Epic Beer Night Coming to Taphouse
Epic Beer Night Coming to Taphouse
By Jeff Maisey
Talk about an epic night for the most fanatical of craft beer enthusiasts: On January 13, the Taphouse Ghent will dig into its formidable private stash of Stone Brewing Company-produced Vertical Epic beers for a beer dinner like no other.
“To have this collection is a beer geek’s dream,” said Taphouse co-owner Peter Pittman. “The people who attend will be a very slim percentile of beer drinker. It’s a rare treat just for the beer alone.”
For $65 per person, Pittman will pair a multi-course food menu of bite-size morsels to match Stone’s Epic brews from 2004 through 2012.
Each year Stone has released a beer in this series on the corresponding dates. For example, 04-04-04 came out on April 4, 2004. The final Epic beer is the new 12-12-12.
The Taphouse Epic beer night will be limited to 30 people. They are selling tickets at the bar in advance. They expect a sell-out.
According to Pittman, principle Taphouse owner Leif Manley was keen on saving the 22-ounce bottles for this special occasion.
“It’s appropriately been stored with a ‘Do not open until 2013’ sign on it.”
The Taphouse does sell several of the Epic stock on a regular basis, though for a price: 2007 Citrus Ginger Saison ($24), 2008 Dry Pale Triple ($24), 2009 Artisan Chocolate ($24), and 2011 Golden with Anaheim Chilies and Cinnamon ($20).
For over 20 years the Taphouse Ghent has had one of the best selections of imported and American craft beers on tap. With the recent uptick in beer appreciation most bars and restaurants have greatly enhanced their beer selection – a trend the Taphouse long ago started.
“There are hundreds of beers you can choose from in the Ghent area restaurants,” said Pittman. “Other people try to keep up with us but I don’t think anyone matches what we do. We go out of our way when we have the opportunity to buy European beers…we try to buy it all. This is such a steady thing. People have been coming here since it first started in the early ‘90s. You have a cyclical crowd of regulars. It’s always changing. This was somebody’s college bar every two years and when they come back in town they return here. We’re probably the longest continuously operating beer bar in Norfolk.”
The Taphouse has always specialized in the Belgians and Trappist beers. These unique and varied brews appeal to a smaller market size by far and a lot of the beers are “big beers,” yet they are considered as a whole to be the world’s finest. The Taphouse serves their Belgians in 12-oz goblets. The current draft list includes the delectable Douchese ($8), a Flemish red blend of 8 and 18 month aged beer. Also on the list: St. Berardus Pater 6 ($8), Chimay Triple ($10) and the popular Hoegaarden ($5). The selection of Belgian bottles is extensive and features Delirium Tremens ($7), Rochefort 10 ($8), Corsendonk Dubbel and Triple ($8) and Orval ($8).
Pittman and friend Gordon Bradley spent much of the year rebuilding the display and arrangement of beer taps. They used reclaimed lumber and various furniture parts for a warm, European dark wood look and have expanded their number of taps to 47.
“When this place opened they might have had 15 taps,” Pittman noted, back when a dozen taps was a big deal. “When you look at the market now there are good beers all over town, and even in finer dining restaurants. Ten years ago people who paired food and beer were rare. Restaurants paired wine with food and neglected the craft beer element of their beverage program.”
Pittman also ensures there are plenty of local and regional beers available, especially for the growing trend of consuming food and beverages within 100 miles or so. The Taphouse features Virginia beer on Sundays from 4-9 PM with $2.50 pints.
“We try to keeps as many on as possible,” said Pittman. “Certainly St. George, Legend, O’Connor, Starr Hill, Alewerks, Blue Mountain, Smartmouth – I think people drink regionally. Don’t get me wrong, we probably sell more Bud Light in bottles than any other single bottles. We’re not snobby about beer. It’s enjoyed by everybody regardless of your taste.”
Another good deal on beer is found on Mondays from 4-7 PM when all draft beers priced $5 or less can be had for $2.50. That will get you a real deal on a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, New Belgium Snow Day, Bells Best Brown, Paulaner Hefewiesse, BreakenridgeRegal Pilsner, Brooklyn Brown Ale, Lagunitas Brown Shugga, Legend Brown, Founders Red Rye, or Peak Organic Brewing IPA.
Pittman said he’s been working to brand the Norfolk Ghent and downtown Hampton locations more consistently. He recently brought Hampton Chef Jason Selby over to tweak the Ghent menu.
Dear Santa, I sure would like to find a ticket for the Stone Brewing Company Epic Beer Dinner night at the Taphouse in Ghent in my stocking. Just saying…