Friday, February 23, 2007

Update: Scary Van Dyck

As promised, we recently investigated the current state of the Van Dyck Jazz Club/BBQ/Brewpub. The results were rather disappointing, if not exactly shocking.

The snowflakes were falling fast and fat as we made our way down North Ferry and around the corner to Union Street and the warm and welcoming environs of our local brewpub. The warning that they had but one brew on tap, a very solid porter, had already been sounded. Still, a decent $2 porter a mere three minute hoof from home is a hard bargain to pass up, especially when journalistic integrity is on the line. The draft selection here has never been all that extensive in our experience, numbering not more than four or so, maybe five, if circumstances were particulary agreeable. It should be noted that it didn't help matters to read, in a free beeriodical thoughtfully provided by the house - a fashionably out of date Yankee Brew News from November/December - that upcoming additions to the tap lineup would include Massacre Amber, Union IPA, a doppelbock, Coal Porter, Stockade Stout, and a raspberry wheat. The brewer that was previously employed here, Mike Beauchea - a former homebrewer who produced a good enough product that he is now employed at Brown's Brewing in Troy - had a pretty nice stable of standard brews, but always seemed to be held back by the financial constraints of the place. That's not to say that the selection hasn't always been lacking. Here's a tip to aspiring brewpub proprietors: put a variety of beers on at all times. Sure, $2 happy hour beers are nice, but they only take you so far. It's ideal to have some seasonal fare, as well as something light, like a wheat or fruit beer, for the ladies. Last spring, for example, we quite enjoyed it when you had the stout, porter, dopple bock and triple bock available, but did that really appeal to the broader customer base? Perhaps not. It was nice though, that for St. Patrick's Day, you had Stockade Stout, Stockade Stout on nitro, Electric City Light (a favourite of the Hoff), and, what else? Umm...well, mayhap that was the problem. Or maybe it was merely a symptom of the greater disease. This place has been in trouble since it was supposedly saved in the late 1990's by a group that included current owner Peter Olsen. It is likeable enough, but incredibly inconsistent with both food and beer.

When we were there on Thursday, the owner was meeting with a dude in a plaid shirt and khakis. Brewing blueprints from 1996 were on a table near them. We took this as a good sign. Now comes word, albeit third hand, that the venerable jazz club is poised to go in a radically different direction. We're talking sushi bar. Lingerie sushi bar. Classy, of course, and located upstairs, but what the hell?. This does not mean that we won't be visiting again. That is not the case at all. It doesn't even mean that this is the end of brewing. Perhaps this is the dawn of a brave new era. No matter the outcome, rest assured that, as always, we will continue to be your source for breaking news on all fronts.

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