A good beer and some ribs

Okay, so weeks later, I finally get around to telling you about my birthday dinner. That's all right, though, because I might still be digesting it.

A little biography first:

My dad was an actor, and one of his many roles was a small turn as Death in Stop the World I Want to Get Off! I had the benefit (as a very young man) of being a castmember's son, and as such I was given an equally small role (Little Littlechap, y'all! Represent). The play was put on at the Between the Locks stage. The building still stands, and has housed a number of businesses and a few eateries over the years.

So, other than one very short trip to the no-longer-with-us Dos Bandidos, my birthday dinner marked the first time I'd been in Between the Locks since I was about 5. It was a little surprising how familiar it felt, including the fact that we went in the back door rather than the front. It smelled the same. Wild.

The new establishment is Stone Cellar, most recently known as Adler Brau. They've got a really wide menu for a brew pub, and I was happily torn as to what entree to order.

It should be noted that my first beer of choice was a porter. If you're a porter purist, perhaps this would not be for you; it was surprisingly light, and didn't stick to the tongue like many dark beers can. It was very drinkable, if not totally faithful to the Fuller's London-style of porter.

Anyway, I went with the BBQ ribs in a crazy-good stout BBQ sauce. This is where the stick-to-your-mouth experience began. The sauce was clingy and sweet, with a definite stout presence, and the ribs were so well-cooked that nothing was left on the bone but teeth marks.

With my lovely rack of ribs, I enjoyed a special brew at Stone Cellar--the vanilla stout. Again, it was a fairly light drinker (for a stout), although it was thicker than the porter (as it should have been). The vanilla drew my attention, but didn't scream at me, and it was a great way to bring out the sweetness in the BBQ sauce.

I'm dropping the ball as to what I had for dessert (this is what I get for waiting so damn long to post this), but I know it was tasty.

The atmosphere at Between the Locks is very appealing; obviously, it has a quality that sticks with you over time. I'm hoping that Stone Cellar continues to thrive, because it's a great place to have a brew pub. If you're in the Appleton area, it's worth the safari into the middle of town to visit Stone Cellar. If I might borrow the grade scale of my friends at Eating in Madison A to Z, I'd give Stone Cellar a solid A. I will definitely be back, and at the risk of offending the fine folks at the Fox River Brewing Company, I'd like to say that that's how you craft a brew pub menu.