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Taps: 40 / Bottles: 50
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 2 | Reviews: 1 | Show All Ratings:
4.05/5 rDev +60.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 2 | $$
Mid February, 2012
A breath of fresh air in the great north. Aside from the giddiness of there being a decent beer bar in Grand Forks, the place has good bones and room to improve. Lots of regulars, which is a good sign.
Decor is nice and clean. Good lighting, only a few tvs (not overly sports bar - but this is ND and hockey has to be on). Long social bar with a modest number of two tops and four tops. Kitchen is open to the bar which is good and bad. Fun to watch but even with the massive exhaust hood, you'll smell like food. Not sure if the building is new or repurposed, but it's quite small and at dinner it's full. I think they could double the size and make a killing.
The menu is burgers and fries (or homemade deep fried potato chips) only. While the burgers are very inexpensive and the toppings creative and tasty, they're cooked on a hot plate with big press. Blasphemy! I suppose this is done to cook quickly and limit food borne illness, but it's pretty lame. Makes me think the toppings are designed to enliven a boring patty killed by an industrial George Foreman. Better patty and production can be found a couple blocks away at 5 guys. Fries are supposedly hand cut, but they seemed like basic, decent shoestring type. They do various sauces and spices on the fries which is nice.
Ok, the beer. A really impressive variety from European, North American craft and regional beers. Beer list is broken down by basic type: Hoppy, Light, Dark and New Arrivals (although I could be missing one or two others). I'm certain there's nothing like this selection within 200 miles. Had selections from Rogue, Boulevard, Bells (Hopslam), Sierra Nevada (Torpedo), Deschutes, etc - plus the macros to soothe the locals. Bottles and cans as well, but I stayed with draft. Not to be overlooked is the glass washing prior to each pour. Extra credit for that!
Service (2 lady bartenders during my visit) was friendly and attentive although this is where they need to make some improvement. Pours are incredibly inconsistent. Two of the same tap can be poured and served to the same table - one with no head and one with 1 1/2" of head. North American 16 oz glasses have no head space. Most beers were short poured with 1" foam. Additionally, I saw a dirty glass observed during the pour which was subsequently poured into a new glass and topped off. Yuck (and more foam...). These shortcuts may be par for Applebee's but the beer is what this place is all about.
Aside from the burger and short pour issues (which shouldn't be underestimated in a burger and high end beer joint), it's a great addition to Grand Forks and I wish JL's much success. I'll be back.
02-17-2012 21:12:56 | More by burlyb
JL Beers in Grand Forks, ND
- out of 100 based on 2 ratings.