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Sunday, February 22, 2015

A brew AND a movie at Flix Brewhouse: What a concept!

Its been a little more than two months since Flix Brewhouse opened its doors in Merle Hay Mall to offer a unique experience, a movie theatre with a functioning microbrewery. Though skeptical at first, in part due to my pining for the recently shuttered Merle Hay Cinema, my visits to Flix have been positive. Its also a much needed boost to the neighborhood as well, having lacked a first-run multiplex theatre for decades as well as being overlooked by the local microbrewing industry.

The way to my heart is through my stomach so it was no surprise that my first visit was not to catch a movie, but to quaff a couple of Flix's house crafted beers. The Lupulus IPA features a light body that comes off citrusy at first, but the bitterness blossomed with further sups. A malty and lightly sweet 10 Day Scottish Ale greeted me with a slight smokiness atop its nutty flavor. Flix's Golden Ale offers light malt and scant hoppiness. Its a highly approachable blonde ale for the masses.

The Luna Rosa Wit is a blood orange influenced wheat, spiced with coriander, with a refreshing citrus acidity. The Kill Shot Scotch Ale with cacao nibs and ancho chile offers a sweet caramel malt with a subliminal boozy punch. A quite drinkable Satellite Red Ale provides a mild roasty flavor with floral hoppiness and a yeasty backbone.

After several visits to the bar, I finally found an opportunity to take in a movie. The seats are fairly comfortable, with fold down arm rests with glass holders, plus a slide-out tray up front for your food order. All seating at Flix is reserved; you can make your selection either at the ticket counter or in advance online. Seating times run about 20-30 minutes prior to screening times, during which you take your assigned seat, are greeted by a server, and your order is placed and served. Once the movie starts you are given pen and paper to jot down any further orders and instructed to press a button in front of your seat to request service. Before the movie ends, the server comes around for payment and to clear your tray. Its fairly straightforward and efficient, but can be confusing to those accustomed to the traditional movie theatre experience.

On this occasion, unsure if a single pizza could serve two healthy appetites, my movie mate and I both settled on the Meatloaf sandwich, offering Irish meatloaf, red onion, pepper jack cheese, and a housemade rémoulade on soft, toasted ciabatta bread. The meatloaf was surprisingly tender, and a side of seasoned French fries were golden and consistently crisp. Such a joy to eat were the fries, I pocketed the ketchup packets for later use.

Returning for more brews, an aggressive smoke aroma enticed me when I first approached the Lucky George Smoked Porter. Its easy drinking even as the smoke continued on the palate. The Rose Tattoo IPA with its appealing hue is hoppy and bright, and primed my appetite for more. The Corn Fed Collab IPA is a Confluence/Peace Tree/New American/Flix Brewhouse collaboration that's appropriately bitter but quite smooth and drinkable.

A pleasant surprise on my next visit to Flix was the weekend brunch offered. Their Breakfast Pizza is built on a thin, consistently crisp crust. Caramelized onions are the standout on this build, followed by red bell pepper and green onion. Four cheeses, scrambled egg, and breakfast sausage round out the ingredients, but its the mélange of veggies that makes the pizza. So much so you could easily skip the sausage for a delightful vegetarian alternative.

The Saison de Walt is a bright tasting Belgian farmhouse ale that excites with a smidgen of floral. Its a dry white wine drinkers' beer. A heady Anubis Stout with a deep, rich, roasted malt offers an appealing dark chocolate flavor. The Great White Buffalo white IPA is medium-bodied, with a soft, rounded bitterness, and a citrus finish. Surprising Winter Wheat starts off with a dose of banana that fades into caramel with a hint of nutmeg. The finish is tongue-curling.

On further visits I was able to explore more menu items. The Bacon Bleu Burger featured a blue cheese studded burger, topped with cheddar, bacon, and Thousand Island dressing. The blue cheese embedded in the beef patty contributes just a hint of funk against more aggressive flavors. Overall a fairly decent burger, and the fries once more were delightfully crispy and seasoned well.

The Meat Lovers pizza proved that the Breakfast Pizza was no fluke. Topped with a four-cheese blend, marinara, and generous amounts of salami, pepperoni, diced ham, bacon, and sausage, it more than lives up to its name.

I appreciate what Flix Brewhouse has to offer. And I've been very pleased with the friendly staff there, especially at the bar. Its where you'll usually find me, savoring whatever seasonal brew or inventive IPA they have to offer.

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