Thursday, February 22, 2018
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Lift the fog at Angry Pepper Taphouse

Last week I succumbed to nagging from my girlfriend to get out of the house and "enjoy the nice weather." I stepped outside and it was indeed a beautiful day, with plenty of sunshine, a mild temperature, and a cool, ever-so-slight breeze. Just the kind of day that's perfect for sitting on a patio somewhere and enjoying a cold beer.

Our outing took us down Seminole Boulevard toward an inconspicuous strip mall bar formerly known as the Oakhurst Tavern. The current business, called the Angry Pepper Taphouse, is a barbecue and seafood restaurant — not the usual destination for a couple of vegans like ourselves — but the word was that it served 37 beers on tap, with a handful more in the bottle, so I had to check it out.

As we continued to drive, a dense fog visibly descended in front of us. This took a little bit of weight out of the "nice weather" argument, but we forged ahead, not knowing that the fog already had covered the entire bay area and wouldn't be letting up soon.

Upon arriving at the Angry Pepper, I noticed that the large, wooden patio deck out front was empty, a shame because it would have been the perfect spot for an afternoon beer on what had promised to be extremely agreeable weather just an hour earlier. Instead, we took refuge inside and grabbed a couple of seats at the bar.

If the large group of tap handles in front of us weren't enough of an indication of the Angry Pepper's focus on beer, the bar top itself was. And not just fancy craft beer, either; beneath the lacquered bar top were classic beer labels — Alpine, Old Tyme, Regal Select, Tube City — right next to modern, top-quality breweries like Bell's and Blue Point. Such even-handedness between working-class favorites (PBR is $1.50 all day, every day) and high-end craft beer from breweries such as Ballast Point, Sweetwater and St. Bernardus, is something that you don't see every day.

The Angry Pepper's Facebook page even includes a recent announcement about the arrival of Weihenstephaner Vitus, which was voted "Best Beer in the World" at the 2011 World Beer Awards (and "Best Wheat Beer" in 2012), noting that it also stocks PBR, which was named "America's Best" at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, and inviting people to come in and try their "award-winning beers." Well played.

As it turned out, the interior of the Angry Pepper Taphouse was very comfortable, serving as a relaxed escape from the ever-thickening fog outside. There are booths on one side, long tables with barstool seats in the center, and a two-part bar in the back, with one devoted to beer — about 30 of the beers on tap are served here — and the other specializing in wine and liquor.

Next to the beer bar is a small entertainment area with a Silver Strike Bowling console situated next to an iCade console that features more than 50 arcade classics. If video games aren't your thing but you need a little extra entertainment, you may want to stop by on Wednesdays at 7:30 for live trivia, which rewards the winners with a bar tab. On Fridays and Saturdays from 7-10 p.m., and occasionally on Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons, the Angry Pepper also hosts live music on the patio. The interior of the bar is also dotted with flatscreen TVs, so sports fans won't be missing out.

Overall, the Angry Pepper Taphouse is a something-for-everyone kind of place, and I don't mean that in a bad way. My beer nerd friends would like it just as much as friends of mine who couldn't tell you the difference between a Belgian Quad and a West Coast-style IPA, which I see as a great strength for a bar like this.

The fog never did lift during our visit to the Angry Pepper Taphouse though, so I'll have to take another trip when the weather is nice, and hope that no bizarre unforeseen weather changes occur.

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