Tuesday, December 08, 2009

BEERporting ~ The Ocean Grill

Being a Vero Beach native, there are certain establishments which have been around as long as I, 32 years so far, and longer. Many were a favorite local then as much as now, though for different reasons of interest and relaxation. All being said and done, treasured memories are just that, treasured memories.

The old adage of things only get better the older you get proves true of every experience that every day brings. For myself, at least, there is no benefit in constantly hiding in the past, and so I’ve never been one to wallow when there is so much to experience right here, right now. What will the next day bring? I can’t wait to see.

Enter The Ocean Grill.

A Vero Beach landmark of almost 70 years, I have a treasured scrapbook of eclectic memories tied to this classy yet down-to-earth local. From birthdays to business dinners to leisure, The Ocean Grill has covered all and more. She has weathered storms that left gaping holes in her floor to times that ranged from ridiculously profitable to just-getting-by. Through it all though, she has always been true to herself.

I am currently enjoying the best times in my life yet, and it’s only getting better. There is that moment in life when clarity strikes like a vision of light, clearing the cobwebs, dusting the rafters, and opening the doors of destiny to what opportunities lie in wait outside.

In beer as in life, I revel freely.

But does The Ocean Grill have beer in which I can revel freely? Against my best wishes and desires otherwise, not really. As of my most recent venture about a week ago, the draft and bottle selection left little to be desired. Thinking back over the years, their beer selection has changed little since I used to steal forbidden glances around the corners and over the bar at those fantastically fascinating tap handles and sparkling bottles of curious shapes, colors, and design.

Where I am now should come as no surprise considering my long-standing fascination with beer and spirits, but that’s a reflection for another time.

Finding myself in the mood for some Ocean Grill ambiance, I lazed my way to their bar, but not before spending a few taking in the mystically overcast ocean view. She’s not called The Ocean Grill for nothing, you know. Feet dangling comfortably from my corner stoop, ocean to my left and bar front-and-center, I set about ordering first a Makers Mark Old Fashioned (unfortunately muddled but still tasty) followed by a Johnny Walker Black Rob Roy. My wonderful bartender, Rosie, knows her cocktails, a fact made immediately evident when she correctly understood my request for a Johnny Walker Black Manhattan as, accurately speaking, a Rob Roy. Therein lays the problem with an ungodly majority of our fast-booze bars these days: no one can make a decent cocktail, much less know the names and differences between them.

No beer, you ask? No. Not when my choices are Guinness, Stella Artois, and Michelob Light on draft and, as far as I could tell, the only bottled option being Bud Light. A sorry state of affairs for a beer aficionado, indeed. Considering The Ocean Grill’s otherwise topnotch selection of affairs, the only dismal showing is in their beer selection.

I look towards life through the eyes of a beer geek, and rightfully so. It doesn’t mean that I am a one drink wonder though, as my passion for vintage spirits and classic cocktails will attest to. The more involved I become with beer and my other spirituous passions, the more I find their unfazed dedication and determination towards quality, flavor, diversity, craftsmanship, and ingenuity to be indubitably related. Now more than ever, at least in this current cycle of history, the thirst and discerning individuals are returning to these timeless standards.

For myself and millions the world over, beer encompasses this phenomenon like no other. I know that every time I walk into The Ocean Grill and leisure away the day at their bar overlooking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, life is good. Services received are always impeccable, my drinks spot-on, the food magnificent, and the memories as everlasting as they always have been, maybe even more so.

The only way it could be better is if I had the choice of a good beer; beer as deserving of its place at the bar as the wines, single-malts, specialty liquors, and top-shelf spirits. Instead, I get the same-old same-old I can get anywhere else. Goodness knows and I’ve looked within reasonable driving distance, nowhere else is there as friendly and knowledged a bar staff to be found in as cozy a place as The Ocean Grill, so why-oh-why must I get the short end of the beer stick.

As a class-act restaurant, local hangout bordering on lounge, vacationers paradise, it is neither wholly unrealistic nor unreasonable to expect, find, and receive at the very least one or two worthwhile beers. The Christmas time of year is especially cozy at The Ocean Grill with overflowing good cheer, lights, decorations, and stockings. Nothing would sooth my soul and ease my worries more than taking in the glittering lights of red, green, blue, pink, yellow, and orange as I sup languidly from my glass of Chimay Cenq Cents, or to be fair, a host of other equally deserving beers: Blanche de Bruxelles, Brooklyn Local 1 and Local 2, Brooklyn Brewmasters Reserve Series (I swoon just thinking about the food pairing possibilities), Duchess de Bourgogne, Bells Expedition, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Radeberger Pilsner, Reissdorf Kolsch (gotta give the golden and tasty some love), Dogfish Head 90 Minute, Ommegang Hennepin…

But unfortunately, I am left once again with a classic institution of my proud Vero Beach heritage that fulfills all my fantasies except the most important one: good beer. As always, I don’t expect a total upheaval; just one good beer, maybe two at a later date if I am to be so lucky. It really isn’t so much, and it is my right and duty to ask when faced with the most inexcusable of infractions: no choice in my beer.

There is an untapped market that The Ocean Grill (and others) is wholly missing out on, an insatiable passion that is a growing phenomenon awaiting its chance to blossom.

As I soak in the ambiance of holiday cheer and contagious good will, the only thing missing under my Christmas tree is good beer to savor and to share. I don’t know if the North Pole will answer this letter, but maybe, just maybe, my own little miracle will come to pass. Cheers to you, Ocean Grill. May our days continue to be merry and bright, and may we someday soon share newfound memories over a glass of fine brew.

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

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