Finnegans Beers

I tried ordering a Finnegans Irish Ale at the Longfellow Grill Tuesday night, but was shut down by the waitress. She’d never heard of it before, so I explained that it’s a local beer brewed by a non-profit and bottled by Summit that donates money to local charities. Apparently, she’s a bit of a cynic since she responded by saying something like, “but can’t non-profits pay their employees a lot of money?” which certainly is true, but in no way discounts the work of Finnegans.

Here’s a bit more about the beer:

Just Looking: Luke Francl’s Weblog

Jacquie Berglund is the owner of Finnegans Irish Ale. Jacquie started Finnegans in 2000 with the idea of donating all profits back to the community. The became profitable in 2003 and have raised over $60,000 for a slew of great causes.

They’re also organizing a Summerfest at the Cabooze on June 9th.

Finnegans is available at East Lake Liquor in bottles and on tap at Merlin’s Rest.

Merlin’s Rest Restaurant Review

I stopped into Merlin’s Rest on my way home from downtown the other day to check out the newest bar in Longfellow.

Merlin’s Rest is in what used to be Popeye’s. From what I gather, Popeye’s sold out and the new owners decided to freshen things up a bit and give the place an Irish feel.

They have some sort of connection to Molly Quinn’s. I don’t think any of the Molly Quinn’s owners are owners of Merlin’s Rest, but they’ve been involved in the layout and beer selections.

The taps include Guinness, Boddington’s, Newcastle, Finnegan’s, Summit, and Harp. My Boddington’s and Harp orders both ran $4.75 on a Thursday night, which screams steep for a non-downtown bar.

They added a lot of new glass to the exterior, which surely lightens things up during daylight hours.

They’re working on an Irish menu with shepherd’s pie and other delicacies, but it sounds like they’re still looking for a chef.

The pool tables from Popeye’s have been replaced with additional, but empty, seating. Hopefully, they’ll fill the place over time.

The decor includes many framed Guinness posters. Possibly relics from Molly Quinn’s.

My biggest complaint comes from sitting at the bar. The lighting above the bar draws from cheap florescent lights, casting an unflattering haze on bar patrons. Fixing the four lights above the bar would make a BIG difference in the bar ambiance.

Overall, I think Merlin’s Rest is better positioned than the latest rendition of Molly Quinn’s at making a successful run at a successful East Lake St business. Pulling back from $4.75 to $3.75 on beers, scratching the florescent lights, and a little local marketing should do the trick.