Food: 3 stars
Service: 3 stars
Ambience: 2 1/2 stars
Address: 1600 38th St., Boulder
Contact: 303-449-FATE (3283), fatebrewingcompany.com
Hours: Lunch, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; happy hour, 3:30-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; dinner, 4-10 p.m. Monday-Sunday; brunch, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; Sunday Brewery Tour, 4 p.m. (reservations required)
Credit cards: Accepted
Noise level: Medium
You'll detect a heaviness in the air as soon as you crack open your car door outside Fate Brewing Co. It's most prominent on brewing days, when a micro-climate surrounds the place as vats of water steeped with yeast, hops and malt humidify under heat.
The appealing aroma beckons you to enter Fate's beer bubble, where you'll find comfort and a temporary hearth.
Make yourself at home here, sample a pint or two and settle in to enjoy some of the many menu items that feature beer in their preparation. From the beer-mustard vinaigrette, to an IPA-infused au jus, Fate goes way beyond basic bar food and burgers, paying as much attention to its cuisine as its meticulously crafted beer offerings. Though it does have a quality burger and a few other expected brew-food items, Fate makes something special of even the most mundane dishes.
I don't believe I've ever commented on baked beans before, let alone raved about them. At Fate, two kinds of beans are simmered slowly with bits of beef brisket, bacon and beer. The result -- a smoky, sweet side dish that had my dining party lapping up last licks of the saucy remnants from the monkey dish.
Typically, I'm skeptical of a $10 salad that doesn't include a featured protein. Fate, however, truly proved to this skeptic that its Farmer's Market salad was worth every penny. Aptly named and as fresh as if I'd picked it from my garden that day, this mixture of bitter baby kale, young arugula, roasted tomatoes, cucumber, roasted beets, asparagus tips, olives and snap peas was tops, with or without protein.
Getting into the meat of the meal, I ordered the house-cured pastrami Rueben, another dish that includes beer in its preparation. Russian beer dressing is spread on two crunchy slices of griddled rye bread, which is then demurely stacked with tasty pastrami. Flavor-wise, this sandwich was a winner: Fate sure knows how to cure a brisket, though it could be a tad more generous when piling it on. Creamy coleslaw, speckled with fresh pops of sliced scallion, added to the offering.
Another sandwich touted by Fate as one of its features, the dip sandwich, showcases sliced, house-roasted and smoked prime rib topped with melted provolone cheese on a Philly-style roll. A fatty cut, full of flavor and succulence, prime rib should scream with essence. Fate's prime rib sandwich only politely spoke of it and relied too much on its tasty jus bath spiked with house IPA to do the talking.
The vegetarian paella suffered an ever-so-slightly under-seasoned fate. A large portion of rice came mixed with a multitude of vegetables such as snap peas, roasted red peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, tofu and artichoke hearts. A hint of salt from brined capers and olives and a drizzle with a quality olive oil could have made the paella shine -- as would the option to add one of the house meats to the mix.
Vegetarians can, however, celebrate the sweet potato appetizer. Pan-toasted chunks of caramelized sweet potato are paired with equally caramelized red onion compote. Though typically a winter staple, this sweet-potato concoction had a summery spin. Smoked goat's milk feta and a malt vinegar reduction added tang, and peppery baby arugula lent a clean, green palate-cleansing bite.
Cool down with another fresh summery option. Whether you sip inside at the beautifully appointed bar or outside on one of Boulder's finest patios, Fate's Watermelon Kolsh, a kolsch-style beer infused with ripe chunks of summer melon, is a must-try. I know what you might be thinking, but you'd be wrong: This beer steers very clear from wine-cooler territory and into a realm all its own.
Our server suggested yet another lil' slice of summer for our dessert. Her campaign for us to order the gingerbread s'more began with a personal statement: "Everyone is born with a little hole in their heart that can only be filled by a homemade marshmallow." When a server goes into a diatribe about a particular dessert, you know you're in good caretaking hands and should immediately succumb.
A slice of house-baked ginger cake comes topped with a scoop of thick, fudgy ganache. A homemade cloud of marshmallow floats over the other heavenly ingredients. Though I'd have liked it even more if the ginger cake had been warmed, this dessert did repair a few cracks inside my heart. A last-minute suggestion of a "guest beer," Left Hand Brewing's Week Sauce Porter, with its own toasty notes of sweetness, proved a brilliant pairing to the s'more.
Fate is doing a lot of things right: brewing up some inventive and quality craft brews, conjuring up menus that cross-utilize and feature their beer in interesting and complementary ways and seemingly raising the bar for brewery fare in general.
A gourmet beer and culinary culture is forming right inside Fate's own brewery biosphere. Pop on over and smell the hops, and let the aroma of creativity surround and envelop you. They might not have gotten everything right just yet, but I'm confident self-proclaimed foodies and beer snobs alike will find lots to like about Fate Brewing Co.