For my wife's last Friday working downtown we decided to pop into the Raleigh Times Bar after she got off work. This bar is one of the trendy new establishments that have sprung up as a result of Raleigh's initiative to revitalize downtown. Housed in the headquarters of the now extinct Raleigh Times, the walls of this bar are decorated with newspaper memorabilia discovered during the renovation of the building.
This bar has an excellent, if expensive, selections of Belgian brews that include abbeys, Trappists like Chimay, lambics, Fantome, and will feature "Christmas in July" next month, a showcase of Belgian Christmas specialty beers. They also feature a wide variety of craft beers and imports including Raleigh's own Big Boss Double Wit, Dogfish Head, Bell's Brewery, and even a traditional Rauchbier. The food is on the fancy side of pub food. The burger is excellent as are the ham sandwich and the corned beef Reuben. They also have a selection of salads and appetizers that includes chicken fried pickles!
The only qualms I have with the place is they were out of two beers we tried to order on a Friday night - a Schneider Weisse Hefeweizen and Bell's Kalamazoo Stout - and their service is spotty at best. However, none of these were the reason for my visit. I came for the Gaffel Kolsch. What could be better during the hot summer months than a traditional Kolsch actually brewed in Cologne served on draft and in the proper glassware? This elusive beer poured a clear light golden straw with a perfectly white head comprised of fine tiny bubbles. The aroma is of spicy hops with a slight fruitiness just peeking through. The overall drinking experience is a crisp clear light refreshing beer with a slight pear fruitiness that grows into a delightful sweet counter point to the dry slightly bitter finish as the beer warms. This was an excellent light and bubbly beer for the summer months. I definitely plan on coming back for Christmas in July!