I wouldn’t exactly call Greenville a beer town… yet. The looming presence of Bob Jones University has kept the bible belt tight around the waist of the city for a long time. However, the growth of industry and influx of new blood has loosened that belt a notch or two in recent years.
Still only a two-brewery town, Greenville has taken a few steps closer to beerdom. Barley’s Tap Room has been a bastion of good beer for 10 years, and in the past year and a half we’ve had The Community Tap and Greenville Beer Exchange join the cause of bringing good beer to the scene.
This month, The Trappe Door opened, unlocking a gathering spot that has the same “cool” factor that the Brick Store Pub and The Thirsty Monk bring to Atlanta and Asheville. In the basement below Barley’s, it has that cozy, cellar feel that allows your imagination to teleport you 4,300 miles to Belgium.
Dimly lit, with low ceilings, big wooden doors and an amazing attention to detail create an atmosphere that feels as though they shipped a 200 year-old Belgian beer hall brick by brick to Greenville. It’s the type of place you could lose yourself in the bottom of a few pints and good conversation, and before you know it two hours have passed.
Atmosphere is one thing, but the real question is whether it brings the goods. How’s the beer list? The baby of Barley’s owner Josh Beebe, there was little doubt that the Trappe Door’s selection would excite. 10 taps, 100+ bottles with everything from Belgian Wit to Flanders Red. As a sour beer fanatic, I was relieved to see about 20 lambics and sours on the list.
The final cherry on top is the food. There’s nothing more disappointing than boring food to accompany good beer. That is not the case here. They put a unique Belgian twist on the dishes, which include lamburger sliders with mint beet relish and goat cheese, sauteed duck breast with a cherry beer sauce, carbonades flamandes (beef stew cooked in Belgian beer), a variety of mussel pots, and yes, even Belgian waffles.
If I had one piece of constructive criticism, it would be that the fluorescent light from the kitchen in the back pierces the ambiance of the back three tables. I was even seated in the far corner in the back, but was facing the kitchen, and like a moth I found myself not being able to look away from the light. If they could find some way to put up a door or veil the light from the kitchen, it could save the back third of the bar.
AUTHOR’S NOTE, 6-26-2011: On a recent visit, I noticed they had turned off the moth light on the edge of the kitchen. It was much, much better.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Trappe Door in my initial visit. I felt like it brought the entire package: atmosphere, beer and food. I think it’s going to be a big step in Greenville’s continuing transformation into a beer destination. Now I don’t have to drive over an hour to get to a “cool” beer bar. I have one in my town.