I've enjoyed Original Pete's pizza in my area for years; the crust, cheese and toppings all properly balanced. That said, this isn't a joint we hit up for sudsy refreshment -- at least it wasn't before we found ourselves at the Midtown location (on 20th and J).
We walked in the pizza restaurant and were immediately turned on by the warm, super-inviting bar made of stone with a wooden counter top. In fact we opted to go no further and staked our seats in front of the large flat-screen showing the Sacramento Kings battle valiantly, but to no avail. Behind the bar we could spy two beer-tap towers that each had six beers (that's 12 taps for those keeping score at home). On one tower were "standard" taps with the house brand - a pale ale and English IPA grabbed my attention. The other tower had Guinness and, read slowly now, Firestone Walker's Union Jack, Pale Ale, Double Barrel and the seasonal Oktoberfest. Are you kidding?!
I looked at the menu and realized this wasn't just an Original Pete's like I had closer to home, this was an Original Pete's "Brewhouse" (apparently the only one of its kind open right now, although their site says another will open soon in El Dorado Hills). Now I knew they didn't have a brewery in back and judging from the Firestone Walker taps, pictures of Matt hanging on the wall next to the brewery pictures, I was pretty certain I knew who was making their beer. Happily I found they too were fond of the Firestone Walker name, and on the inside of their menu they proudly admitted these beers with the Pete's name were brewed under the supervision and care of one of the world's top brewers (I'd be proud too, by the way).
With all the facts taken in it was time to get geeky about beer (OK, so I already had a pint in me by the time I found the FSW info in the menu). I feel like I shouldn't even have to say this, but the beers kicked ass. I won't get into full-on reviews here, but if you're the type of person who has the BJCP style guidelines on your iPhone or PDA, you could just read those while you're drinking these beers and simply check "yes" next to appearance, aroma, flavor, mouthfeel and overall impression. The shocker for me was how over-the-top enjoyable the Skinner's Horse IPA was -- the English IPA. The nose was bold with floral and cedary notes, it's flavor unashamed to settle in for the night with nutty sweetness and more floral qualities. What a gem of a beer this was, and at under $4 a pint I couldn't begin to complain. Of course I couldn't well leave without a pint of Union Jack, a beer that is quickly establishing itself as a "favorite" in my book.
There you are, a new-to-me watering hole that doesn't seem to get a whole lotta love on the interwebblogtubes. If you're in Midtown and need a quick pint, be sure to stop in and check it out on your own (feel free to let us know what you think). If you're in the mood for good pizza with friends while watching the game (whatever game that may be) sit in the restaurant area that is stocked with TVs that every seat can enjoy while taking on a pitcher or two.
I'd be remiss if I didn't show some fond appreciation for the man who turned me onto this little gem of a beer bar - Peter Hoey. Man, thanks!
You'll be interested to note that, according to Peter, there are frequent Cask nights here. I'm sure I'll be there sooner than later to see what this is all about.