The Session #46: An Unexpected Discovery

The Session is a monthly collaboration of beer bloggers that share their views on a common theme. This month Burgers and Brews is hosting the topic "An Unexpected Discovery," finding craft beer in the last place you were looking for it. I've asked people to share a place where they've accidentally stumbled upon a new or interesting beer, or share an experience where they've been surprised by a new brewery or beer style.

As a self admitted beer-geek I seek every opportunity I can to find new beers. While traveling I make it a point to research, look up reviews online, and map out the closest beer bar, brewpub, or bottle shop. Some might call this anal. I call it being thorough. But more often than not, it’s the unintended beer discovery that gives me the most thrill. It might be a run down dive, a yuppie bar, a backcountry gas station, or a sketchy bodega, but when I find good craft beer in places like this, completely unlooked for, it’s more rewarding than all those planned brewery visits.

While traveling to Colorado recently I endeavored to experience as much of the beer scene on the way as possible, culminating of course in Denver, a beer haven if there ever was one (there’s a reason the Great American Beer Festival is held there every year). I was a bit worried though, because there were a lot of states between Connecticut and Colorado that aren’t exactly on the cutting edge of beer. My prejudice led me to be lax in my research, so as we were passing through Columbus, Ohio I wasn’t expecting to find anything interesting. I love being wrong.

In search of lunch and a cold beer we parked in the first space we could find on the street in Columbus. We noticed a little shop across the way that apparently was a hot dog joint. It didn’t look like much, and with a name like Dirty Frank’s it didn’t instill confidence. We shuffled into the place and were surprised to see a full sized bar running the length of the small shop. On tap were at least eight different beers, ranging from New Belgium’s Ranger IPA to the local Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold. The bottle list was small, but included Delirium Tremens and something I haven’t seen before, O’Fallon Brewing Hemp Hop Rye, an amber ale made with hemp seeds. It just so happened that it was also the $3 bottle special of the day. I ordered three.

While I can’t say it was a religious experience, the beer was very drinkable and was precisely the cure for the hot summer weather. Combined with a specialty hot dog menu that was over thirty items long, all of which were $3 to $4, we were in heaven. At this point we were behind schedule, we needed to get back on the road in order to make it to the next destination in time. However the cool air conditioning, the good cheap food, and a very respectable taplist lulled us into a sense of relaxation and comfort. Yeah we wouldn’t be getting into our destination until 1am, so what? We were having fun, and we had discovered a little beer spot that as far as we knew, was completely off the map.

While the other beer destinations we went to on that trip might have had better beer, it was this random and completely unplanned stop in Columbus, Ohio that sticks in my mind. A ton of people know about the Falling Rock in Denver. How many people know about Dirty Frank’s?

Tell us about a beer experience that took you by surprise. Post a link to your blog in the comments section below, and I'll consolidate them all into an easy to read separate post. I'm very excited to see everyone's response!


Sean - Beer Search Party said...

Thanks for hosting this session!

Here is my contribution:

Mario (Brewed for Thought) said...

Here ya go!

Alan said...

Here is my entry:

JayZeis said...

Thanks for hosting!

Derrick Peterman said...

As a graduate of THE Ohio State University (we're kind of anal about the "THE" part), Dirty Franks must of opened after I left Columbus in '96. Too bad, looks like a gret place to hang out.

Thomas said...

My contribution