The Downtown Double is a collaboration between Huske Hardware and Bright Light Brewing Company. Huske is the long-time staple of downtown pub life, a craft beer station that came along well before the craft beer boom of the last few years. Bright Light is a more recent addition to the Fayetteville craft beer scene, a burgeoning garage space off Russell Street that is doing what the craft movement does well as it builds an experience of food trucks, game nights, and a buzzy atmosphere where the beer is an important, but not overriding, part of the experience. Huske is much quieter, a cavern of a place that attracts the business lunch crowd during the days and a massive stream of weekend partiers at its sister club, the Taphouse, just next door.
Huske scratches a nostalgic itch I have, both because I made several trips to either England or Scotland in college and graduate school and more or less swam myself from place to place, soaked in pubs that averaged in age from 100 to 400 years old. I know a pub, I think, and the atmosphere at Huske begins to rub up against that idea in a welcome way. Huske was also the first “real” place my family and I visited after moving to Fayetteville in 2010.
Bright Light Brewing is more craft nouveau. In recent memory, the venue was a CrossFit gym. Now, it’s an open space with tables and chairs that are almost always full whenever I want a beer, and a warmly lit patio with a pull-up spot for food trucks that roar at least as loud as the conversation.
Independently, I think Huske and Bright Light have a bit to prove with their beers. Huske beers tend to have an overly roasty profile, with a bit of bitterness on the back end of all of them, and their experimental beers, like the Thin Mint stout, are more a novelty than a quality drink. Bright Light has a much more varied set of flavors, but the best of them have a coppery, metallic element sometimes.
Together however, the Downtown Double IPA is a true marvel of a beer, in part because of the defiant nature of the thing in the glass. A hazy, toasted straw color, the beer maintains a light Belgian character through and through, to the extent that the hoppy nature you’d expect from an IPA — and a double IPA at that — is something you have to go hunting for. The beer has the banana and licorice notes you’d expect from a Belgian, but with a buttery quality unusual for its kind. This beer dances well between the Belgian and IPA profiles, with low bitterness except a bit of pop on the finish.
This is a beer worth going out of the way for if you want something light and engaging without the full assault of an IPA on the tastebuds.