This is a guest post by PJ Bumstead
I guess I wouldn’t call Bob’s a hole-in-the-wall, it’s more like a hole-in-the-plaza, but hey, Bob’s calls themselves The Cultural Hub of the Midwest. Bob’s is located a stone’s throw from Graceland Shopping Center to the North, with the Morse Rd./N. High St. intersection just slightly to its south. Situated in a small plaza nestled between an insurance agency and a Subway-style pita joint, aptly named Pita Hut, Bob’s might be a little hard to find unless you’re really looking for it, but once you do, you’re in for a treat. Upon entering you’re greeted by a J-shaped bar running along the south (left) wall, a few high-top tables along the north (right) and east walls, and two pool tables in the far back. The bar itself can seat in the neighborhood of 20-25 patrons and the high-tops can handle four. Behind the bar is where the fun begins.
Bob’s has four tap towers with six beers apiece and another with three beers. Among these several taps you will find such breweries as Founders (MI), Stone (CO), Boulder (CO), Magic Hat (VT), and Great Lakes (OH), just to name a few. Their bottled selection is also quite good. Spanning three double-door coolers, Bob’s bottled selection includes the breweries already mentioned with quite a few others, and I hazard to say they have at least two to three different beers available from each brewery. While I was saddened to hear last time I was there that they had run out of the beer from my hometown brewery (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; NY), I was more than happy to try Shakespeare Stout by Rogue (OR) and Hennepin by Ommegang (NY). I enjoyed the Shakespeare even though it is a lighter stout in terms of ABV than I am accustomed to having (5.6%), I prefer to drink my stout and if necessary put a little in my car to last me about 3,000 miles. It had a good bitterness to it with a taste of coffee as well, which I like. In stark contrast, Hennepin, a nice Belgian from Ommegang, had the typical Belgian murkiness, started with a citrus taste, and finished with a buttery flavor. I enjoyed these two brews quite a bit, and at the same time I liked the fact I could discuss them with other patrons without having to shout.
Bob’s atmosphere is rather relaxed, but I dare you to go to a bar and not find at least one small, rowdy pocket of bar-goers. Bob’s jukebox (do we still call them that?) has an expansive music library that does not create much noise pollution, and the pool tables in the back make for a competitive, yet jovial, environment.
Bob’s staff, which can run from two to three bartenders, may take a minute or two to get to you, but once they do, you do not have to ask them twice for your beer or glass to go with it. I noticed them carrying on conversation when the situation allowed it, but most often they were wearing a path in the rubber put down on the floor tending to their customers. I will say one of the bartenders made me laugh when another customer dropped two glasses on the floor in the span of five minutes, and I saw him mouth “Dude, you gotta be kidding me.” As someone who toiled in the food service industry for four years, which was four years too many, I’m with you man.
I have but one complaint, and it is not one I think should keep any avid beer drinker from Bob’s. The glasses in which they serve their beers on draft, and provide with their bottled beers, are chilled. I personally prefer beer glasses at room temperature because they make for an easier pour and I don’t have to worry about the condensation on the glasses affecting my beer.
The Bob’s Bar World Tour
One of my favorite things about Bob’s, and the one they’re most known for, is their World Tour. The Tour has two levels, is free to join, and each participant gets his or her own laminated list of beers. The lists are kept by the bar staff and you can write whatever name you want on the list. The first list contains 88 beers, and completing the first list nets the devoted beer fan a Bob’s Bar T-Shirt. There are 44 beers on the second list and completing it earns you a 23-ounce Bob’s Bar mug engraved with your name and the message of your choosing, which you can fill up for life for the price of a pint.