Beerchasing in California – Part I – Sacramento

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A somewhat spontaneous trip to Yosemite National Park gave us the chance to visit a few interesting bars to add the Thebeerchaser’s inventory.   Our first night in Ashland, Oregon – near the California border- gave us the opportunity to check out what turned out to be one of Oregon’s finest micro-breweries – the Caldera Brewing Co.   Check out the post dated 10/24/16 for a full review which this outstanding Oregon business deserves.  https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/10/24/ashlands-caldera-brewery-now-thats-a-fine-kettle-of-beers/

The next day we stayed in Sacramento – right in the downtown core near the California State Capitol Building and a mall-type development which is in full swing and will enhance the Central Business District.

Thebeerchaser looking a little skeptical based on the name......

Thebeerchaser looking a little skeptical based on the name……

On a walk to explore the area and pick a restaurant for dinner, we came across “Dive Bar” on K Street.   Now Thebeerchaser loves watering holes with this description although my spouse, Janet, has an aversion to this type of bar.  2016-09-28-19-47-01

 

 

That said, it became obvious that Dive Bar had none of the characteristics of saloons in this hallowed category.  This quote from a Thrillist.com article entitled, “Signs You’re in a Fake Dive Bar” is worth considering:

“If a place is actually calling itself a dive by name, that’s a surefire sign that some hipster who’s never been in a real hole wanted to open a bar, but didn’t want to invest in a vacuum or nice lights. Lots of ferns, though. There’s always money for ferns. Most light should be provided by slightly broken neon signs, not something weird like an Edison bulb or, ugh, a window.”

Nor your standard dive-bar taps.....

Nor your standard dive-bar taps…..

This “dive” bar had only four beers on tap – all micro-brews with one from Oregon……but none of which bore the moniker PBR or Budweiser – standard brews for dive bar regulars. (I tried the tangy Otra Vex by Sierra Nevada Brewing and Janet, the Falcon Lagger  and we were pleased with both brews although more expensive than a PBR….

So I asked bartender,Jason, how the title of the bar was derived.   He immediately responded, “Take a glance upward.  You see that 7,800 gallon aquarium.  (To put in perspective, that would be about 1,006 kegs of beers…..) A few nights each week, we also have “mermaids” swimming in that tank.  Now do you understand how we got our name.?” 

When I say "dive", I mean literally.....

When I say “dive”, I mean literally…..

As further evidence their website states, “A typical dive bar denotes a few things in one’s mind: no frills, approachable, slightly dangerous, and a leftover relic from another era.

This version has refurbished brick walls, dark wood and upholstery and is a version of a bar from a different era: but with all brand new accoutrements.

The equivalent of 7,006 kegs...

The equivalent of 7,006 kegs…

 

Dive Bar’s lighting consists of Dimmable White LED flex tape, installed on each shelf, lighting the natural brick on the walls. The lighting systems were designed by Anthony Aristo of Lumatech Architectural.” 

Dive Bar also has an Executive Chef and you can pay extra for VIP privileges…..Case closed!!

Do you think you would see this kind of lighting and décor in a true dive bar?

Do you think you would see this kind of lighting and décor in a true dive bar?

There were no mermaids swimming that evening and it was a quirky but somewhat sterile, bar although based on social media, it is a hot spot in Sacramento night life.

Dive Bar has a head mermaid and mermaid trainer and you can even hire the  mermaids for your own party:

“Stunning Professional Mermaids and Mermen with years of swimming and underwater performance experience are available to enchant your guests with their playful spirits, beautiful a capella siren songs, water performance, prop work and so much more!”       Check out their website: https://www.gigsalad.com/dive_bar_mermaids_sacramento1

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Non-descript and boring exterior, but worth going inside..

Dinner that night was at Blackbird Kitchen and Bar a small restaurant/bar with a non-descript exterior, but with fifty beers on tap and a happy-hour fried chicken special that was outstanding.

A lot of California beers on tap and good Happy Hour food specials

A lot of California beers on tap and good Happy Hour food specials

We sat at the bar and our friendly server,  Dave, explained that they focus on local beers with 20 of these on tap.

Janet drank wine and I had a memorable  Double Down Imperial Red from Wildcard Brewing in Redding, California.

Then an after-dinner drink at Craft HF (Hock Farm Craft and Provisions) – one of the Paragary Restaurant Group’s establishment. (Fourteen in Sacramento)  This was a spacious bar with modern décor and an ample up-scale restaurant area adjoining.   Bartender, Blake, served us as we sat at the bar and was quite a marketing asset for the venue.   He was enthusiastic about their inventory of beer which we were surprised did not include any draft beers although they had a very robust collection of bottled and canned brews – most notably from California breweries.

2016-09-28-17-05-15He also talked about their specialty gin drinks and exotic cocktails, but we stuck to beer and had an “interesting” bottle of Briny Mountain Gose from  Anderson Valley Brewing in Boonville, CA:  “………boasts a thirst-quenching tartness that is perfectly balanced by subtle watermelon flavors and aromas.  Gentle additions of sea salt create a refreshing harmony between the acidity and fruity sweetness leading to clean, dry finish.”  (Who writes this stuff????)

Slick, but no beers on tap!

Slick, but no beers on tap!

In response to our question, “Why don’t you have any beers on tap?”   Blake replied very assertively,

“We believe in highlighting the unique taste of each beer.  The brewers specify the CO2 line pressure which should be maintained from the keg to the tap and it varies for each beer.  

Rather than compromise the taste by maintaining the same pressure for each draft beer, we opted to abandon drafts and offer bottles and cans.  We do have wine on tap directly from kegs because we go through enough wine each day in order not to compromise the product.”

Blake - nice guy, but explanation on taps is puffery..

Blake – nice guy, but explanation on taps is puffery..

(I checked with a reliable source who is an expert on breweries and he debunked that explanation as “blowing hot air.”

“After a short distance through the hose, drinkers cannot discern any difference based on the C02 pressure employed.”

Then back to the Marriott for the night before driving the rest of the way to Yosemite.  We did not have a drink there, but the hotel bar looked kind of interesting – at least as far as hotel bars go…… 2016-09-28-20-16-40

 

 

And one other interesting sidelight.  We were struck by the number of persons who had parkas or insignia with the Navy’s Blue  Angels in the hotel lobby.  Being a Navy veteran and having seen the Blue Angels fly when I was a NROTC midshipman in college, I was interested.

And we discovered on that Wednesday night that the prestigious aviation group was performing at an air show in Sacramento that weekend.  The Navy personnel were all very polite and looked sharp and they had designations ranging from “Maintenance” to “Air Frame” to “Logistics,” etc. (we did not see the actual pilots).  Given the large number of both male and female personnel who were obviously part of the contingent, made me curious and I did a little more research.

The Blue Angels - awe inspiring but raise some questions...

The Blue Angels – awe inspiring but raise some questions…

In these days of federal budget constraints, it’s probably fair to raise the question as to whether the annual budget outlay is worthwhile in light of other priorities.   According to Wikipedia (which admittedly may not be the most reliable source, but okay for a blog about bars…) the annual budget is $37 million although it begs the question, what does include or not include.

For example, a thought-provoking opinion piece from the Pensacola New Journal, entitled “Cut the Blue Angels from Federal Budget” authored by the son of a Navy captain who is also the brother of a naval aviator, asserted that based on the cost, the safety record and the environmental issues, the program should be discontinued.  He estimates that if accounting for all costs and amortizing lost aircraft over the years, the true figure approximates $200 million annually.

Wikipedia states that as of 2006, twenty-seven of the 262 Blue Angel pilots have died in air show crashes or training accidents.   The opinion piece above was prompted, in part, by the June, 2016 Blue Angel crash and death of Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, in an airshow.

Something to consider, but we left Sacramento before the air show and headed for Yosemite National Park.  Stay tuned……

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The Half Dome at Yosemite

The Half Dome at Yosemite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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