Sacramento’s craft beer scene continues to evolve and expand, but somehow, it’s the same businesses that get singled out for praise again and again.
Of course, much of that praise is deserved – when we’re not waiting in line for New Glory and Track 7 can releases or sampling the unique offerings at Pangaea and Final Gravity, we’re constructing flights at Fieldwork and Capital Hop Shop or making pilgrimages to Moonraker and Mraz.
But the Sacramento region has more all-stars than just those listed above. Here are five less-known beer spots that deserve more recognition:
Black Stallion Tap House & Saloon
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Tucked behind a tattoo parlor in an Orangevale strip mall, Black Stallion is a dank, old-school dive bar with a surprisingly smart and California-focused list of 16 taps that included beers by Solid Ground, Amador and Fieldwork when we recently visited.
They also offer affordable flights and a sour-heavy bottle selection, as well as discounted to-go cans from the likes of Revision and New Glory.
Blue Note Brewing Company and GoatHouse Brewing Company
Here are two slightly out-of-the-way breweries that don’t get enough credit for their consistency and quality.
Beers from farm-brewery pioneer GoatHouse rarely show up on draft lists outside of its converted-barn tasting room in Lincoln, but they are worth seeking out, as brewer Michael Johnson gets the best out of the hops grown on the property.
Brews by Woodland-based Blue Note are a bit more ubiquitous, especially its flagship milk stout Lucille, but the company is still unknown to many beer drinkers and that needs to change.
This Land Park favorite rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as Pangaea or Final Gravity, but the current owners have made Dad’s Kitchen an under-the-radar local beer destination since 2010.
Dad’s always offers several dozen craft beers in a variety of styles, and they always have a strong regional focus. Perhaps that’s why Dad’s has become a favorite with parents who might not feel comfortable taking the kids to a brewery.
Doyle’s Pub and Taproom
Often overshadowed by other Folsom taprooms such as Samuel Horne’s Tavern or Grist Beer Hall, Doyle’s boasts a marvelously curated tap list that blends local favorites like Berryessa and Mraz with international breweries like Evil Twin and Brasserie Dupont.
Located next to a western wear store, Doyle’s offers no patio, no trendy industrial vibe and no nonsense, but they always seem to have at least one or two Moonraker beers on tap (Citra Crush and the Altamont collaboration Kapt’n Kush on the day we visited), and that makes them a winner in our book.
Two Rivers Cider
Many craft beer aficionados hold their noses at cider, but they shouldn’t. With a thirst for experimentation and progression, Two Rivers veteran cidermaker Vince Sterne makes ciders that satisfy the adventurous and battle-tested palates of beer drinkers.
Sterne’s ciders are bone dry and relatively unsweet, and he’s always searching for fresh ingredients to flavor his bases, so fresh, seasonal flavors are consistently available. The relaxed, welcoming, garage-pub vibe of Two Rivers’ tasting room only adds to the appeal.
Beer of the Week
On New Year’s Eve, Track 7 celebrated its sixth anniversary by releasing a quartet of new beers, each one created by a different brewer. The styles included a double IPA, a triple IPA, a kettle sour and an Imperial Stout brewed with vanilla, cacao and Chocolate Fish coffee.
We enjoyed all four, but our favorite was Haze and Lupulin in Curtis Park (10.2 percent ABV), a juicy, murky, “Northeast-inspired” triple IPA crafted by Dan Rafferty, head brewer at the Curtis Park location.
Softly bitter citrus flavors of grapefruit juice and orange zest dominate the palate, eventually leaving a pleasantly pulpy aftertaste. Despite its double-digit ABV, this is a scarily crushable beer.
Daniel Barnes is a freelance writer, film critic, beer enthusiast and one half of the blog “His & Her Beer Notes.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.