Monday, November 22, 2010

Bar 35

Every Wednesday, Bar 35 has its "House of Brews" beer tasting.  I just discovered this the other day when the Homebrewing Club I joined sent out an email regarding the weekly event.  From 6-8pm every Wednesday, the has a different beer tasting.  Also, 4-8pm Monday-Saturday is their happy hour.  For you martini lovers, they have $3 Skyy martinis during happy hour, which beats the prices at both Top of Waikiki and Indigo (both have $4 martinis for happy hour).  Keep in mind, though, that Bar 35 only has $3 vodka martinis, not gin.  Beer prices vary at Bar 35 normally, but range from $5.50 to $9 (for 12oz beers).  During happy hour, though, all beers on the menu without a price listed next to them are $4 (there are about 100 beers that are $4 during happy hour...some are still $9).  Bar 35 also has an in-house pizza shop operated by "Chef Valentini" (whoever the hell that is).

Bar 35 is truly a House of Brews.  It is different (not sure it's better) from Yardhouse in many ways.  First, it is in Chinatown, walking distance from the Supreme Court building, Kamehameha statute, and 'Iolani Palace.  The bar is located at 35 N. Hotel Street.  Second, Bar 35 has over 150 bottled beers from 21 different countries and lists their beers by country (as opposed to style).  Yardhouse, on the other hand, has 134 beers on tap and lists their beers according to style.  Third, Bar 35 has a normal happy hour (i.e. 6-8pm on weekdays) whereas Yardhouse has its happy when it knows no one will go (i.e. 10:30pm on weekdays).  Fourth, Bar 35 is closer to the definition of a dive bar.  It is dimly lit, has couches on the side that only the adventurous would sit on, a long bar with grungy (but nice) bartenders.  Yardhouse is much more like a chain restaurant.  The waiters and bartenders have a uniform, they are rigid about how much alcohol they are allowed to put in a shot, and it can get overly crowded and loud.  Bar 35 also has an outdoor patio, which is very nice.  Yardhouse does not have outdoor seating at all.

Back to the beer tasting.  Every Wednesday the bar does a different "theme."  Last night's theme was "Winter/Holiday Beers."  The deal is, you pay $20 and sample 8 different types of beer within their pre-determined theme for the night.  Each sample is 4oz.  Then you get a 9th ticket to re-try your favorite beer of the flight (another 4oz sample).  During the tasting, they also have a server come around with "gourmet pizza."  Don't get too excited about the pizza, though.  While it is absolutely delicious and amazing, the slices are thin crust, tiny pieces, and in 2 hours you might get 4-5 of them.  It is not as astounding as the bar tries to make it seem.  I'm not saying I need a whole pizza, but for $20 and only 36oz of beer, they should do better.

Here is my recommendation.  If you like trying new beer, definitely check it out during happy hour (or if you like martinis, then also check it out) and grab a seat outside.  It does not get very crowded during the week so you should be able to easily find a table.  It's a little too dark inside for my liking (and a little cold, actually).  If you're there on a Wednesday, don't bother with the beer tasting.  Here's why: You can find plenty of beers on the menu that you've never tried before for $4.  If you order 5 of them, it will cost you $20.  This is 60oz of beer for $20 (and no pizza).  If you do the beer tasting, you only try 3 additional beers, but far less quantity.  And there is not enough pizza to make up the difference (though, you should also definitely order one of the pizzas, they're delicious! I suggest either the "Sweet Bangkok" with Chinese Sausage, Sweet Chili Sauce, Cilantro, Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella Cheese or the "French Kiss" with French Brie Cheese, Cooked Ham, Fresh Pesto Sauce, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella Cheese and Fresh Basil.).  Now, you might be thinking, what if I don't like a beer, and I don't want to drink the whole thing, then with the beer tasting, I don't have to suffer through a full bottle.  Well, that's true.  However, if you're contemplating a beer tasting then my guess is you probably know what type of beer you like already.  So stick with what you like and you won't have that problem.  If you like wheat beers and hate IPAs, don't get a full bottle of IPA.

Overall, I think it's a cool bar with a decent atmosphere.  Certainly if you're a beer fan it's worth checking out.  The verdict is still out on whether it's better than Yardhouse, but I am dedicated to continuing my research.

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