel, that almost coated your mouth in a beer-y goodness. While all of the beers we sampled that morning were tasty, I felt that the Blonde Cream was one that really stood out to me personally.
- ESB – <Rex> Mike and I agreed that the ESB was more like Extra 'Meh' but it did give an opportunity to chat up the server with lame ESP jokes which I'm sure were the first anyone had every heard.
- Dry Stout – <Ed>You can definitely get the taste of roasted coffee and malt. I liked the dryness, but this wouldn’t sit well with me over a three hour bender.
- Alt Bier - Awaiting other input
- Double IPA – Awaiting other input
- <Ed>From nose to finish, this is for the hopheads. Little disappointed that this was served in a snifter vs a Pint glass, but I can somewhat understand the desire to hold some of the hoppy aromas in with a taper so that your nose is directly in there for full enjoyment. A little darker than I expected, the flavors really come through as the flowery/grassy notes really step out. This and the Winter Strong were my two favorites.
- Imperial Stout – <Ed> Upon initial tasting, it was the general consensus that this tasted just like Guinness (the non-Nitrogen bottled version). No that there is anything wrong with Guinness, it’s my favorite beer, but it was not what was expected nor as advertised. Later, when meeting with the brew master, he checked and found that the taps had been mislabeled with Schlafly Imperial Stout. Easy mistake. Served in a snifter glass, the beer has a great color and aroma. The advanced flavors of caramels and malts work well, but the hint of hops is a little off-putting. While a good beer, I would pour this by the pint instead of the snifter to make it more worth the price.
- One of the menu items that was not available on tap was the Winter Strong Ale. It was currently in the fermenting process. Paul was kind enough to draw off some of the wort and let us get a preview-
- Winter Strong Ale- <Ed>While still not properly aged; this would be the beer I would gravitate to here at Broadway Brewery. Sweeter than I expected (although not sticky sweet like a Barley Wine), I got hints of fruit (Blackberry) and nuts with great mouth feel. Would love to try this when fully matured.
Both TommyG and I did get a few moments with the Brew master Paul, and he was kind enough to take us on a quick tour of the brewery.
While smaller than I expected, it was efficient and seemed to handle the demand (400 Barrels a year) for them.
I was particularly surprised to learn how much Paul’s Assistant Brew master handles some of the brewery process itself. Far too often, the assistant is not much more than a cleaning lackey, so this is a testament of them cutting their teeth at the same time and learning from experience. This can only bode well for the future.
In talking with Paul, we learned that the brewery is a second job for him (thus the involvement of the assistant), that he got his start as a home brewer, Broadway Brewery is a sponsor of the True/False Film Festival (hosting the Director’s Dinner) and that they have a vision of expansion…with a plan if need be.
<TommyG> Paul the Brew master admitted openly to being a hophead to Ed and Myself when we were touring his brewing equipment. That would explain why almost all of the beer offerings were a little too hoppy for my taste. I drank them all, and enjoyed them all, but I felt a little more variety could be a good thing here. I get that he is trying to embrace the American brewing style of spiking everything with bitter hops, but its just not my thing. I think an addition of a milder beer, like a British Style brown ale or a wheat beer could have replaced one either the ESB, APA or IPA and it would improved the portfolio.
<Ed>I personally won’t get into the food (if Debi wants to start her own Food Blog, I would happily support her), other than…while there were a few problems, there was no food left on plates when we were done. I will commend the manager for a free round when he heard of the shortcomings, as it is this time of engagement that can make or break a restaurant/pub.
<TommyG> So, you go to their website, and trying to read the menu is a disaster. They really could have done a better job with posting it online. Even worse? There are no prices posted online. That is because while their food isn’t crazy expensive, its priced a little too high for what you get. Don’t get me wrong, everything is very tasty, and made very well. It just doesn’t seem like a great bang for the buck. When I want light pub fair, I don’t want it to be too heavy on the wallet. And I also expect the food to be made right. That morning we ordered eggs, 1 order over medium; 1 sunny side up; and one over easy. There was not anything cooked easy about the eggs. All of the yolks were cooked hard, and that was just simply not how we ordered them. That being said, we all ate them with a smile because it was simply delicious; but it was not how we ordered it. Their dinner menu also feels a little small. I can always find something on it to order, but I could never shake the feeling that I only had half a menu and that there was another menu with better options on it that someone wasn’t sharing with me. Food overall 3 out of 5. A passing grade, but…
<Debi> I ate it, but only because it was there, and I was drinking. If I ever go back, I will definitely eat first
AMBIANCE and SETTING -
<Ed>On Sundays, they have live music, that was quite honestly nothing short of excellent. All Proceeds from donations go to a charity that is near and dear to us, so that was a big plus.
<TommyG> Broadway Brewery wins big when it comes to the ambiance. Located in a basement section of Downtown Columbia, it utilizes its space perfectly. It is cozy without feeling crowded, the lighting is subdued without ever feeling dim and claustrophobic. The décor leans heavily towards exposed brick and polished wood and while a little bland, they manage to pull it off. Our waitress was excellent; friendly, prompt, and helpful. The live music they had that day was fantastic, an Irish string ensemble and they provided the perfect backdrop to the afternoon. My only beef with the place is the men's room. It is cramped and they shoved too many toilets into too small of a space. When you are dropping about $20/person for dinner and drinks you don’t want to be crowded in the bathroom. Another two or three feet of linear space (or removing a urinal) would have made all the difference.
<Mike> LIVE BAND!!!
<Debi> Gave this a rating of 5 with the Band- They were awesome
<Rex> The bacon was perfect enough to make up for any problems I might have had with the food.
<ED> Overall, as with any place, there were some good and bad, but in the end…it’s all about hanging with friends and experiencing new things. The story regarding the Imperial Stouts being swapped will stick with me for some time, and I really liked the atmosphere. While small, the brewery meets current needs, and it holds a good spot behind the bar to view. The bar itself contains the basics of a pub, although I will add that I like the “Guest Tap” idea they currently have going. This way you can get alternative samplings from other breweries from Tap vs. a Bottle. Other than the Schlafly mistake, I sampled
- Pear Cider – The nose of this was sweet and inviting. Flashing me back to my youth, it smelled of Sweet Tarts (not your typical term) and Pears. (Very) Dry and refreshing, this in itself would make a great palette cleanser between beers. To bad we found it late in the session.
The hardest thing is rating this brewery…as CoMO also has Flatbranch, one of the best in the nation. This would be a struggle for any up and coming establishment, but I think Broadway is holding it’s own. If you go in with an open mind, I definitely think you would find something on the beer menu to satisfy you. Give them a few years, and they could be a contender.
<TommyG> Giving it an average score of 3.16 / 5. I can live with that. I enjoyed myself, and I plan to go to Broadway Brewery again in the near future.
<Mike> A reasonable variety for a small brewery, with a good supplemental selection from other small brewers.
<Debi> I rated the house beers a 2 (because they all tasted alike – like too much hops) and the Guest Tap 4 (A good variety of interesting beers).
<Rex> Overall I was very satisfied, my only real complaint is that they understandably can't maintain that large a selection of house beers. This problem could easily be remedied by using the slots available for a wider variety.
SCORECARD – I am still waiting on feedback from the others on their rating. I guess this is the number 1 lesson learned….collect scorecards on the day of the event. Check back later for their feedback as well.