Parkway Tavern's "Day of IPAs" festival on Saturday was hopping -- 18 hops-heavy India Pale Ales poured to a capacity crowd.
But it wasn't the beer that most impressed me -- although Stone Ruination and Walking Man's Homo Erectus definitely impressed my palate.
Grilled bratwurst marinated in maple syrup (!) was the best 'wurst I've had all summer. I was dubious, but one bite convinced me: Marinated in warm maple syrup after grilling, my brat ($2.50, on a toasted bun) picked up a sweetness that bleneded nicely with sauerkraut and greasy grilled onions.
I was done sampling IPAs by that point in the day, so I can't say how the maple-marinated brat paired with Parkway's pours.
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But I can attest to this: Dogfish Head's 90-Minute Imperial IPA poured through The Randall wasn't the Extreme Hops Experience I expected.
(For the uninitiated -- or just plain sober -- The Randall is a water-purification gizmo through which the ultra-hoppy beer is filtered through fresh hops.)
At 9 percent alcohol by volume, the first sip of 90-Minute IPA nearly vaporized my tonsils. From then on, however, it was citrysy bliss: Cascade hops packed into The Randall gave the beer a lighter, sweeter, less fuel-like flavor.
Stone Ruination was smoky, dry and smooth. Homo Erectus stood up deep and sweet on boozy feet -- it's 10 percent alcohol by volume.
Six-ounce pours were a treat. I wish more pubs would pour something smaller than pints (and bigger than tasters) and not just for special occasions.