Active Beers: 15
Beer Ratings: 258
Beer Avg: 3.91
Taps: 30 / Bottles:
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 150 | Reviews: 134 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by belgianjunkie:
3.04/5 rDev -29.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | $$
I hit Popago while visiting my brother in the Phoenix area. He knows I'm a Belgian beer fanatic and introduced me to their big fridge of Belgian goodness. The selection is excellent for an American bar; you find beers here that are virtually impossible to find at other bars (though beer stores do sell them on occasion). One impressive find is that they had Grottenbier on tap which I'd never seen outside of Belgium, and it's indeed better served from the tap than the bottle- a bit more mellowed and creamy.
I'll also give them props for carrying on the dying courtesy of not charging for the beer that blows the tap- my first Grottenbier was the last of the tap, and he handed it over for free. The second tasted far better, but the free one tasted just fine for the price. This part of the experience is why, despite some of the lower scores I've given, I'd recommend this bar.
However, they lose points for service because the new waitress had poured the entire contents of a Trappist Rochefort 8 into the glass, silt and all (a serious no-no). For my second bottled beer (a different dark, silt-laden brand), I asked her not to pour it all in, but as I was watching her at the bar, the owner- a very nice guy who knows his beer and should know better, told her to pour most of it, swirl the bottle, and then pour the rest in as though it were a Hoegaarden (again, serious no-no for dark beers with dregs). I motioned to her (alright- I was flailing around with a look of horror on my face) and asked her if I could just pour it myself, and that solved that.
Quality also gets lower marks, because the Trappist Achel I'd purchased was four months past its due date. I may be partially at fault for getting it out of the fridge and bringing it to them to serve me without checking the date first, but in the ideal setting they shouldn't be available for purchase if they've expired. And unlike some beers that age well, I soon discovered that Achel doesn't. They also don't serve the more exotic beers in their corresponding goblets which is forgivable, but you'd figure if Popago can get the beers to serve, they'd go the extra distance and get all of the proper glassware as well.
But, all of this aside, it's a good place. Not nearly as fancy as the beers in the fridge might suggest. It's a cool, spread-out, above-grade dive bar with laid back clientelle- mostly couples and twenty- to thirty-somethings. Good music, TVs, a couple of video games, and a decent sized bar. The Belgian beer selection is impressive: most Trappists (save Westvleteren which is easily understandable), and some really hard to find ones like Affligem's Noel ale, and others I'm hard-pressed to remember. A fine bar experience, and a much smoother one if you stick with middle of the road beers to avoid complex service issues.
Addendum on 9/07/05: BA member bigbelcher has pointed out that the "owner" I mentioned above would most likely not be the founder/main owner Ron. Though I'm sure the guy that night said he was an owner, from what I've heard about Ron, it wasn't him. And I gotta say it once more- all in all, it's a good place and I'll give it another shot the next time I'm in town- just not the best experience that first time around, and I had to call it as I saw it.
08-13-2005 14:22:55 | More by belgianjunkie
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