Friday, July 5, 2013

Day 54 - Karben4


I have never been to the Karben4 craft brewery. Similar to my recent visit to the Ale Asylum, checking out Karben4 has been on my to-do list since I became aware of the business shortly after they opened. Despite all of the positive things I heard about the brewery, I never acted on this desire as a result of timing and a lack of motivation. Realizing I had probably procrastinated long enough on following through with a visit to Karben4, I decided to set aside time to stop by the location on my way out of town this evening.

My trip to Karben4 began immediately after the end of my workday today. After leaving my office, I drove to Karben4 on my way out of town to attend a bachelor party for my brother, Abe, at Green Lake this weekend. The brewery was easy enough to find given its location in the old Ale Asylum building on Madison’s eastside. Having been aware of the Ale Asylum’s old location for some time, I drove to where I remembered seeing the business in the past. Eventually, I noticed the bright green Karben4 sign from the road, prompting me to pull my car into the lot and make my way into the building. Walking through Karben4’s front doors, I thought about my workweek and the forthcoming celebration over the weekend. Realizing my time at the brewery was likely a brief period of calm sandwiched between two very different hectic states, I knew I needed to make the most of my visit to Karben4.

Inside the brewery bar
Upon entering the building I took a seat at the bar and was immediately greeted by a bartender. I glanced quickly at the list of beers displayed on a wall behind the bar before settling on an amber ale called Block Party. As the bartender poured my drink I took time to get acquainted with my surroundings. The bar was quiet on a late Friday afternoon, with small groups of people scattered throughout its modern interior. I listened to the sound of murmured conversations as I looked at the bar’s balance between bright green, metallic fixtures, and gray backdrops accented by pieces of modern art. The interior surprised me with its falshes of color, but it still provided a relaxing environment in which I could enjoy a drink. Turning back to bar I was greeted by a tall glass of golden brown beer being placed in front of me. Without hesitation, I lifted the glass and took my first drink of Karben4 beer.

Block Party
With my first drink I was pleased by the full flavor and smooth texture of the beer. The balance of the two provided a perfect accompaniment to my state of relaxation and gave me more than enough reason to stay at the brewery a while longer. Soaking the moment, I slowly sipped my beer and took in the activity around me. I watched as people deliberated over beer choices, as food orders traded hands, and as the time slowly slipped toward evening. Feeling the lift of a quiet segment of an otherwise busy life, I smiled to myself as I worked through the last portion of the drink before me.

Shortly after completing my drink, the bartender approached me an offered to pour another. I declined in favor of a glass of water and proceeded to pull a beer list from a holder in front of me. As the bartender returned with my glass of water, I talked to him briefly about the Karben4 brewing schedule, future plans, and upcoming bottling efforts. He gladly discussed all of the brewery's forthcoming ventures and successes with me as he moved back and forth across the space behind the bar, working through a steady stream of orders coming his way. Noticing my glass of water was nearly empty, the bartender confirmed my lack of previous experience with Karben4 beers and offered me a beer flight of the brewery’s offerings. With intention to make the most of my experience, I took the bartender up on his offer, which set him into motion pouring small glasses of beer that covered a wide array of Karben4 beers. Moments later, he returned with a line of beers that covered the spectrum of beer types. He walked me through the order of the beers and explained to me how the brews would affect one another. Providing direction on the order for drinking the beers, he explained the choices would provide a full Karben4 experience, which suited my desire to have a full experience.

Beer flight
Over the next 30 minutes I slowly consumed the beers before me. I drank down the sample of the Fantasy Factory IPA first, which is debatably the best IPA I have tasted in my life. I proceeded to the Night Call Smoked Porter, which provided a full roasted flavor. Moving on, I sample the SamuRye Pale Ale and the Lady Luck Irish Red. Each beer provided its own unique flavors that could easily stand as a signature brew at any lesser brewery in the United States. They were simply that good. Eventually, I wrapped up my flight, gave my compliments to the bartender, and closed out my tab for the drinks I had ordered. I was surprised to find the total bill also came in well below what I had expected for the drinks I ordered. I had good beer at a good price, and I welcomed both.

After closing out my tab I headed back out to my car and began my drive north. With my car windows down, I let the balmy summer air roll around me as I tacked on miles and recalled my first, brief experience at Karben4. The visit proved the perfect way to start the weekend. Additionally, the experience exposed me to an amazing new craft brewery that is doing more than enough to maintain the legacy of quality brewing at Ale Asylum’s old stomping grounds. My only regret from the day’s experience is not having enough time at Karben4. That stated, I’m sure I’ll fix that with my inevitable return to this noteworthy craft brewery. I just have to make sure I make that happen sooner than later.

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