Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Dive Bar

Living in Northern California we are surrounded by shiny things and upscale places. We're fortunate, at PBN, to live in such close proximity to a wonderful wine and beer bar we have enjoyed supporting for the last year or so - a new place that looks like a good upscale bar should, clean, fashionable and comfortable. For wine lovers this is place offers everything you'd want from a bar so close the some of the world's best wineries. For beer lovers, an oasis of shockingly good beer.

There is a catch in all this though. Recently they bumped their price per pint up to 5 bucks. Not really a huge deal, as they serve great beer and generally feel as though it is worth it. However, in the last few weeks we have rediscovered something that was almost lost in this region (lost to beer enthusiasts, anyway)... the local Dive Bar.

You know about the Dive Bar, every city has them. Dark, dank, a bit sticky under foot, unkept and generally with an over-talkative barkeep more interested in the news than the current sporting events. These places have a history, generally speaking, and are rough enough around the edges to week out the more upscale clientèle. You've been here, right? Every beer enthusiast should find their way to a Dive at least once in their life, because they generally serve a good beer or two, something you won't find in the shiny bar down the street.

Our local dive bar has many great beers: Racer 5 (Bear Republic), Brother David (Anderson Valley's Dubbel), Alley Cat Brown (Lost Coast), Kiltlifter (Moylan's) and a few more. Now, the reason we're rediscovering this place has mostly to do with our love of Racer 5 on tap. You see, the upscale bar down the street serves Racer 5 and that's a pretty big draw for us - again though, at 5 bucks a pop. Racer 5 at the Dive Bar? $2.75 per pint.

And herein lies the beauty of the Dive Bar. Good beer and a great price. Now, I don't begrudge a new business owner for raising his or her prices, I understand that new real estate has a higher premium than the old establishments in the wrong part of town. However, as a markedly middle-class beer enthusiast, price is a consideration. Don't get me wrong - if there was no craft beer in the dive, we wouldn't be there, regardless of the price of beer. But, with the availability of fine crafted beer at both locations, can you blame a guy for saving a couple bucks per pint?

I don't know what the Dive Bars are like around the country, but I have been to enough on the West Coast to realize they're worth. There are two such bars that are pretty much world famous, the Toronado and Horse Brass. Both a bit rough around the edges, both with more history and character than one person could ever know - both must see destinations for the beer enthusiast.

So, if you have a local place you haven't been to, don't be afraid to stop in and see what they've got on tap, you may be surprised. In the last few days I have found two such bars in the Sacramento area - and each was a pleasant discovery worth the effort.

- Rick

Dive Bars Visited?
Roseville - Main Street Brewery (not really a brewery)
Sacramento - O'Mally's Irish Pub (really an Irish Pub)