MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2015
To kick off the 2015-16 auto show season, work assigned me to Sacramento, October 16th-18th. A colleague recommended that I make a visit to “Old Sac” (lol) to get an awesome experience in Sacramento, but sadly: time and transportation did not allow me the opportunity to make it to that part of town. Still, I had the chance to check out a few beer places and get some good grub.
I have to admit that, while it was a great trip, I wasn’t BLOWN AWAY at any point. Since my travel was limited, I will not use this experience to assess the entire city. The reason I even mention the “wow”-factor-absence, is because it explains my lack of photos.
Lesson learned to make myself snap away, regardless of experience. I am new to this travel blogging, and now my amateur e-journalist is exposed. Moving on…
Being the beer-lover that I am, most of my interests focus around beer-oriented establishments. Breweries take a priority over alehouses, but I am happy to go anywhere that serves local brews.
The first night that I went out, one of my co-workers (Lina) was down to accompany me for the entire beer adventure, but I also managed to entice another co-worker (Kiana) to at least join us for the food portion. From my list of places that I starred on Google Maps, we agreed to grab a bite at a place called Pangaea Bier Cafe.
I was intrigued because it was described as serving elevated food and local ingredients, all with a big emphasis on beer and food pairing. Although it is not a brewery, upon walking in, the place smelled like they did indeed brew beer. It was that damp, yeasty type of smell that will engulf the foyer to my personal gates of heaven.
It is quaint, but they squeezed in several large picnic tables that encourage people to "come together.” Get it? Pangaea?
It is a counter-service type of restaurant, so you order at the register, then seat yourself at one of the mentioned picnic tables. They also have a bar, which seats 6-8 (that is pulled from my memory— it may be more or less, but the bottom line is that it is limited). Chalkboard menus on the wall list the rotating beers, and one of the unexpected delights for me, was that they had a separate SOUR menu. Giddy-up.
Attached to the cafe, is a bottle store with beers from around the world. In there, another small bar is present to sit and drink and get lost in beer-topia.
Earlier in the day, I had a huge lunch, and I wasn't in the mood for anything with meat in it, so I ended up being a picky eater once we actually got there, and decided to have a liquid dinner of beer only. However, I ended up tasting some of my co-workers’ foods. Kiana ordered Habanero Honey Wings, and Lina ordered Mac & Cheese and a Caesar Salad. The wings were presented beautifully: a juicy orange hue with a complimentary slaw salad in the middle. All the food had nice flavors, but nothing for me want to elaborate upon. Of course, when Lina became full, I didn’t hesitate to finish her salad. So much for liquid dinner.
Speaking of, I started off with an “Autumn Maple,” by The Bruery, because… ’tis the season.
I’m normally a big fan of The Bruery’s creations, and this one was ok. Lina was open to exploring beer, so I recommended Huyghe’s “Delirium Tremens,” which she liked. Kiana wasn’t too excited about beer, but she was a good sport and had a sample of a coffee stout. But a sample is where it ended.
While we were eating, the sous chef offered to buy us a round of beer. To that same note, customer service was awesome! When we walked in, the beer menu was quickly pointed out, and a paper food menu handed to us, with an explanation that it was “order-here-and-seat-yourselves” place. Staff was also patient while we perused beer, and offered beer samples. And although it was counter service, a runner/busser was on top of bringing the food and clearing the plates.
Taking up the offer from the sous chef, I dove into the sour menu. The “Pumpkin Sour” by Almanac Beer Co. caught my eye due the fact that it is barrel-aged in both bourbon and wine barrels. It was pretty nice— just a hint of pumpkin and really got the wine on the back end. Even Kiana liked it! I opted for a half pour because it was one of the higher-priced beers, and I didn’t want to be an asshole, but also because I was in charge of driving the rental car that night.
I’m glad I had some Cali beer there, because I didn’t have any beer-gasms at our next location. We dropped off Kiana, then headed to the brewery that was closest to the hotel: Rubicon.
A nice, clean place, but most of their menu consisted of pales and IPA’s (at that moment). That certainly is not a negative quality; this was my own personal disappointment since I have a tongue for the more malty or yeasty beers. Pushing my preferences aside, Lina and I decided to split a flight so that we could taste a few different beers, and I could still be responsible for driving.
We ordered “Monkey Knife Fight,” “Rosebud,” “First Contact,” & “‘The Antidote’ Smash Ale with Galena Hops.” My favorite was “Rosebud,” and “Monkey Knife Fight” was the runner-up, while Lina enjoyed “First Contact.” As I mentioned, my palette gravitates towards malt and yeast flavors; I’m working on appreciating hops more. So, for that reason only, I’m not singing from the rooftops about this brewery. But still a good time.
I could have SWORN that I took photos of the brewery, because I do this at every brewery. But... nothing on my phone. So, I fucked up. As I said before, I won't make that mistake again.
For our last night in town, we had about 7 people from my work team that all wanted to go out, and we all agreed on a place called Iron Horse Tavern. Although I hadn't come across it in my own research of places, it had a selection of craft beers and the food looked promising.
We were told there would be a short wait for the table, so I grabbed a DIPA (double IPA, aka imperial IPA) from the bar, called "Hoptologist," by Knee Deep Brewing. I'm serious that I want to start loving hops, so DIPAs are great because there are more hops (but also more malt).
No sooner than I finished paying for it, our group was seated. Between all of us hemming-and-hawing over the menu, our waiter was super patient and informative. A few co-workers and I began with a Garlic Shrimp pizza, as an appetizer, which was yummy. For my main entree, I went with their Tavern Fried Chicken ‘n Pancakes:
I relish in trying new things, and although I can get chicken and waffles almost anywhere, I haven't yet paired chicken with ANY sweet breakfast batter, and pancakes do offer more of a soft texture that I think would go better with crispy chicken. Not to mention that the item was served with bourbon-jalapeno syrup and pecan butter. "You had me at bourbon."
To pair, I chose a brown ale from their menu, which they happened to be out of stock, but the replacement was serendipitously good. And it was served in a hefeweizen glass so it was more than I expected in amount, in addition to flavor. A damn good beer, and it did indeed pair well with my food. I was very fulfilled with both Cali beers during this visit, so fuck yeah.
Iron Horse Tavern was definitely a solid spot and everyone's choices looked awesome. One of their menu options is a "mac-and-cheese bar," where you can choose 3 mini skillets, from a sub-menu of 9 different macs. Lina actually ended up opting for that, and it looked pretty incredible.
Afterwards, the group dispersed , but Lina and I walked down the street to a cocktail bar, The Shady Lady Saloon:
A perfect place to cap off the night, for its selection of craft cocktails, the jazz band in the corner, and the modern-speakeasy decor.
I had their Victoria and their Spitfire cocktails. Both delicious, and fresh ingredients.
If I hadn't had so much food at Iron Horse, I would have had another, but I don't think there was anymore room in mah belly. I had a good buzz going, and we Uber'ed back to the hotel.
There were a few Sacramento places that I wanted to visit, but during the short, weekend stay, I couldn't get to it. I am certain that there is way more to discover, and if I ever make it out that way again, I am determined to find that special place that I will forever associate with Sacramento.