The Watering Hole: The Pine Box, 1600 Melrose Ave., CAPITOL HILL
The Atmosphere: Setting Catholic guilt aside, there's something fantastically sneaky about drinking in a place that feels like a church. With its cathedral ceilings, tall stained-glass windows, and wide wooden booths, The Pine Box (formerly Chapel), opened a few months ago, is still an undiscovered neighborhood gem. Yet the venue gets its name not from a former cathedral of firs, but from another of society's cobwebbed venues: a funeral home. Bright LCD screens, perfectly ironic considering the room's deathly origins, announce the 33 taps' various beers of the day, giving patrons new and interesting selections each time they visit.
The Barkeep: Ian Roberts, 33. Bearded, tatted, and adorned with glasses and a skinny black V-neck, he looks the part of a beer-industry vet, and has the charm and rapport with the young bar's regulars to prove it. As the former general manager of Fremont's hop-geek heaven, Brouwer's Cafe, Roberts obviously knows his brew. (The team behind Brouwer's opened The Pine Box, of which Roberts is co-owner, so his presence behind the bar is no coincidence.)
The Drink: Given Roberts' history, I shouldn't have been surprised when he reaches for a tap instead of liquor. "I've been pouring beer since I was 15," he says. "That's half my life!" He selects New Belgium's Tart Lychee. I ask if this is what he drinks after work. His response: "Right now, yes. It's pretty rare, so you can't get it just anywhere."
The Verdict: Other sours I've had have been overpowering, but the Lychee was smooth—yet just tart enough to keep things interesting.