Countless times I have zoomed by the little strip mall where BRU lives, on my way to the thrift stores dotting East Arapahoe Road here in Boulder, barely registering its presence, much less noticing the little gem at the west end of it. A couple of weeks ago, during a Google search for live music on my first Sunday off from work, I discovered BRU, “Handbuilt Ales and Eats,” which I had not previously heard of, being somewhat new to Boulder. I was delighted to find another happy hour in town, especially one with free entertainment, and I quickly arranged to meet a new friend/business associate there.
Considering its generic location, I was pleasantly surprised to find an inviting and warm, industrial chic atmosphere inside. It was obvious to me that this establishment was someone’s precious baby, because I immediately felt the love. From the antique ivory oven in the entrance, to the exposed brew tanks behind a rustic, sliding barn-style wooden door, and an open kitchen anchored with an impressive wood-burning pizza oven in its center, BRU steadily revealed itself to be much more than your typical brew spot.
Local musician Antonio Lopez was filling the place with melodious guitar strumming and vocals, and I settled into a two-top close by. Our server appeared shortly afterwards, and, although I am primarily a wine drinker, I do periodically enjoy a good beer, especially one that has been crafted in the place where I find myself (when in Rome…). I asked to taste a couple of the brews which interested me, and the server returned with what looked like a flight–five small samples on a rectangular wooden tray for me to try. What fun!! One of my favorite pastimes is to sip a selection of tastes side by side, and I was enchanted. And they were all delicious! I settled on the Beezel Belgian Style Golden Strong Ale, which was creamy and smooth, with alluring honey notes and a strong alcoholic kick (a very respectable 9.3%).
Shortly afterwards my new friend arrived, and we happily spent the next hour or two conversing over beer, cider and Cheddar & Corn Fritters with Charred Red Pepper Jelly, not exactly your typical pub fare. When I had quickly scanned the food menu online beforehand, I couldn’t help but notice the creativity in BRU’s dishes. I had already eaten an early dinner that Sunday, but I made a mental note to return soon and try some more of their culinary creations. That memory was ignited by the sudden appearance of a huge plate of super-crispy Southern Fried Chicken with Red Chile Honey, Pickled Collard Greens and Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread in the kitchen window. Definitely next time….
A couple of weeks later, when I returned for happy hour with my good friend and fellow foodie Katherine McGlinsky, we did not get the fried chicken dinner plate, since we were selecting choices from their happy hour menu (ah, well, anticipation!!!). But we did delight in their Rotating Charcuterie Board, with fermented onions, salmon rilette, thinly sliced Welsh cheddar, beer mustard, apple jam, candied pecans, toasted house-baked crusty sourdough bread, and a very clever, edible butter candle slowly melting in the center of it all. We also sampled their delicious, five-year aged sourdough-crusted pizza with kale, ale sausage and house-aged cheddar.
Our server, Justin, who also happened to be the general manager, patiently described what we were eating, and even wrote it all down for me to later record here. He informed me that the owner created this place with a focus on food, and that the wonderful beers, which certainly stand strongly on their own, are simply accompaniments to their culinary offerings. They even have their own five-year old sourdough culture, which they use for their rustic, delicious house-baked bread and pizza dough. It sounded like just the kind of joint I would create if I ever felt moved to open a restaurant. Naturally, I asked him about the fried chicken, and he said it is the best dish on their menus. Something to look forward to!!
Kat generously excused me to take photos of the place while she finished munching our treats and sipping on her Rowdy Girl Kombucha (one of BRU’s semi-non-alcoholic liquid offerings), so I swooped in on the kitchen area, where a young father holding his toddler was chatting with one of the cooks. It looked like a great photo opportunity. And it turned out that the father was the owner and founder of the place, Ian Clark.
I always respect people who follow their passion, and by doing so, create something that so many other people can enjoy–like BRU. I expressed my appreciation to Mr. Clark, and let him know that I would be writing about his fine establishment here in this blog, and that I will be returning for more of his delicious brews, and of course, for the fried chicken…
And that’s Love On The Table…