One of the reasons Rubicon Brewing has been a fixture in midtown Sacramento since 1987 is because it produces consistently great beer. In fact, I just polished off a rather amazing Capricorn Black IPA (6.6 percent ABV), which marries the malt and body of a stout with the pleasing bitterness of a traditional IPA.
But Rubicon also strives to do things the right way when it comes to serving its award-winning beers at the pub by rolling out a concept called the “honest pint.”
In fact, owner Glynn Phillips and company have gone to great expense to make a point – buying an entirely new inventory of glassware with the Rubicon logo. One thing you’ll notice is that it’s a big glass, and there’s a measuring line for 16 ounces, allowing room for an aesthetically pleasing head.
All this, of course, suggests there is something dishonest about other pints at certain other places, which will remain nameless. In fact, it is well known in the industry that there is a glass called a “cheater pint” – it looks kinda-sorta like a pint glass but holds a couple of ounces less beer.
Rubicon has never stooped in that way. But now it is upping the ante with these new glasses.
Phillips, like most beer lovers, believes a head not only looks appealing but contributes to the taste of the beer itself by aiding in the release of carbon dioxide so that all those bubbles don’t mask the flavors on your palate.
Phillips said he got the idea for the “honest pint” after two visitors from England stopped by the pub recently and made a point that in the United Kingdom, a pint “had best be a pint,” including room for a head.
“I don’t know if that was urban legend or not, but I liked the idea,” Phillips said. “We wanted to have fun with it.”
The customers love it, though Phillips tells me some of them are now having to recalibrate what their limit is, due to the extra beer in the glass. This is a little different than the “Honest Pint Project” in Oregon that points out which pubs are serving the proper 16-ounce pours. Beer lovers in that state also have been pushing for an “Honest Pint Act” requiring pubs to use true pint glasses if they say they’re selling pints.
Across the river in West Sacramento, too much beer was hardly the issue at Bike Dog Brewing. After the fledgling microbrewery’s massive blowout grand opening Nov. 2, where way more people attended than anyone could have predicted, the brewery was all but out of beer by the following Saturday.
While the four owners were surely stressed at the shortage of inventory, they had to be thrilled by the turnout. I was there and was pretty thrilled myself. This kind of enthusiasm shows that people are eager to support new ventures and are excited about the explosion of new craft breweries in the area.
Congratulations to Bike Dog, which is open Fridays and Saturdays only. It will be up to speed with fresh beer by the time you read this.
Speaking of cool new ventures, we’ve been monitoring the progress of Der Biergarten, the coming-soon pub featuring German beer and, most interestingly, a structure built using repurposed shipping containers for the kitchen and restrooms. The actual drinking and eating will be in the open air.
I’ve seen these containers used in cutting-edge residential housing, but this is certainly something new to midtown. In person, the idea looks impressive. I encourage you to stop by 2332 K St. (next to the Golden Bear) to watch the build-out.
Kudos to owner Sean Derfield, who also owns River City Saloon in Old Sacramento, for trying something out of the box.
Where we’re headed: Sierra Nevada is opening a taproom/pub in Berkeley called Torpedo. We’ll make the road trip for a pre-opening event and report back on what we saw and tasted.
What we’re tasting: Heady Topper by The Alchemist in Waterbury, Vt. This is considered one the great double IPAs, with a smooth build of hoppy flavor without being jarring. Great depth and a lingering elegance to the whole thing. It comes in a can – and they encourage you to drink it straight from it. Thing is, it’s really hard to get and isn’t available for sale anywhere around here. So why am I telling you about it? In a future “Beer Runs,” I’ll be discussing the phenomenon of beer trading. If you covet something that hard to find here, go online and trade some beer geek for it.
Here’s the deal: Track 7 is taking sign-ups for its 2014 growler refill program. For $399, you can refill your growler (64 ounces) twice a week all year at the brewery. This is a win-win. The brewery gets cash up front it can use to grow. You get great beer throughout the year that really pencils out in your favor. Growler refills usually range from $12 to $20. If you maxed out your refills with the most expensive beer, you would eventually receive $2,080 worth of product. With the $16-per-growler IPA, you’d end up with $1,664 worth of pale ale – a healthy return on your investment. And while only one person is allowed to get the growler refilled, nothing prevents friends from chipping in on the overall price.