Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Feelin’ Good Again with Old School Beers and Burgers
Crystal Beer Parlor
301 West Jones St.
Crystal Beer Parlor is an important part of what makes Savannah one of America’s best cities.
You never know what you’ll bump into as you stroll through the spooky Spanish moss-draped squares and narrow side streets of the “Haunted City”.
There always seems to be some exciting hidden discovery around every cobblestone corner.
I’ve been exploring the historic district of Savannah for years and never even heard of the place until I happened to stumble into it on a side street somewhere between Pulaski and Chatham Squares.
And it’s not like Crystal Beer Parlor is some Johnny-come-lately joint recently opened by some relocated Yankee entrepreneur for the hoards of tourist masses.
The place has been serving beer and burgers since 1933 – and brags that it was one of the first bars in America to open after the repeal of Prohibition.
Back then, beers were a dime and burgers a quarter.
Crystal Beer Parlor lives up to its name – and proves that you don’t have to have 200 taps to qualify for outstanding beer selection.
The back wall behind the bar is lined with about 20 taps of exciting, unusual and hard to find fresh microbrewed beer.
For example, Sweetwater Brewing out of Atlanta has become fairly prevalent at bars with decent beer selection throughout the South. But it is almost always the 420 – a standard American pale ale.
Getting your hands on a frosty mug of Sweetwater’s much more interesting seasonal brews is like scoring a young hot female TSA agent to fondle you at security. I suppose it’s theoretically possible – but it never seems to happen.
That’s why I was so excited to see Sweetwater’s Festive Ale on Crystal’s beer list.
This is a beer drinker’s beer. Dark, strong and heavy, with just a touch of cinnamon, Festive Ale lives up to its name. At nearly 9% alcohol by volume, it is definitely a sipping beer.
Not for beer chugging contests.
Lighter in color and body than the Sweetwater, First Snowfall was like pumpkin pie in a glass, with nutmeg and cloves
And what self-respecting, patriotic beer-drinking Suit could resist a pint of Brew Free or Die IPA from California’s 21st Amendment Brewery?
I felt like I was striking a blow against the imperialist federal nanny state with every sip of this hoppy, powerful beer.
Fitting its retro-style ambiance, Crystal Beer Parlor even has a menu of “Beers of our Fathers – the Beer Your Dad Used to Love”, including Stroh’s, Rheingold and Genesee Cream Ale (a favorite of Suit757’s dad).
My crab stew to start was chock full of lumpy crab meat. A bit sweeter than most she-crab soups I’ve enjoyed, this version certainly didn’t skimp on the crab. I found the meat of an entire crab claw buried under all that creamy goodness!
Better yet was the bacon cheese burger.
Burgers are one of those food items that almost always taste better when you grill ‘em to your own liking. As Robert Earl Keen once said, “There is nothing like your own backyard.” (I have a theory that every experience in life can be derived from a REK song.)
But Crystal Beer Parlor’s burger was love at first sight.
Juicy, greasy deliciousness.
Always on the look-out for something different, I ordered “Ocilla Slaw” on the side.
Excited that no matter how many times I return to a fantastic city like Savannah there is always something new to discover. Even if that something “new” has been around since the dark days of prohibition.
Savannah and Crystal Beer Parlor are parts of what make being a Suit in Strange Places so much fun.
“The road goes on forever…and the party never ends.”
Rating: Bought the Shirt!