Good Beer Hunting

no. 461


“You’re gonna need this.”

Reaching under the bar, our bartender pulls out the only condiment I can see in the entire brewery: a whopping six-and-a-half pound hand-pump container of French’s Spicy Brown Mustard.

When my friend Jamie orders a soft pretzel from the small list of snacks at Milwaukee’s Gathering Place Brewery, we don’t expect quite the triumphant arrival of the aforementioned sauce, but with its well-worn label and familiar residue, it seems like its seat at the end of the bar is a common sight. Flanked by industrial paper towels, this mustard is here for business.

Sure enough, a massive, paper-plate-sized pretzel arrives, accompanied by a second paper plate that’s “for mustard.”  Every three or so sips of beer paired with a couple bites of pretzel, the plate fills up again with spicy brown. Before long, it transforms the dipping plate into a smeared artist’s palette, the familiar hue of an old Fender Tweed amplifier.

And then, just like that, the pretzel is gone. Only the residue of flaky sea salt remains. Our beer glasses are empty, but the mustard—something just south of six-and-a-half pounds of it—stands tall. Our short-lived assault on its girth is barely noticeable. Soon, it returns under the bar from which it came.