By William Brand
Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 at 10:30 pm in Uncategorized.
I promised in my column today in the San Jose Mercury News , I’d post my notes on good pubs in Santa Cruz. So, here we go…
Santa Cruz is a wild mix of UC Santa Cruz students, high tech workers from Silicon Valley and refugees from the more urban parts of the Bay Area, among others. So there are lots and lots of bars and in the last couple of years, I’ve visited a lot of them. Many are very welcoming, cozy interesting, well-run places.
But the problem with many is their beer lists are unimaginative and tend toward corporate. Bud/Miller/Coors and their light derivatives, InBev’s Stella Artois, Guinness Stout (nothing wrong with Guinness, but it’s very common and far from unusual.
These are bars whose idea of a craft beer lineup is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and maybe New Belgium Fat Tire. Nothing wrong with either. I love Sierra Nevada. But again, they’re common.
Anyway, I’ve found three really good spots, pubs with owners who are interested in good beer, stock a great selection of craft beer and imports and tend to stock seasonals as they come in and new beers.
One caution. This definitely is a starter list. The greater Santa Cruz area is fairly large. What have I missed? Let me know. Post a comment here; let’s talk.
- The Red Room, 1003 Cedar St., Santa Cruz 95060, 831-426-2994. There are two bars, one downstairs is small, has a modest beer list and is loved by regulars. My son, Zach, a UC Santa Cruz graduate, loves the place. Upstairs, on the other hand, is quite posh, lots of red velvet and looks like a modern idea of a Victorian house of ill repute. It’s dimly lit and comfortable and apparently fills up late in the evening.
But ahh, the beer; there are 30 beers on tap, hard-to-find brews like Allagash Curieux Rodenbach Grand Cru, Brother Thelonious from North Coast, La Choffe (Belgium), Drake’s Imperial Stout.
They also have local Santa Cruz beers including Siamese Twin Belgian-Style Double and Golden State Ale, a Belgian-style spiced golden ale with poppy seeds from Uncommon Brewers. Also a large, bottled beer list.
- 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall Restaurant & Pub, 110 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 95060, 831-459-9999. They usually have 46 beers on tap, including beer from Santa Cruz Ale Works, little seen beers from Sierra Nevada like the S.N. hefe, Trumer Pils, Bear Republic Racer 5. The owner, Jahan Jaferian opened the pub-restaurant in 1991 and it has many fans. I’m one.
The beer list may not be as impressive as the Red Room, but it’s a pleasant place with a few outside tables, perfect for an hour on a sunny, autumn afternoon.
- 515 Kitchen & Cocktails, 515 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, 831-425-5051. The speciality in this place is wine and fancy cocktails. But the beer list is interesting and changes a lot; there are nearly 20 taps and another 20 or so beers in bottles. Consider the taps: Santa Barbara Golden Wheat, Brooklyn Brewing Summer Ale, Avery Mephistopheles Stout, Moonlight Brewing Bombay by Boat and Death By Taxes.
There’s an upstairs, outside patio and emphasis is on good food. It can be expensive.
OK posters, it’s your turn. Let’s list some pubs.