Friday, September 21, 2018
Bars & Spirits

Bar review: Pour yourself some of Oak & Stone’s impressive beer selection

Beer and pizza: It writes itself, right?

Sure, but the current generation of pizza-and-beer establishments are aiming higher than yesterday’s counterparts, making the setup a little more elaborate and, ideally, a lot more interesting.

Oak & Stone is the latest local installation of this sort, bringing a punched-up menu — shout out to the Beyond Burger fans — and a massively upgraded drink program to the table. Gone are nostalgic red cups; in their place, beer tulips and cocktail glasses.

With an interior of about 6,000 square feet (that doesn’t include the spacious outdoor seating area), Oak & Stone is going for the giant barn look, with two-story ceilings, liberal use of unfinished wood, Edison bulbs attached to large wooden fixtures and an abundance of oak barrels for decoration. While the size of the interior is substantial, the division of seating areas throughout the restaurant gives the impression of a smaller space.

The primary room divider is a long tap wall that serves as a pour-your-own beer station. You may have heard something about the beer selection at Oak & Stone. It’s very good by beer bar standards, and absolutely outstanding for a place that’s ostensibly a restaurant first. There are a staggering 58 beers on tap, including a hefty number of Florida brews joined by some interesting out-of-town options.

After giving your ID to a server, you’ll be presented with a wristband that you can hold up to touchscreens accompanying each tap and start pouring. Pick your glassware, pick your beer, pick your volume — beers are priced by the ounce, and the wristband keeps track of your tab all the way up to 40 ounces, at which point you’ll have to soberly convince the server to reload it for you.

The major benefit here is that you get to drink as little or as much as you want of any particular beer, and you can try several without being restricted to the flight format. I treat it like I would a bottle share: Go for small pours of various beers, and circle back around for bigger pours of the ones that really stand out to me.

It’s a great way to try a bunch of stuff without punishing your wallet or liver too harshly.

Pour-your-own prices tend to run high, but the per-ounce pricing at
Oak & Stone adds up to something resembling a normal beer price in most cases. There are some quirks, like a local brown ale priced at about double what you’ll find at other bars, but it goes the other way, too: Some beers that would normally cost $8 for a snifter end up being that price for a pint. Look closely and you may find some surprising deals.

One major downside is the congestion around the beer wall. It’s already a little tight on the path from the entrance to the small bar in the back, but when you have a dozen people mulling around sampling splashes of beer, it can get crowded.

The other major part of the bar program is Oak & Stone’s Liquid Library, a collection of 12 house cocktails printed on the menu with fun, graphic logos. The drinks aren’t Earth-shattering, but there are a few thoughtful touches that make them feel special.

Examples: A dash of cracked pepper atop a Hendrick’s Collins (Last Word); orange marmalade with Bulleit Rye and orange curaçao (Jam You); mango puree in an Appleton Estate dark rum punch (Livin’ la Vida Oak); and fresh pineapple in a Ketel One Moscow Mule (Hospitality Mule).

We’ve talked about pizza and beer, but how about pizza and bourbon? Oak & Stone stocks a surprising selection of whiskeys, primarily of the bourbon and American whiskey variety. There are roughly two dozen to choose from, which is a lot, but good news: They are available as flights. You can pick four for $25. Sorry, no self-pours.

Even if pizza (and more) weren’t in the mix, Oak & Stone would be a heck of a new watering hole for downtown St. Pete.

Throw in an eclectic menu with something for everyone, and you’ve got a real one-stop shop.

Contact Justin Grant at [email protected] Follow @WordsWithJG.

Comments
Franklin on Twiggs restaurant opens in former downtown Tampa Pita Pit location

Franklin on Twiggs restaurant opens in former downtown Tampa Pita Pit location

DOWNTOWN — After a falling out with the Pita Pit corporate offices, Andrew Turek, the former owner of the SoHo location sold the property to Shula Burger and decided to open a new eatery and market called Franklin on Twiggs in the former downt...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bar review: Punk meets Pilsner at Antibrewery in Dunedin

Bar review: Punk meets Pilsner at Antibrewery in Dunedin

I’ve had readers jokingly complain that I’ve exposed their off-the-radar watering holes that already are a carful away from becoming overcrowded. It’s like watching your favorite indie band achieve mainstream success: It’s good for them, but now you’...
Published: 09/20/18
Five ideas for date-night dinners at home

Five ideas for date-night dinners at home

For your next date night with your significant other, try staying in and cooking together. Meals eaten with your loved one are always sweeter. Literally."When we are in love … food tastes better," said Rachel Herz, an adjunct professor of psychiatry ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
New restaurants: Olivia from Chris Ponte, Crabby Bill’s Off the Hook

New restaurants: Olivia from Chris Ponte, Crabby Bill’s Off the Hook

COMING SOON: OLIVIA Chris Ponte, right, has been a steady and notable culinary leader in our area for more than a decade with his flagship restaurant Cafe Ponte in Clearwater. A couple of years ago he mixed things up a bit by debuting On Swann in Hy...
Published: 09/19/18
Swizzle it: The tool bartenders turn to for a certain kind of cocktail

Swizzle it: The tool bartenders turn to for a certain kind of cocktail

TAMPA It’s a long stick with an irregular claw at the end, something a little macabre, like a skeletal monkey arm or a ritual tool made out of a chicken foot. It is crafted from the wood of the Quararibea turbinata tree, an aromatic and perenn...
Published: 09/19/18
What’s that bug gunk on your car? There’s an app for that

What’s that bug gunk on your car? There’s an app for that

Florida is rich in biomass. It’s got a lot of bugs. You’re driving down the highway, and all of a sudden — splat — a bug smacks your windshield, leaving a gooey glob on the glass. That’s the end of it from the bug’...
Published: 09/18/18
Pumpkin spice haters, back off: It’s okay to crave the seasonal flavor

Pumpkin spice haters, back off: It’s okay to crave the seasonal flavor

All right, okay, enough, I get it: You all hate pumpkin spice. But I’ve got one request as we head into fall: Can you just let us have this? There are many things on which to heap anger and despair right now, but please, that thing does not n...
Published: 09/18/18
A brown rice salad with asparagus that’s a hearty side dish

A brown rice salad with asparagus that’s a hearty side dish

This fresh, hearty side dish will stand out among its richer, creamier counterparts when the holidays roll around. We achieved perfectly cooked brown rice by boiling it in abundant water. Sprinkling the rice with bright lemon juice while it was still...
Published: 09/18/18
Restaurant review: The Local doesn't stand out enough above its Tampa neighbors to make an impact

Restaurant review: The Local doesn't stand out enough above its Tampa neighbors to make an impact

TAMPA Do you have this debate? "Florida is not in the South." "Um, look at a map." I guess I am in the former camp: It seems Florida gets more Southern the more north and west you go, accents only creeping in as reliably as boiled peanuts up on the ...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/18/18
Tampa Bay chefs get fresh platform at Bucs home games

Tampa Bay chefs get fresh platform at Bucs home games

TAMPA — It was almost like a sitcom spit take. People in Buccaneers-red and Eagles-midnight green would walk up to the makeshift kitchen in the West Stadium Club, look at the huge poster of chef/restaurateur John Rivers, then glance at the guy in the...
Published: 09/17/18