Let us warn you ahead of time: the ceiling fans at Mission Hill's best craft beer bar (cleverly masquerading as a pizza joint), Penguin Pizza, do not double as air conditioning. Turns out when you combine pizza ovens with a bunch of sweaty people, you get even sweatier people! Go figure. The solution for sweating, however — cold beer — it has in spades.
When we originally reviewed this Brigham Circle mainstay a little over seven years ago, their beer list was respectable, but not exactly noteworthy. These days, the selection is on par with the Publick House or Deep Ellum, boasting around 345 brews from every corner of the globe.
Due to the behemoth nature of the list, we subscribed to the close-your-eyes-and-point credo to make things simple. If it's particularly steamy in there, we found that Unibroue's Ephemère ($7) — tinged with green apple — is as crisp and tartly refreshing as they come. If you're looking to nurse something over some wings ($6.99) — great wings — at the bar, anything off their Belgians list is top notch; we wound up with Golden Monkey Tripel ($6.50), a reliable favorite, and Westmalle Tripel ($8.50). Both were full-bodied, amber-hued, and stone-fruit sweet on the finish, ensuring a tipsy walk home. Hitachino White ($8) is light and clean, with a strangely appealing oaky aftertaste.
On the pizza front, not much has changed since they opened their doors, and the odds-on gourmet favorite is still the Tuscan fig and prosciutto ($12.99). Just enough salty and caramelized sweet, it's the option that consistently packs the most punch, flavor-wise. Curiously, curry fries ($4.75) rocked. Fries doused in a lightly spicy curry sauce (and we mean doused) sounds like they'd be a soggy disaster — somehow, they're not.
And, since it wouldn't be a proper pub without a proper challenge, you can pick up a Penguin passport at the bar to be stamped by your bartender once you settle the tab. Settle in for a long haul before you nab the prize, and uh, watch for the beer gut 345 pints later.
PENGUIN PIZZA, located at 735 Huntington Ave, is open Monday-Friday from 11 am-1 am, and on Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm-1 am. For more information, call 617.277.9200 or visit thepenguinpizza.com.