Life by the pint
Throughout our recent pandemic summers, my favorite place to get a beer has been Tomales’ William Tell House—and I’m not writing this because of the valiant efforts of one of our ad reps to remind me that I once had a life and this is what I did with it a few times a month; I genuinely dig the place and have the receipts to prove it.
I would sit outside and try to ignore the Boomer-centric live music, which was always too loud, as if the musicians were vainly clinging to their youth and the adage that “if it’s too loud, you’re too old.” Gen X is here to tell you it’s both. Anyway, I’d enjoy a brew or two as the coastal breeze brought down the heat and the air quality index, which are often too high in Apocaluma. The alcohol percentage in our locally-made brews is also high, but I can live with that—until it kills my liver. Lagunitas Brewing Company seems to have recognized this and invented DayTime, a low-alcohol beer I’m presuming from the name, which is optimal for day drinkers.
I remember back in the go-to ’90s, when Lagunitas founder Tony MacGee told me that the craft beer market would someday overtake the foreign beer market. He was right; we’ve gone from global to local, but then the foreign beer market came back in the form of Heineken and overtook Lagunitas.
This was long before the scourge of overly hopped IPAs that are so strong that we’d be forgiven for confusing them with pine-scented floor cleaner. I’m not saying MacGee popped the cap on Pandora’s Bottle, but I know my first IPA—and that of my entire cohort—came from Lagunitas. I prefer a different kind of alphabet soup, the long-lost ESB or “Extra Special Bitter,” one of which was on the menu of Ray’s Delicatessen and Tavern for about 15 minutes, which were some of my favorite minutes spent in Petaluma.
I conducted an informal newsroom poll—meaning, I texted reporter Will Carruthers, “What’s your favorite beer?” to which he replied, “Hmm, I’ll go with HenHouse”—and confirmed my confirmation bias that local brews remain a dominant market force. This doesn’t explain why my own brother has a six-pack of Miller High Life in his West Marin fridge. It might be time to recalibrate his palate.
Here’s a fix—San Rafael’s Pond Farm Brewery is celebrating Oktoberfest on Oct. 2 and 3. The focus is lagers, of which there will be five on tap. “The craft-lager style of beer is often underappreciated amidst the hype of IPAs, but among brewers it’s the gold standard. They take more time to make and are generally harder to execute, which is why many breweries shy away,” says Stephanie Martens, co-owner of Pond Farm Brewery.
Why be shy?