CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 3 Sacramento Area Pubs
Pangaea Two Brews Cafe, 2743 Franklin Boulevard, Sacramento, California
Burgers & Brews, 403 3rd Street, Davis, California
University of Beer, 615 3rd Street, Davis, California
On my spring visit to California I took advantage of my side trip to the San Francisco Bay Area to pay a visit to noted bizzarreal artiologist Unkletom in Sacramento. Located northeast of the Bay Area in the northern part of the Central Valley, the state capitol of Sacramento grew out of the fort established by Swiss immigrant John Sutter and his sons in 1839. It was a major distribution point and transportation terminus during the Gold Rush. Today Sacramento is the heart of the fourth largest metropolitan area in the state. In 2002 the city was named by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University as "America's Most Diverse City."
Mistah Rick and I drove up on a Friday to pick up my uncle at his house in the suburb of Citrus Heights, famous for its feral turkey population. Then we headed into Sacramento proper to have lunch and some pints at Pangaea Two Brews Cafe.
This split-personality drink venue was established with the intention of creating a true "third place". It was named after the hypothetical supercontinent of Pangaea not only because of the two brews but because the cafe has the unusual distinction of having two zip codes. The owner's emphasis is on providing good quality coffee, food, beer, and wine, as well as offering a setting where people want to hang out.
Of all the choices at the bar, the barman said nothing very hoppy was on at the moment. I tasted all hoppy options and went for The House IPA (6.8% ABV, Berryessa Brewing Company, Winters, California). This imparts a good fuzzy hops flavour, with the texture of corduroy ribs on the tongue. Rick had a pint of What Is The New Hops (6.0% ABV, Mikkeller Brewing, Copenhagen, Denmark). This has a distinct herbal taste, like incense. After sampling this pint I finally understood what the California-popular tasting term "brett" means. Having not had a pint of beer for months, Unkletom broke his fast by going for a pint of Bianche de Bruxelles (4.5% ABV, Brasserie Lefebvre, Quenast, Belgium). This is a light lemon beer, a lemonade of a brew, only without sweetness or sourness.
The pub's emphasis appears to be on Belgian beers with a few California microbrews. The decor is made up mostly of tap handles, and there are tables outside in the front.
Before we left Rick and I shared a pint of Arabier (8.0% ABV, De Dolle Brouwers, Esen, Belgium). This is like a fruitbowl with gardenias blooming nearby. There is a thick aromatic wash on the palate that drips slowly off the sides of the tongue, leaving a sizzle. Think of a fruity gardenia body wash poured on a cat's tongue just before its bath. (And subtract the cat breath, of course.)
After dropping off Unkletom, Mistah Rick and I headed back down to the Bay Area. On the way we stopped in the town of Davis, famous for its University of California campus, its liberal politics, and its bike paths. We parked the car amid the letters and numbers -- specifically near the corner of 3rd Street and F Street -- and spotted a crowded beer garden that beckoned us on this hot afternoon.
Burgers & Brews features, obviously, burgers as well as beers from North America, the UK, and Europe. On the day we visited they were offering a number of beers from the Dogfish Head Brewery. We shared pints of 90 Minute IPA (9.0% ABV, Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, Delaware), which is dangerously smooth for its strength, with a definite hops fizz. The other pint we shared was Rhizing Bines (8.0% ABV, Dogfish Head), which is a collaboration with Sierra Nevada Brewing using Bravo hops and Sierra Nevada's "torpedo system" of infusing hops. Sadly both pints had a bit of a headless soda-pop background. Was it due to bad line management? Bad glasses? Struggling with the mixture of incongruous flavours in each of our choices, we eventually decided to abandon our "cokes" because we just weren't enjoying them that much.
We moved down the road, not knowing where we were going, and stumbled upon Davis's wonderful beer secret that was a lot more crowded than the previous pub. The University of Beer features two sets of thirty taps, and also a wide range of bottled beers. Two big TV screens display the 60 microbrews currently on tap, with constant real-time updates, and a third displays the current bottled beers, with several iPads at the bar that display the same information. Kegs that have been recently tapped are in bold type on the displays. I felt as if I were on Wall Street watching the stocks rise and fall.
After wading our way only halfway through the choices I decided on a pint of Sculpin' IPA (7.0% ABV, Ballast Point Brewery, San Diego, California) which was, of course, absolutely gorgeous -- my favourite brew of this year's trip, in the class of Abbeydale Deception. Rick had a pint of Tricerahops Double IPA (8.8% ABV, Ninkasi Brewing Company, Eugene, Oregon). This is very generously hopped. Rick described it as a leather-skinned Jurassic character who was wearing a lacy garter around one leg and holding a bouquet of flowers. Yes, I quite agree! The Hopageddon (9.2% ABV, Napa Smith Brewery, Napa, California) we tasted, I hate to admit, was actually over the top -- the hop top, that is. I never thought it possible that my tongue could overdose on hops, but it did.
We took our pints out in the front patio area and sat at a bar overlooking the pavement where we discovered our neighbour to one side was from Faversham, Kent. I know it's a cliché, but seeing as how I used to live in Kent it is indeed a small world.
Back inside, along the top of the bar, there is an ice cold metal strip that provides a resting place for pint glasses to be kept cold. The pub's owners also own a local Thai restaurant and a noodle bar, and pub customers can order food to be delivered from either of these establishments. On weekdays from noon to 5:00 is the "Study Hour" when all pints are $1.00 off. We had obviously stumbled into the middle of the microbrew study hall in the middle of exams. Shhh, be quiet, just drink the pints...