Best Beers on the Grid

By Marlissa Hernandez

I was recently at Magpie Café (1409 R Street) for dinner. It’s generally pretty easy for me to order my drink (typically wine). But on this hot afternoon, I was craving a beer, which is rare for me. My friend insisted I try the Hoppy Brewing Company blonde ale, and it was delicious.

We started talking about all the places around town that seem to cater to beer drinkers (not to mention the multiple BrewFest-type events). Many of my wine drinking friends, both male and female, have turned to beer as their new drink of choice. I was under the impression that beer was a simple beverage (compared to wine for example), but boy was I wrong!

I decided to head over to Pangaea Two Brews Cafe (2743 Franklin Blvd.). The owner, Rob Archie, was nice enough to give me a basic tasting. I explained to him that I’m not a beer drinker, and I don’t really like beer because it tends to be bitter (at least for my palate). Rob explained to me that there is definitely a misconception about beer since most have grown up drinking mass-produced beer, such as Budweiser, Coors, Corona, Miller, etc.

We drink it as cold as possible to mask the flavor (that would be me). Craft beers (brewers that are local, small, independent and traditional) have a variety of flavors. Like wine, they can be citrusy, floral or fruity in flavor. They can also be sweet, bitter or sour.

I have to say, that I would never have tasted the beers that Rob picked out for me. I tasted the Pliny the Elder (Imperial IPA 8%), Malheur 12 (Quad 12%), Kwak (Belgian Amber 8.4%) and St. Louis Fond Traditional (Gueuze 5%). My favorite was the Kwak. The Malheur12 was surprisingly good, considering it looked like a dark, bitter beer. I’m not much for sour beer, but if you like sour/citrusy, try the St. Louis Fond.

Rob suggested that if you are just starting to dabble with beer, the best thing to do is ask an expert. My beer drinking friends also suggested going to a BrewFest, where there are a variety of beers to taste to help decide what you like. Like wine, there is no “beginner” beer, and the varieties are endless. Some people prefer fruity and sweet. Others can’t stay away from bitter and sour. It really just depends on individual taste.

I was also surprised to learn that like wine, beer can be paired with food. And some beers even have their own glassware, to enhance all the flavors. Be sure to look at the alcohol content – especially if you plan on having more than one – as many of the craft beers can be higher (in some cases, twice as much!). I asked Rob if there is a craft beer that is low in calories, being that this is for GOTG, and he basically said “NO.”  Apologies to all of my fellow calorie watchers.

After my tasting with Rob, I’m eager to start exploring Sacramento’s plethora of options. Here are some great options – but leave a comment below with your favorite place!

  • Pangaea Two Brews Cafe (2743 Franklin Blvd.) – Offers over 25 beers on draft, they also have a beer boutique with a huge variety of beer to take home. Tastings and food available.
  • Alley Katz (2019 O Street) – A beer bar with 27 beers on tap and over 200 bottles to choose from. Tasting’s and food available.
  • Firestone Public House (1132 16th Street) – Recently opened with over 60 beers on tap and variety of bottled beer to choose from. Food available.
  • Burgers & Brew (1409 R Street) – Voted Best Beer Selection by KCRA with 49 beers on tap and over 100 bottle beer’s to choose from. Tastings and food available.
  • Streets of London (1804 J Street) – 18 beers on tap and between 15 and 20 bottles to choose from. Food available.
  • Fox & Goose (1001 R Street)- 18 beers on tap and 16 bottles to choose from. Food available.
  • Ten22 (1022 Second Street)-24 beers on tap and about 50 bottles to choose from. Tasting’s and food available.
  • River City Brewing Company (Downtown Plaza)- local brewery with 9 beers on tap. Tasting’s and food available.
  • The Shack (5201 Folsom Blvd.) – 14 beers on tap. Tasting’s and food available.
  • de Vere’s Irish Pub (1521 L Street) – 14 beers on tap and 10  bottles to choose from. Tasting’s and food available. They will be offering a $3 craft beer (one different beer) every Friday.

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