Craft Beer Blog: Silicon Valley Edition
I hate giving you all a peek behind the curtain like this, but I have to let you in on a little secret. My day is not 100% dedicated to bringing craft beer news, reviews and event info to the masses, while sipping great beers from all over the country.
In order to fund that, I have to work every now and again in the real world. I was sent up to the Silicon Valley late last week to do some IT consulting. I usually do this once or twice a year, and with very little time for play, I look for some way to please my craft beer sweet tooth.
The last few years, I’ve been stuck with going to Bevmo, and taking a few beers for my hotel room ice bucket. This time, I was unsatisfied with the notion the Silicon Valley is a craft beer wasteland, so I dug a little deeper. I got to check out these three places, and I was pretty pleased all and all.
Bobby’s Liquor in Santa Clara, CA – Because I already know what I would have found at Bevmo, I really wanted to see if there was a beer geeky bottle shop near by where I was staying in Sunnyvale. After doing a search on Google and Ratebeer, I found Bobby’s Liquor in Santa Clara. On their website, I found they carry some real heavy hitters and had to check it out. After popping it into my GPS, I was there within 10 minutes with work week traffic. My first reaction after pulling up: “I’m in the HOOD!” Bobby’s is in a real sketchy looking Vietnamese or Korean strip mall, with Adult Bookstores and laundry mats. I had no idea The Valley had a hood, but now I know. Upon entering, Bobby’s seemed like any old bodega liquor store, with beef jerky, air fresheners, blowup dolls (WHAT??) and lotto tickets. After heading towards the back, a bright light started to glow. Low and behold, Bobby had packed 3 or 4 fridges with heavy hitters, local hoppy beer, and other highly rated craft beers. Next to it, was a shelf of more heavy hitters including a few Fifty Fifty Eclipse bottles. The responsible side of me refrained from buying a $50 bottle of beer. The dude running the shop was really helpful, answered all of my questions, and even lent me a tulip glass to take back to my hotel room, so I could properly enjoy my beverages.
Devil’s Canyon Brewing in Belmont, CA – I’ve been tempted the last few times to visit Devil’s Canyon Brewing in Belmont, as it was always the closest listed brewery near where I work up there. The only problem is, they are a keg only production brewery, that is only open to the public the last Friday every month. Luckily, I was in town the last Friday of January. After asking a few locals, they encouraged me to check it out, as they always had a good time over there. So at 6:30pm, doors were open to the public. To the right of the brewery was a little outdoor beer garden set up with a bar and Mediterranean food being cooked up on the spot right next to it. I went right for their Full Boar Scotch Ale, and was in love. I got to meet a few of the staff members, and bumped into a cool dude I met the night before at Bobby’s Liquor (small world eh?). I got in the food line, which didn’t move, and wound up talking shop with my new buddy. By the time I got to the front of the line and got my food, I realized this beer garden was packed. Here is the scene: folks 21-45, couples, babies and dogs. Everyone was chill, and they had a band playing inside the brewery, with a bar set up for their mug club members. I’ve visited lots of So Cal breweries, and I think if they are allowed to run something like this, they should. This was much more fun then cramming into a garage. Because I had to drive home, I only had a few beers and scrammed with a great vibe.
FireHouse Grill and Brewery in Sunnyvale, CA – Not to be confused with Firehouse Brewing in San Diego or Fireman’s Brew in Woodland Hills, this is FireHouse Grill and Brewery. About a month ago, I noticed FireHouse being sold in bottles at my local Bevmo, and wondered who these guys were. After another check on Google, I found out this wasn’t too far from where I was staying. I took myself to a real uppity little stretch of town in Sunnyvale. I walked into what would be the equivalent of a sports bar or even a BJ’s. Ok, let me at the fresh local craft beer. I parked myself at the bar, and started trying what they had to offer. They had a nice American Pale Ale, a Belgian IPA I didn’t love, and they listed One Tun Imperial Stout. After having a half rack of ribs, I went for the Imperial Stout. Because these guys are fairly new to the scene, I didn’t have high expectations for this beer. This might be the way to go with all beer, because I was blown away by how good it was. I’d file this under the home run category for sure. I wound up watching a Strike Force MMA pay per view, which had MC Hammer and Hershel Walker on the same show, and sipped away on some fresh local beer. The bartender was nice, and the GM Leticia was sooooo nice. I wasn’t able to meet the brewer, but I will be sure to stop in again next time I’m in town.