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Reviews on PubCrawler from easong
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December 21, 2014 @ 10:19 PM EDT
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Beer Reviews

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Beer Reviews from easong
Average Rating
Beer Quality
Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good Great Great

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
So So Good So So Good So So

Establishment: Lumberyard Brewing Company, Standard, CA

There are not a lot of breweries in the California gold rush country so I made an effort to get to Lumberyard on a recent trip up to Yosemite. Stayed the night in a quaint 18th century hotel in nearby Jamestown about 15 minutes from the brewery.

Lumberyard Brewing occupies the old (19th century)Standard Lumberyard building -- whose most recent occupant was Snowshoe Brewing (which has now retreated back to their single location in Arnold).

I went in with a big thirst after the 4+ hour drive out of the traffic-jammed Bay Area and was ready to knock back a couple of Clear Cut IPAs.

First worries started with the color -- a bit too brown for an IPA, and bubbles emanating from the pint glass almost as if from a sparkling wine. Aroma acceptable, but first sip provided a wave of bitterness in the back of the throat that recalled my own home-brew experiments of years gone by. The 7% alcohol provided needed medicinal value after the long drive, but the excessive carbonation drove the ale into an aggressive realm where master brewers know not to venture. In a word, gnarly (but I ordered a second one to make sure).

Ironically, the brewer was walking around in a Pliny the Elder t-shirt. Excellent role model, long road to travel.

Food and service were so so but it was a slow Friday night around 8 and the wait staff wasn't making much. If you are in the Sonora area it's worth a stop, and it seemed very family-friendly like a good pub should be.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Good Great Great

Establishment: Pudley's Tavern, San Carlos, CA

I drove by this place for years without trying it, mainly because I am an internet snob who doesn't waste his time going into places unless I can check out their beer selection online. Happened to be walking by there today when lo and behold I saw a Green Flash West Coast IPA tap handle through the window. The place was jammed with serious lunchtime regulars who were all on a first name with one another and the barmaid -- this is always a good sign.

22 taps, all but 5 craft brews or imports. The IPA was 22 oz going for $5 (pints for $4.00) so I went big of course. Fresh and clean, properly drawn. A patron told me the Green Flash had just replaced the Firestone Union Jack, another very nice IPA.

Good draft microbrew is very tough to find on the SF Peninsula (unlike the City, the East Bay, and the North Bay). This is the best tap selection between SF and Palo Alto I've found to date.

The burgers were freakin huge too. And the barmaid was great.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Great Great Great Great

Establishment: The Rose and Crown, Palo Alto, CA

The Rose and Crown is a dark little English-style soccer pub hidden off a parking lot in downtown Palo Alto. It is distinguished by having the best fish-n-chips in the area -- they serve fresh flakey white cod lightly battered and never dripping with excess grease, along with chips which are hand-cut daily. There are 12 brews on tap, usually half representing the pub favorites of Britain, the other half a rotating selection of west coast microbrews. On recent visits I had Green Flash Imperial IPA and Left Coast Hopjuice. The current regular IPA is Bear Republic Racer 5, but sometimes they carry Drake's as well. The proprietor is also proud of his selection of Belgians available in the bottle.

On a weekend afternoon it's a sleepy and friendly spot where regulars waste the day watching English football (go Liverpool!) or just reading their papers over a few pints. In the evening the place crowds up and can get hot for live music or comedy, or just darts. Nice jukebox with a good mix for all generations of ale lovers.

If you prefer to watch American football on a big TV while you consume a pitcher of Coors Light, the Old Pro is just a block away, and I think you'll find everything you need there.

The Rose and Crown is Palo Alto's hidden jewel (it's a dusty jewel).


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! Great Awesome! Awesome!

Establishment: The Bistro was Vintage Cellar Bistro, Hayward, CA

I have lived in the Bay Area 19 years and only discovered the Bistro after 18 of them. What was I missing? Just the best fresh beer California has to offer is all. Ever since I have been going there at least twice a month, and every time I go Vic the proprietor has 3-4 new things on tap I have never tasted, and every one is interesting if not superb. His special relationship with brewers, developed throug years of hosting IPA and other special-brew festivals, enables him to rotate kegs through that nobody else around the bay can get, such as excellent San Diego brews from Green Flash, Stone, and Port, to name a few. Also, there are precious few locations in the Bay Area where you can reliably get the fine Russian River IPAs, and none south or west of Hayward. That's a shame, the South Bay beer selection is dominated by Gordon Blech and the Tide Outhouse, but it's all to the Bistro's glory that fantastic brew is only 20 minutes away from San Jose.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good Great Great Great

Establishment: Downtown Brewing Company, Paso Robles, CA

Paso Robles is a small town with over a hundred wineries. On a really hot summer day, after pounding down zinfandel for hour after hour, and it's 99 degrees outside -- what could be better than hitting a cool brewpub to suck down a few icy IPAs? Nada.

Stuck right off the square in downtown Paso, this second-floor pub also has a balcony where you can sit outside as the temperature on a summer evening drops below 80 -- as a gentle breeze off the Pacific comes over the coast range gap and blows the heat straight to Hell (Bakersfield). In the evening, Paso is heaven.

The beer selection also included a stout, an amber, and what appeared to be a wheat. Looks like a pale happens sometimes but didn't see it this time. I hung with the IPA which was not overhopped, but no hint of sweet malt either, pretty high gravity but compared to the 16% zins that infest Paso, beer is water.

Will go here next time for sure.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good So So Good Good Good

Establishment: Boulder Creek Brewing Company, Boulder Creek, CA

I live in the Santa Cruz Mtns and have been going to this place for about twelve years now. The brewer is competent and periodically adventurous. The place is pure Boulder Creek hippy redneck chic, certainly a good thing. It's like Ken Kesey might walk through the door with some biker babe in arm. The best beers are the stout, the IPA, and the barleywine when available. Recently had the new pale ale, nice crisp hoppy attack but a little light on the finish. Frankly, though, after a day hiking in the redwood forest you just want a few cold ones in a real human place. It's for real. As for food, they don't mess up anything fried.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! Great Good Great

Establishment: Englander Sports Pub and Restaurant, San Leandro, CA

Although I have lived in the Bay Area for nearly 18 years, San Leandro has never been anywhere near my beaten path, so I rarely pass by there. I first heard about the Englander during the World Cup ) summer 06) when they were rated the number one place to watch "soccer" with real fans and real beer. So I marked it as a place to check out, next time I was cruising up I-880 from San Jose to Oakland.

Well, finally checked it out for lunch this past Saturday and it was exactly as advertized by most other reviewers here -- excellent all around. No lie, 100 decent beers, ales and ciders on draft, as well as Bud in the bottle for your clueless buddy, if you have to bring him along. Two dozen big TVs blasting every sport from rugby to rodeo, including a full wall of Cal vs. Stanford's Big Game. Very nice wait staff, best sports bar I've been to in the Bay Area overall, and of course I am heavily biased by the beer selection.

For drinking I had Pliney the Elder from Russian River Brewing, an 8.0 "double IPA" which is a beast unto itself, a majestically headed heavy malt brew with hops up the wazoo. This cannot properly be called an IPA -- it's liquid bliss -- the hoppiness lingers on for minutes and the malt is a meal in itself. Nonetheless, for food I had the tandoori chicken caeser salad, along with fried calamari as an appetizer. The squid was temporarily adequate as an ale-sponge, but the salad was fantastic, and it's hugeness negated the need for any dinner that evening.

I will definitely head back to the Englander before the next World Cup (or the next decent Raiders season).


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good Good So So Good

Establishment: Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem, NC

Glad to see Piedmont NC has been getting better in all regards compared to when I grew up there. While visiting my family in nearby Greensboro this Thanksgiving I went to Winston-Salem to pick up a turkey and stopped for lunch at Foothills Brewing located downtown. When I was growing up in NC going into any drinking establishment meant bad beer and a black lung disease. Things have improved in both regards. While Greensboro has a better brewpub, Natty Green's, I have to say that Winston's Foothills Brewery was more than decent with regards to the beer. I concentrated on the Double IPA, as usual, and found it adequately hopped for the 9% weight, no overt sweetness lingering in the full golden malt, and with an unexpectedly nice aromatic head almost like a stout. Foodwise, competent on the fried calamari with spicy sauce, lettuce not-so-fresh on the salads but what the heck, it was Thanksgiving week and business was slow. I would and will go back some time. If you are traveling across NC on I-40 be sure to take the business route through downtown, then it's a quick on and off the highway.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Great Great Great

Establishment: 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco, CA

Just had my first experience at 21st Amendment. This place is on busy 2nd Street within sight of the ballpark, although just far enough away to discourage the weak from stumbling in. For the SF-initiated, the location is right across the street from South Park, which is not to be confused with the popular cartoon on TV. Or, maybe it is. Dunno. South Park is where the ultra-cool dot commies used to hang when they still had jobs, and hey, walking through there I saw a few left. They may not have jobs any more, but they have a GREAT brewpub. I was there for a late lunch on a busy Monday, sat at the bar, got the basic West Coast IPA (7.2) and a plate of calamari. Excellent. They also had the double IPA available (10.2, "limit 2 per customer" said the sign) but since I had business I had to pass -- however I will go back tomorrow night and check out the double and the effect of a Giants night game during a pennant race. The service was SOMA all the way, frowning young women with attiitude. You will love it, best IPA in the City, and best bay area brew outside of Marin/Sonoma.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Great Great Great

Establishment: Steelhead Brewing Company, Burlingame, CA

I eat here very week at least once. Usually for lunch, where I sit at the bar. The staff treats me and all the other regulars like gold. Hell, even the newcomers get attention. As noted above, it is true that the table service can be spotty during a rush, so avoid the rush, come early or late. The main room is huge and the pool room is extremely hoppin in the evenings. The proximity of the train station means you only have to cross one busy street to get close to home in one piece.

The seasonal brews rule here, especially the winter ales and the double IPA. My normal lunch is a couple of standard 6.2 IPAs. A double and the boss might notice me snoring in my cube, so I save that for dinner. The IPA is a little malty but appropriately hard-hopped. Lovers of porter will also find a variety of darker brews.

The food is decent, especially if you stick to the pub faire. I like the crispy chicken salad and fried calamari, for instance, but most of the regulars swear by the burgers.

In the Bay Area south of San Francisco there is no better brewpub than Steelhead, and the next good one, Faultline, is at least half an hour south in Sunnyvale...and it's closed on weekends!

Burlingame is it, don't miss the exit.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good Good Great Good

Establishment: Sequoia Brewing Company, Fresno, CA

Having previously slammed Fresno as nothing more than a gas stop on the way to King's Canyon or Yosemite, I have to update my opinion of the San Joaquin's capital city. I discovered the Tower District in the old part of downtown, and with it this fine brewpub. Don't plan on driving around Fresno looking for it without a map, if you aren't a local.

I of course had the IPA, which was well worth more than one. There was also a Corona-Mex style which my table mate also enjoyed. And a doppelbock weighing in at 9.2 which I had to pass on due to the long cross-valley drive ahead.

Food very decent, I had the chicken caesar salad and some herb-fried calamari, very tender and crispy.

Even if you aren't in the mood for brewpub fare, stop in to Sequoia for a couple and then head to one of the many restaurants now open nearby in the Tower Dirstrict. Where else are you going to go in Fresno?


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good Good Great Good

Establishment: BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse, San Mateo, CA

I work nearby so I eat here about every week. This BJ's has been open less than a year. BJ's beer selection is wide but watery. The best bet are the seasonal specialties, the IPA in particular. On a regular basis, I go for the Pale Ale or the Porter, though both are a little light for my taste. The staff are always enthusiastic at BJ's and that does count for something. The overall ambience is of a large sports bar restaurant with trendy and hip female pop singers blaring.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Great Great Great Great

Establishment: BrewBakers, Visalia, CA

I was coming home from Sequoia Natl Park today and had to pass through Visalia en route across the San Joaquin Valley to the Bay Area. I had seen a small ad for this place in a free flyer in the park, and thought, "fresh Visalia?"

My desperation overcame my snobbery and how glad I am of that. I will NEVER disparage Visalia again (but Fresno, you are still on the hook).

The IPA was the best California IPA I have had outside of the Anderson Valley, where Hop Ottin comes from. Brewbaker has HOPPY IPA with none of the cloying maltiness of some wannabes, and weighs in at an honest 6.3. If you want malty beer, get a red something. Brewbaker had that too, along with a full range from Pale to Marzen. They were out of stout, but it was in the kettle brewing. Wouldn't have mattered, I was stuck on the IPA from the get go.

The blackened salmon caesar was HUGE and with fresh valley lettuce, spicy croutons, and homemade garlic dressing, not to be beaten.

If you are stuck on Highway 99 going from Bakersfield to Sac-town, there is hope, traveler. it's on Main Street, Visalia.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall

Establishment: Florida Tap Room, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Alas! Based on these reviews, and having been left aghast on previous visits to the Lauderdale area at the putrid water these folks will swill as "brew", I drove 30 minutes to get to the Tap Room. The outcome: destroyed a month ago by hurricane Wilma. Did I think to call ahead? Of course not, I was like a zombie who smelled living brains. Oh well, only 3 more days here then I can go back to northern California where the IPA is bitter.


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