For 2 weeks until May 25th, the bustling Library Ale House on Main St. in Santa Monica is celebrating the Belgian Beer Fest with 8 Rotating Taps, $15 Chimay glasses, and $5 refills. Tonight, May 19th, from 5-7pm there's a Trappistenbier Tasting of holy beers like Chimay, Orval & Rochefort – Presale Tickets are $15, or $20 at the Door. And Sunday May 23rd from 5-6pm is Mikkeller's Single Hop IPA Series Tasting – Tickets are $25 & only 20 spots are available.
- sweet caramel, fruity, mahogany colored Maredsous 8 Brune Abbey Dubbel (Belgium) 8% ABV
- buttery, honey colored, smooth 'n sweet Urthel Hop-It Superior Hoppy Blonde Ale (Belgium) 9.5% ABV
- femme favorite, cloudy amber, subtle citrus with cinnamon bite Goose Island Matilda Belgian-style Pale Ale (Illinois, Chicago) 7% ABV
I kinda have a little crush on Belgian beers. The flavors seem so complex and always surprising. So when I heard that the Library Ale House was rotating 8 different taps for 2 weeks, I couldn't resist. When I walked in, the bartender (pictured) was super attentive, always ready to help me, and knew my name. I told him I like nutty, fruity flavors like Unibroue Maudite & Trois Pistoles (my review here), so he recommended Maredsous 8 Brune. It has a rich dark amber brown color, malty fig mince pie flavor, yet tastes lighter than it looks.
The 2nd beer I tried was the Urthel Hop-It Superior Blonde Ale. It's super drinkable, has a beautiful honey color, and every sip is smooth and buttery. It has nice carbonation with mild hoppiness, almost like a creamy thicker lager. And a sweet nutmeg nose with mild scents of citrus & herbs. As you can see, the flavor complexity of this one is unreal, for each sip presented something new.
The 3rd beer I tried was a Belgian-style Pale Ale from Chicago called Goose Island Matilda. The tap had a silver & black goose head (pictured) and the beer was definitely a favorite amongst the ladies. It has a cloudy amber color with a light citrus flavor. It's bland, but sweet with a honey nose, and has a cinnamon bite finish from the carbonation, like a soda.The Grubdown:
- you'll definitely want to split the Carne Asada Plate with warm Corn Tortillas, Black Beans, Mexican Rice, Sour Cream & Guacamole
- sweet, refreshing Papaya Goat Cheese Quesadilla with Roasted Poblano Chiles, Jack & Cheddar Cheese
- Trio of Mini Beef Sliders
- not too sweet or salty Alehouse Sweet Potato Fries with Ketchup
I was definitely surprised to find that the food at the Library Ale House had strong California & Mexican influences – complimentary Chips 'n Salsa are served as soon as you sit down. So we decided to keep with the theme and ordered the Carne Asada Plate. This size of the platter is impressive – and after drinking 3 pints of extremely filling Belgian beer, we probably could've split it between 3 or 4 people. The Meat is definitely flavorful, but a little tough. The Rice is tender with good tomato flavor. I love that it comes with Black Beans instead of pinto, and the tasty Guacamole is a major selling point – it also comes with 5 warm Corn Tortillas to build your own taco.
The Papaya Goat Cheese Quesadilla is very light and fresh, yet big enough to make one person feel full with 4 pieces. And the Roasted Poblano Chiles inside gives it a smoky flavor.
The Sweet Potato Fries are good, not too salty or sweet, but I was really hoping for some creamy aioli to be served alongside the Ketchup.
I did not get a chance to taste the Sliders, but you should know that the Library serves Kobe Beef as well as lean Grass-fed Linder Bison Burgers.
Belgian beers or not, the Library Ale House is a fine place to show 'em your card and check out some pints. Just ask their Beer Guru for some suggestions.
Follow @libraryalehouse for Belgian Beer Fest updates & events.