Sitting at the bar of Haven Gastropub, 4PM on a Wednesday. I got out of jury duty early for the day. Nothing like a meth trial to make one crave a good beer or two. Haven prides itself with a dozen or so taps and a huge bottle selection of rare specialty beers. Years ago when they opened I did my first Yelp review and actually dinged them on their beer selection. It wasn’t necessarily ~bad~, it was just okay with options from Stone, New Belgium and a few others. They obviously took notice and branched out. Since that initial yelp review, I’ve been back around five times for food and drinks, each time I’m always delighted by the ambiance, service, and selection of fresh gourmet comfort food, and of course the beer selection, which has improved considerably.
The current beer selection seems to nail favorites of each style. For instance on the IPA style: one visit, they had Pliny the Elder, next time, Stone Ruination, next visit, Ballast Point Sculpin, my recent visit: Avery Majaraja. They don’t overlap the styles too much and balance it out so there’s something for whatever one might be in the mood for.
Going back to my recent visit, I sat at the bar alone and ordered an Omegang BPA served in a mid-stem tulip poured to the brim, around a pinkie of pale head. Two older ladies pull up stools next to me, sighing from a day of antique shopping. “I’d like a Corona”, “me too” says the other lady. They were in town from Texas and were shocked they didn’t have Corona. As they were getting up to leave for another place I tipped my hat up and said, “no problemo, Dixie Chix, this place has really good beer.” “Fancy Shmancy Beer” said the younger one with a gruff whiskey/smoker voice. I offered to order a couple flights and said I’d pay if they didn’t like them. They were delighted and and the bartender got a kick out it as well.
Haven offers a four-pour taster board with varying prices on them. Most are $2, some are upwards of $5. Considering the hot day and their preference of Mexican Lager, I ordered the Liefmans Cuvee Brut, Ballast Point Wahoo (Wheat), Omegang BPA, and a Deschuttes Black Butte. The older lady grabs the Liefmans, pops a swig and rolls her eyes while tilting her head. “WOW, this is beer?” The other lady with the thick Texas accent swishes it around her mouth a couple times and says, “holy shit I can drink this! Yee haw pardner!” then pulled out two pistols and began shooting into the ceiling. Okay I made that up, but they did freak out a little. If you ever get the chance to try the Cuvee Brut, do so. It’s a Cherry Belgium fruit beer coming in at 6%.
They both said “I don’t like dark beer at all”, so I made a point to add the Deschuttes Black Butte Porter. I instructed them to save this for last. A porter? on a hot day? I say yes. There’s something a porter does to me after a day of hard work. It seems to refill my soul and give me a second wind, even on a hot day.
As they worked their way through the BPA (weren’t crazy about) and the Wahoo Wheat (They loved) they arrived at the Black Butte. I ordered up a pint myself. “I hope it doesn’t taste like a black butt” said the older one. I immediately cracked back with, “you know what black butt tastes like?” ahaha, we were in tears. You had to be there I spose. I said “smell it, what does it smell like?”, “ooh, I smell chocolate”, “oh yes, definitely chocolate”. Upon tasting, they followed with “I taste some coffee and maybe a little vanilla”. I was shocked. Virgin tongues nailing it. We all clanked glasses, finished our beers and went on about our day. They actually paid for my beer as well as theirs which was nice.
As you can tell, this isn’t really a review of the place. It’s one of those places that simply gets it. Really good fresh gourmet comfort food, really good beers. Go there!
Located on the south side of old town Orange circle. (the Plaza for all you Orange jerks 🙂 havengastropub.com