Food critics—both amateur and professional—dissect menus from new restaurants, and cocktail fanatics scrutinize every change made to a liquor list … so it’s only fair beer lists receive the same attention. With that in mind, Honest Pint scoped out the draft list, pricing, and barroom vibes at two of Boston’s most buzzed-about new restaurants: The Painted Burro in Davis Square and Sweet Cheeks Q in Fenway.
SWEET CHEEKS Q BEER GARDEN
The concept of a “beer garden” often suffers abuse at the hands of Boston bars and restaurants. Traditional German beer gardens, with Chestnut trees shading long wooden tables topped with sausages, and beer served in half-liter steins, are a holy thing. It would be sacrilege then, for a bar or restaurant to throw a few round plastic tables with umbrellas on a 9’ by 9’ patch of concrete and deem it a “beer garden.”
That’s why I was slightly wary to check out the new beer garden at Sweet Cheeks Q, Chef Tiffani Faison’s acclaimed Texas BBQ hotspot. Thankfully, my worries were for wont.
Though it might not hit every requirement for a beer garden, Sweet Cheeks has the soul of a beer garden: tall wooden tables enclosed by a fence and cups of beer served alone or alongside strips and heaps of smoky meat.
The bar is built from a woodshed, piles of wood stack up around the border and there are Berkshire Mountain barrels to put your beer on. Draft selection was decent: ‘Gansett Lager, Cisco Grey Lady, Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp, and 21st Amendment High Hell or Watermelon. The only downside was the wonky pricing of beers available inside ($6 for a Genesee Cream but $5 for Sierra Nevada?), but complaints were few for the beer garden. Should you get cold, they have a crate of fleece blankets. Should it rain, they have a retractable roof. It’s 21st century beer garden nirvana.
[1381 Boylston St., Boston. 617.266.1300. @sweetcheeksQ. sweetcheeks.com]
THE PAINTED BURRO
Starting from Sweet Cheeks, keep heading South in style, to Mexico, and across the river, to Somerville, and you’ll land at Davis Square’s The Painted Burro. It would be remiss to not mention the nearly 100 kinds of tequila they have available, and the refreshing margaritas and cocktails (Cola-Cola Con Pango, anyone?), but the beer list is none too shabby either.
Divided into Draft, Tin (Cans), Ballenas (Whales, or 22-ounce bombers), and Bottles, The Burro has more than 20 beers to sip while snacking on bar bites like Shishito Peppers with lime sea salt ($7) or Mexican Street Corn Cob ($6). There’s a strong showing of American craft, including Victory Prima Pils and Slumbrew’s blood orange Hefe Happy Sol on draft and canned offerings from Baxter and Oskar Blues.
What sets the Burro apart, however, is its selection of Mexican and Spanish beers that rarely make an appearance on Boston beer lists. Get a bomber of the cutely named Runaway IPA for a taste of how Mexico does hops or go dark with a La Migra Imperial Stout. There’s also a gluten-free option, the Estrella Damm Daura from Spain, named World’s Best Gluten-free Lager at the World Beer Awards in 2011.
[219 Elm St., Davis Square, Somerville. 617.776.0005. @ThePaintedBurro. thepaintedburro.com]