Nimbus Bistro & Brewery: A Reviewby Jim Gressinger on Jul. 14, 2012, under Local Adventures, Restaurant Reviews, Southern Arizona Breweries
Our review of Nimbus American Bistro & Brewery is #3 in our series on Southern Arizona craft breweries.
Once again, my sampling partner, Michael Polletta, and I continued our arduous journey through Southern Arizona with the singular goal to sample all the beers brewed by our local microbreweries.
We started several weeks ago at Thunder Canyon Brewing Company located in the Foothills Mall. Good beer. Just OK food. New World (modern) Public House ambiance.
Then two Sundays ago, we made our way to Barrio Brewing Company at Toole & 16th Street. Very good beer. Very good pub food. Old World (as in old warehouse) atmosphere. Highly recommended. In time, I would like to get a tour and meet the proprietor and/or brewmeister. Methinks Barrio is what a true brewery/public house ought to look and feel like.
Most recently, we headed across town to Nimbus Bistro & Brewery on Tanque Verde. Our journey just kept getting better and better.
But first, allow me to digress briefly. We went to their Bistro, not their brewery on E. 44th Street. Nimbus has been a local Tucson brewery since the twilight years of the prior century and, according to their official history; they are now the largest (producing the most quantity) Arizona microbrewery.
Which raises a question. As the largest, are they no longer a “micro-brewery”. As such, should we now refer to Nimbus as a “mini-brewery”? How large can a “micro” brewery be before it isn’t. Just askin’.
Michael & I arrived about 5 PM on a Sunday and the Bistro was not at all busy. Lindsey was our serving wench; pleasant, efficient, and when it comes to beers, definitely knowledgeable.
As is our protocol, we both ordered the Nimbus beer sampler: 7 different kinds of beer in 7 large sampling glasses … for only $9. What a deal!
As is our practice, we ordered food that, in theory, would go with any beer. Michael ordered the Nimbus Reuben sandwich: a generous portion of corned beef brisket on toasted rye with Russian dressing, melted Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut. “Very good,” said he.
A favorite dish with beer, I considered the Nimbus Fish & Chips: 2-battered cod fillets with fries, cole slaw, and tartar sauce. Several weeks ago I wrote a review of Metropolitan Grill on N. Oracle and stated without hesitation that my Metropolitan Fish & Chips was at least as good as any I enjoyed in Merry Old England. Excellent!
But around Tucson, I’m usually disappointed. Stale fish, over-cooked, tasteless, etc, too often accompanied by soggy chips (fries).
I was not expecting Metropolitan quality from an establishment that specializes in fine craft beers. Nevertheless, Lindsey highly recommended this simple dish common to pubs around the world. So skeptical was I that I called over Sha-ron’, the manager who hails from Israel, to inquire as to her recommendation. Same. Fish & Chips.
To my surprise and delight, the batter was light & fluffy, and the fish very tasty. The equal of Metro Grill’s. Wow! Should you go to Nimbus Bistro, I suggest you take the wait staff’s recommendations. Obviously they possess inside knowledge.
Our beer samples were soon orderly placed on our table. Nimbus does something that, so far, no other brewery has done. They place each sample on a long mat just above its name and description. Very professional. At the other establishments, Michael & I were always looking for that chalkboard or sign on a wall that communicated the order in which the samples were arranged so we could know which one we were to sample next.
- Dirty Guera (Blonde): their light pale ale. Domestic pale malts, German hops, and mesquite honey from hives in Bisbee. To Michael’s and my tastes, too much water, not enough hops or alcohol. I think the word we were looking for was “weak”. But those who like a light pale ale will no doubt enjoy this one.
- Nimbus Pale Ale: a robust pale ale similar to the craft beers brewed in Portland, OR and Seattle, WA. Sweet malt flavors blended with Northwest hops. Slightly fruity. I’m guessing that this variety is their most popular, but still not enough alcohol (only 5.5%) or “hoppy” bitterness for our tastes.
- Red Ale: fairly typical of American light amber beers. Slightly sweet – more malt than hops.
- Nimbus Pilsner? On this one I’m not sure. I know we sampled their pilsner, a pale lager, but it did not have a place on our beer-identification mat. Nor does it show up on their website. Not that it matters, really. It was too light and not much flavor. For a light beer, Dirty Guera “es mas mejor”.
- Oatmeal Stout: not a brown stout. This stout is black and mildly robust. For whatever reason, the Nimbus brewmeister has chosen to keep the alcohol content down to 5%. You can definitely taste the oats and the bitterness of the hops, but neither is overwhelming. Oatmeal Stout has a rich, creamy feel & taste with a dry finish. Unique and very good.
- Nimbus Nut Brown Ale: a medium dark beer, lighter than typical English brown ales. A nutty, not at all fruity taste with a hint of coffee-chocolate flavors. Only 5% abv. This Brown Ale might be appropriate for those who usually favor the lighter pale ales and ambers, but aren’t ready to step up to serious dark beers. Nevertheless, as we progressed along the sampling line, Michael & I sensed that were coming close to beer nirvana.
- Old Monkey Shine: BEER HEAVEN! Not quite Guinness from the barrel in Dublin, but very much like a typical brown English ale one finds at every public house in the Kingdom (or is it Queendom?). Definite hints of brown sugar and caramel malt, but the dark roasted flavor dominates. Caution: 8.2% abv. Our favorite.
Here’s our recommendation. Nimbus has a beer for every beer-drinkers taste. In their own niche, all are very good (except maybe that mysterious pilsner). Plus delicious food in generous portions to accompany several pints. Nimbus Bistro on Tanque Verde: highly recommended.