When I saw Jeff was tapping the latest of Stone’s series of devastatingly fresh double IPA‘s, I rounded up the Jay and Richard and made our way out there before I missed my chance. Why head all the way to Springfield for a Stone beer you ask? Well let’s face it, the Capital Region isn’t even a blip on the radar for Stone Brewing Company. We get screwed out of just about every single special release, collaboration, and well anything that doesn’t get nationwide distribution. Even something like the Vertical Epic 12.12.12 won’t see our shelves until some time in January, or about a month too late for anyone trying to do a VE tasting. All this while I can find Lukcy Basartd sitting on shelves in gas station in Waterbury. It’s frustrating to say the least. Thankfully, Springfield isn’t really that far away, and the beer was still flowing by the time we got there.
Devastatingly fresh was an understatement. Not just the taste of the beer, but also for the way Stone approached this IPA. Too often their D/IPAs are the equivalent of a pine cone raping the back of your throat. Not gently, either. I’m talking about you, Ruination 10th Anniversary. Stone is not known for “balance” in their beer, and this was probably the most balanced of their beers I’ve had in a long time (well, other than those that have sat in someone’s cellar for 5+ years that is). The hops are right there, front and center, with a little orange peel and citrus but they played nicely with the caramel malt notes. This is the first beer from Stone I’ve enjoyed in a while. I still have a bottle of this left (thanks Jon) that I plan on opening up with Fourteen Stone wherever we end up with the End of the World.
Of course there was no way we were going to drive an hour and a half away just for a single beer. I mean, we were at a “burger bar” for god’s sake. Of course we were going to get some chow and explore the rest of the tap list while we were there, too. Given that I was driving, I only had one other beer during the night. The Sierra Nevada Narwhal had just kicked, so the waitress brought over some Pro-Am Porter from Wormtown Brewery instead. This was a little on the sweet side for me but I thought it was absolutely fantastic. A great surprise for sure.
We followed up our second round of beers with a couple of appetizers before hitting the main course: wings (way too mild for my tastes) and some really killer bleu-cheese covered potato chips. The bleu cheese was very rich but when stacked up with the house made chips, tomatoes, bacon, red onion and jalaps it was amazing. Definitely get this with a few friends to share. I followed up the Blue Chips with a Blue Cheese Burger, which, in retrospect was probably too much blue cheese for one meal. Two things: as I said with the Blue Chips, the blue cheese was no joke and (unfortunately) really dominated the burger. You didn’t get much from the caramelized onion and BBQ sauce, nor the bacon I had added. It was all blue cheese. The other problem that I have, and I think this is a chain restaurant thing, which I did not realize Plan B was going into it, is that they really, really don’t like cooking burgers below medium. When the server took our order our options were “some pink” and “no pink”. Me? I like to chase my burger around my plate a bit before killing it, so even with “some pink” it was barely pink, let alone red and juicy the way I like it. Just something to think about before heading that way.
Just another little thing to add about Plan B: they have some pretty cool lighting through the whole place which really sets up the ambiance nicely. From the retro lights above the bar:
To the “EAT MEAT” neon sign I NEED to have in my kitchen:
And then there’s the cool lights with exposed wiring you can see below the sign which separate the bar area and the dining area.
Overall I liked Plan B. I don’t see it as a destination place, but for those of you who live by it’s definitely worth the trip, especially on a night when they have a special beer release. I don’t see myself going out of my way to head to Plan B unless there’s something going on like this 12.21.12 release as there’s still a lot I haven’t covered in MA yet (hello Moan and Dove??) but the tap list, extensive bourbon list, and menu should still be enough to keep an out of towner entertained.