Friday, May 31, 2013

Prime 16 - Beer and Burgers

Last night was the opening of the Orange location of Prime 16 - tap house and burger bar. Opening nights are often pretty rough; as much for the staff  as for the patrons.   I'll admit there were a few hiccups in our service but, overall, it was good.  We were promptly greeted and seated.  Due to some technical difficulties our server was delayed.  However, from the moment Wolfgang arrived at our table he was eager, courteous and timely.  

Prime 16 has a great menu with some creative burger choices. As much as I love a good burger I was really there for the beer.  

Prime 16 has 30 craft beers on tap.  That's pretty extraordinary. But its the quality and diversity of the draft brews that really impressive. Obviously, I couldn't try them all. Thankfully, I had already had the pleasure of several of those on the list so I was able to narrow down my choices somewhat. There were still many interesting beers to choose from.

I shared a few with my husband and got samples of a couple others.  I wish I could have tried more but we all have our limits.  But I happily put a nice little dent in the beer menu.

Existent Black Saison (7.4% ABV) by Stillwater Artisanal Ales served in an 8-ounce wine goblet.  The appearance was black and dense as pitch with the remnants of a bright creamy head that left behind nice lacing on the glass. The aroma was interesting for a saison, roasty coffee with a whiff of wheat.  The flavor was equally intriguing.  A combination of coffee, tart citrus and wheat. It finishes dark roasty coffee.  Medium mouthfeel with nice carbonation. It sounds like it wouldn't work, but it does.  Think black IPA and farmhouse saison and you'll get a general idea.  Overall: very good!

Even More Jesus Russian Imperial Stout (12.00% ABV) by Evil Twin Brewing served in a scant 6-ounce snifter glass at a whopping $11 pricetag.  The manager explained that there were only 3 kegs of this brew in the state, so it's a rarity but still . . .  The appearance was black as black with the remains of a dense mocha colored head.  The booze is immediately detectable in the nose followed by espresso.  The taste is roasty coffee and dark chocolate with a brandy-like quality.  The finish is pleasantly bitter.  The mouthfeel is full and creamy with nice carbonation. The alcohol add a pleasant warming sensation. It's interesting to note that the beer gets sweeter as it rises to room temperature.  Take your time to experience the nuances this brew has to offer.  Overall: excellent.

Le Freak Belgian IPA (9.20% ABV) by Green Flash Brewing served in an 8-ounce wine goblet.  The appearance was a bright hazy gold with a skim of foam. The aroma is citrus and floral hops with a tease of wheat.  The taste is immediately bitter.  The hops are tempered by the sweetness of the malt and grains.  Very nicely balanced.  The finish is crisp and bitter.  The alcohol is very well disguised.  A tasty brew!  Overall: very good!

La Fin Du Monde Belgian Trippel (9.00% ABV) by Unibroue served as a sample.  The appearance was a cloudy lemon color with a trace of a head.  The aroma is a combination of fruit, wheat and spice with a definite booziness.  The taste is very much the same with a clear alcohol presence.  The finish is clean and warming. This is a bold but very drinkable brew.  Overall: excellent

Nuova Mattina Italian Saison (5.00% ABV) by Birrificio Del Ducato 
served in an 8-ounce wine goblet.  The appearance was a hazy honey gold with a fluffy white head.  The aroma is wheaty with a tease of citrus.  The taste is lemon and other citrus flavors with a solid wheat backbone.  There is also a hint of clove.  The finish is crisp and clean.  Overall: very good.

Big Eddy Wee Heavy Scotch Ale (9.50% ABV) by Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing served as a sample.  The appearance was a deep rich cherry with a fringe of foam around the edge of the glass.  The aroma as dark fruits, brown sugar, roasty grains and a hint of smoke.  The flavor is sweet malts, dark fruit and something off I couldn't quite put my finger on.  The is a clear alcohol presence that is both tasted and felt.  The finish is boozy.  Very brandy-like. Overall: very good.

Humboldt Brown Hemp Ale (5.70% ABV) by Firestone Walker Brewing 
served in an 16-ounce shaker pint glass.  The appearance was dark brown with cherry highlights with a bright white head.  The aroma is very mellow with hints of malt and must. The flavor was very light.  A little malty, a little bitter and something indecipherable (hemp?).  Really not all that interesting and lacking.  Overall:  meh

Black Cherry Hard Cider (5% ABV) by Mckenzie's Hard Cider served on the rocks in a tall pilsner glass. The aroma is very very black cherry.  The taste is the perfect combination of black cherry and hard apple cider.  This is a seriously tasty beverage!  The mouthfeel is light, cool and refreshing.  Exceptional drinkability.  This is a winner!! Overall: excellent.

I was duly impressed by the fact that each of the beers were served the perfect temperature for the style.  The stout was served on the warmer side while the IPA was chilled to perfection.  

Many of the pours were much smaller than I expected.  So, I questioned the manager about how they decided which glassware to select for each beer.  The size and style of the glass is determined by four factors: alcohol volume, style, availability and cost.

Understandable, however, I still think the pours were short in many cases.  And, I thought some of the prices were out of line for what was delivered.  That being said, the brews were varied and interesting.

I also enjoyed a burger.  I ordered the Stuffed Mushroom Burger with a side of Black and Tan Onion Rings.  The burger was cooked just right and was really yummy (could've been a might bit bigger).  The onion rings were crisp and tasty.

Prime 16 has a fantastic selection of beer, good food, pleasant atmosphere and friendly staff.  

I think given time and a little tweaking they'll be a great place for burgers and beer.

Give them a shot!

Update (6/1/13):  I received an e-mail from Bob Potter (owner of Prime 16) regarding my review of Even More Jesus Russian Imperial Stout.  He says that this is a 9.25 ounce brandy snifter with a 7-8 ounce pour.

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