Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

This post is adapted from a guest post I wrote about Sacramento Brewing for Things You Should Do. Sacramento Brewing, alas, is no more. However, its brewer, Peter Houey, opened his own brewery, Odonata Beer Co.

I have a theory about brewpubs based on a good amount of experience. Whether I’m traveling alone or with others, visiting a brewpub is always one of the highlights of my trip. Why is that, besides the fact that I’m a beer geek?

The first time I visited Sacramento was for a job interview. After an exhausting day, I ended up at Rubicon Brewing in midtown Sacramento. I sat at the bar, had a few great beers and met a bunch of regular customers who were not only interested in hearing about my day and possible move to Sac, but even invited me to a party the next night!

I’m not suggesting that you’ll get party invitations when visiting brewpubs, but that type of welcome is not surprising. Brewpubs are not like regular restaurants or bars. Why?

  • Beer people love to share their passion. We’re a friendly bunch, even the shy ones. Sit at the bar and talk to those around you about what they’re drinking. Ask for recommendations.
  • You might get a tour of the brewery. Sometimes tours are only offered during the day, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
  • Brewpub food is comfort food. You can always count on good burgers, sandwiches and fish and chips, although many brewpubs have more extensive menus.
  • Brewpubs are comfortable. They’re made for sitting around, talking and drinking beer. You don’t need to dress up to go there. People don’t go there to be seen. They’re there to enjoy a good brew, conversation and maybe some snacks or dinner to go with it.
  • Brewpubs are usually independently owned, not chains. They’re run by local folks using high-quality ingredients to produce an artisanal product, and they’re darn proud of it. Brewing is both art and science.

brewpubs craft beer

If you don’t usually frequent brewpubs, you might be confused about what to order given all the choices. Simple solution — ask if they have a sampler. A sampler contains small taster glasses of several styles. Another way to try more than one style is to order half-pints, if they are available.

Sometimes a blackboard will list all the beers on draft. You’ll notice that the beers will often have strange names. Brewers are funny like that. Usually a brewpub will only serve the beers they brew themselves. However, I’ve been to several that also offer guest beers.

ABV means alcohol by volume, pay attention to that especially if you’re driving. For comparison’s sake, a Budweiser has 4.9% ABV.

IBU or International Bitterness Unit is an indicator of how hoppy a beer will be. The hoppier a beer, the more dry or bitter it will be. A Bud has an IBU of 11 and a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale has 37.

If you are used to Bud or Coors, or if you have a preference for a certain type of beer, ask your server for  recommendations. If you’re not familiar with the  styles on offer — ask for a description or sample. Beer lovers enjoy answering questions about beer. Ask us!

Find out if there is a brewpub nearby. Support your local brewer!

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