What’s the difference between your average stout and Tap It IPA’s Full Blown Stout? I recently found out. The latter is super opaque dark brown with an over-the-top roasted malty, cocoa aroma. It also gave me incredible powers while playing life-sized Jenga at the SLO-based brewery. You could call it full-blown magic!
• Tap It Brewing Company's Full Blown Stout—About $6 for a pint; 675 Clarion Court, SLO.
I can hear you cocktail purists now. Why mess with a tried-and-true original? A well-made Old Fashioned is pretty hard to beat, but Mason Bar in Arroyo Grande found a way to up the ante further still. On a recent visit, their friendly mixologist served me a plentiful dose of house barrel-aged Four Roses Bourbon with maple simple syrup, soda water, fresh orange, and Amarena cherry. I have to say, the “maple” flavor was incredibly subtle, almost imperceptible. All in all, it was a classy, classic drink with a sly kick. Their famous lobster corn dogs? Not so subtle, but just as good.
• Mason Bar’s Barrel-Aged Maple Old Fashioned—$13 a cocktail; 307 E. Branch St., Arroyo Grande.
Hayley Thomas is never subtle. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.