There’s something almost magical to watching the tap list at Arabella Park Beer Bar.
Perhaps (as an once-English major) it’s in the names: twisty and alliterative and often tongue-in-cheek. I definitely chose West Avenue Cider‘s Bizarre Love Triangle (at left) for my first pint for its name, a little, but was quickly fascinated by its puckery, complex flavours. As a bittersweet, barrel-aged cider with spicy, smoky notes that reminded me of some of Almanac’s sour beers, its flavours might not be for everyone, but were delicious to linger over on a Friday night and watch the world move around us. It also pairs beautifully with some of the meatier tapas-style menu items, like the pork belly biscuit topped with a sumptuous fried egg and apple-spiked mustard.
Perhaps the allure also comes from the speed with which the tap list changes. Arabella Park has an airy feel, with cool-toned decor and high ceilings, but engages customers as soon as they step up for bar service with a knowledgeable, bustling service team – even at 5:30 PM on a Friday, Arabella was hopping with lots of regulars and folks like us who were curious about this new place in town. The vibe was trendy, but welcoming – conversations buzzed constantly around us as couples, groups, and even a few families stopped in for a pint and a bite.
We quickly befriended the guys at the end of our communal table, and shared thoughts on our respective pints, recommended the hearty Franch fries (with ranch sprinkles, hence the name), and turned with curiosity to the bright blue tiled wall each time a keg finished and a new name was written on the wall in its place. It happened six or seven times while we were there, which means that the tap list could be, and likely is, quite different at the beginning and end of each night. AP is active on Instagram, and will often post their tap lists, so if you’re looking for something in particular, check it out before heading over.
We’d speculate over what was heading out next – if an IPA disappeared, would there be another to take its place? – and marveled over the variety of beer available. Two taps of the eighteen seem dedicated to cider, and one tap (at least) is nitrogenized and was pouring Dieu de Ciel’s Grande Noirceur, a lush imperial stout with strong coffee and cocoa notes that was my second beer of choice.
Craft beer can feel intimidating to explore, but happily, the team at Arabella Park has sourced from a lot of Canadian breweries to ensure there’s something for everyone, from pilsners to kettle sours flavored with pear to heady imperial saisons. Flights aren’t advertised noticeably, but if you can’t decide on just one, it’s a good option for trying a few different beer or cider choices. I also saw that there are a couple of wine options available, and a further list of bottled beers available at the bar.
So, whether you’re a beer enthusiast or simply curious about trying something new, Arabella Park is a great addition to the Belmont Village area in Kitchener and worth checking out. Who knows – I might see you there!
Cheers, and happy 2017.