The Pine Box draws all kinds—mustachioed beer geeks, clean-cut beer geeks, middle-aged beer geeks, lady beer geeks, and even woodsy beer geeks. The soaring space used to draw mostly corpses back when it housed the Butterworth Mortuary, but now the coldest thing here is the beer that emanates from 33 taps. But not too cold; this place is a temple to the finer points of craft beer service.
Malty Belgian stalwarts and IPAs from revered West Coast craft breweries come and go with such frequency that a plasma screen is required to keep up. This is also the only place in town with a built-in Randall tap, which sends beer through a special filter to add flavor—load it up with cocoa nibs to chocolate-ify an oatmeal stout or with hops to add sensory-befuddling depth to a pale ale. Drinking here should feel intimidating, given all this geekery, but you’ll experience not a whiff of condescension if all you want is a gin and tonic.
The bar opened last year with a perfectly serviceable roster of pizzas and small plates, but recently found an unlikely culinary guru in the form of Scott Carsberg, possessor of both a James Beard Award and some newfound free time after closing his restaurant Bisato.
At his original restaurant, Lampreia, Carsberg translated Italian flavors into stark visuals in the finest of fine-dining settings. At Bisato, the atmosphere loosened up, but plates were still minimalist art. Here—he embraces the pretzel. Housemade twists—delicate, golden, sublimely chewy—show up alongside Italian sausage or eggs and potato salad or as an unexpected partner for heavenly whole-milk burrata. Carsberg’s take on the humble chicken wing is baked and flavored with lemongrass or honey and hefeweizen mustards. Pizza crusts have better texture under his watch: Pies are lightly blistered in the wood oven and topped with combos like zucchini pesto and ricotta or salami, arugula, and a runny duck egg. The burger is now made with beef, veal, and pork, and diners are wild for it. Bar food seems an unlikely tangent, but Carsberg’s intensity toward food proves a good match for the Pine Box’s similar standards with beer. The proof is in the pretzel.
Bartender’s choice, which can mean Cee Lo, gangster rap, or Band of Horses
Chat up the staff; they’re uncannily talented at connecting the curious layperson with the right beer.
Most People Order
Something heavy on the hops
But They Should Be Drinking
Whatever’s pouring on the Randall…okay, that’s often something heavy on the hops.
Published: June 2013