Brick House Tavern and Tap
1451 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale
Call 954-537-5344, or visit here
The age of the Beer Snob has dawned on South Florida. Finally! Plastic liquor cups have been tossed to the wayside in favor of a tall, chilled glass full of frothy, foamy, thick, and delicious beer. And the newest beer-specializing chain to grace our beloved spit of land? Brick House Tavern and Tap, where heady beers are best coming straight out of a full-size, 100-ounce beer bong. Chug, chug, chug, chug....
"We have over 75 beers -- 16 on tap, and 9 ways to serve it," chirped Hayley as she propelled us on a tour around the Brick House, past a wall labeled "The Man Cave"; past several rows of tables with couches instead of chairs; past a jam-packed indoor/outdoor bar. Overhead, suspended TVs played the Miami Heat game, which was kind of funny, because this very building was once home to Dwyane Wade's restaurant, D Wade's. Hayley paused in the far left corner of the room, just outside a small partitioned-off area labeled "Rec Room" that was populated with flat screen TVs and plush recliners.
"People bought tickets for seats in there during the Super Bowl - we sold out," Hayley said brightly. She was clad in jean shorts and a black shirt, much like the other dozen-odd members of the seemingly all-21-years-old-and-female staff. Each had a sliver of midriff and slice of cleavage visible. The girls were all different shapes and sizes - some bean-pole skinny; some with junk in the trunk (but never too much); some barely legal-looking; some surgically enhanced like whoa.
"I'm Rae, R-A-E, like a ray of sunshine," said Rae, our buxom, bleach-blond waitress. We were seated near the words "The Man Cave" and surrounded by walls painted with quotes like "Failure is the mother of success," "The future ain't what it used to be," and, the profound and succinct, "Bourbon."
"We have over 75 beers, 16 on tap, and 9 ways to serve it," Rae parroted.
"Haley told us." I said. Hayley had disappeared, but fortunately the girls at the Tavern are pretty interchangeable.
"What are the 9 ways?" my friend Beard asked, glancing at the booze menu, which boasted everything from drafts, imports, and local brews (including Key West Sunset Ale) to unique imports (like Trappist Ale), and even the stuff generally sold in tall-boy form from your local gas station (Labatt Blue, anyone?).
Rae, seated comfortably with us at our table, paused to think.
"You can get it in Sissy size, which is a pint; Man-Size, 20 ounces; a half-beer bong, 50 ounces; or a full size beer bong, 100 ounces-" Rae counted on her fingers.
"A hundred ounces? That's like eight beers!" Beard exclaimed, clearly trying to impress Rae's cleavage with his mental math. I rolled my eyes.
"Or get it in a bottle, a can, a microkeg, or a tallboy - which we serve chilled, like wine," Rae continued.
"Classy," I nodded in approval.
"And, of course, we have our beer engine, which we use to hand-pump local brews from a wooden cask." She looked triumphant.
"I'll take a Shiner, in the pussy-size meant for little women," I said sarcastically.
"Are you sure?" said Beard in practical tones. "Man-size isn't that much more expensive..."
"Man up!" commanded Rae.
Rae brought me my man-size Shiner and Beard his man-size Magic Hat #9 and left us to our own devices. The 3 Doors Down song "Kryptonite" filled the air, and a few women by the bar began dancing. By the door, some of the waitresses were engaging in (what I think was) a pretend slap-fight. Behind us, a sweet-looking family ordered a beer bong, and Rae carefully brought it over to their table and filled their glasses from the spigot. The magnificent glass tube stood maybe three feet from the table, and Mom, Dad, and Granny all pleasantly sipped on their golden wheat brew while engaging in small talk with Son and Son's Girlfriend. It was perhaps the most wholesome context in which I've ever seen a beer bong.
"In college, I did a two-story bong," Beard bragged.
I applauded him, and then deicided to get up and take a look-see around. I pushed through the crowd at the bar and blazed a trail outside to the patio. A group of rowdy young drinkers were posing for enthusiastic photos around their freshly filled beer bong. Nearby stood a raven-haired beauty smoking a cigarette. Her name was Jennifer; her eyes were light blue and well-lined.
"What's up?" I asked. "Um, I mean, besides watching those people grope that beer bong."
"People love their beer bongs," Jennifer said, gesturing around. True, most of the patio tables were occupied by the towering glass tubes. Big rowdy groups, old folks, and one intimately conversing couple all seemed to be enjoying them.
"I'm surprised this place is so busy," she continued. "I work at Maracas, just up the road, and we get a good crowd - but rarely like this."
"I've been to Maracas," I said. "It's like an explosion of flamboyance, right?"
Jennifer smiled. "Sometimes guys will come in and shudder, or look like they're about to have a seizure. We're not technically a gay bar, either; we just like our bright, Mexican-style décor."
"Honestly, I'd take bright colors at Maracas and a real waitress like you over the pre-programmed fembots here," I said.
"The waitresses here do seem a little forced, right?" Jennifer concurred. "But, I've heard there's a very difficult personality test they have to pass to get a job here."
I wasn't sure whether to believe that. I remembered that our food was probably ready, and was back inside in a jiffy. Beard was tasting Brick House's brisket burgers, which was, in our opinion, not good. (Thank goodness for their 75 beers, 16 on tap, and 9 ways to serve 'em.)
Rae paused near our table and bestowed upon us her well-perfected smile. She was a dazzling creature, it's true; for all her forced familiarity, I couldn't help but love her a little.
"How's the beer?" she asked. "Cold enough?"
"The beer is perfect," I said truthfully, sipping my Shiner.
Behind us, two blond girls were simultaneously kissing the same guy.
"So, are you in university?" I asked Rae.
She nodded. "For psychology."
"Are you analyzing us?"
She narrowed her eyes. "You'll never know."
"Speaking of analyzing -- what I want to know is about the personality test you took to get a job here," I said.
"Oh, it was intense," said Rae. "For the final interview, we had to come in full uniform and pretend to wait on the guy who would be our manager. It was nerve-wracking! We had to come with all kinds of stuff to talk about, and he was giving one-word answers..."
"Finally, do you know what saved me?" she paused for dramatic suspense. "Dog the Bounty Hunter."
"What?" Beard and I asked in unison.
"Yup. He'd mentioned something about Hawaii, and I took that and ran with it. Dog the Bounty Hunter just popped into my head, and I started talking about him," she said. "The manager laughed, and it got me the job."
The truth about Brick House? It achieves what it set out to do - become a commercially functioning man-cave, full of beer, "guy" food, and beautiful, pliable young women. Though it certainly ain't going to become my usual stomping ground, it's worth a trip for this and this alone: They. Have. Beer bongs.