Downtown Bar Taps Bursting With Craft Brew
All photos by Lisa Duncan Photography
The beer scene in Benicia is undergoing a renaissance, with craft beers all over town. These also include hyper-local beers from Heretic Brewery, Mare Island Brewery and Davis’ Sudwerk, which can be had at Benicia’s watering holes. Plenty of other great beers and ales from California and beyond can be found at places whose owners are in the know. Some have more than others, but each spot is worthy of spending some time sampling excellent microbrews with friends. You won’t go hungry while you sip—Benicia’s many restaurants are within steps of the bars (and some are inside restaurants that serve up great pub grub).
Rookies Sports Bar and Grill
Rookies is your quintessential big, boisterous sports bar with college-aged young people mixing it up. But Rookies has upped the ante with an exciting 32 rotating beers on tap, including an incredible number of IPA’s—fifteen to be exact. I suggest sampling the Racer 5 Double IPA, the Elysian Space Dust IPA (just for the name, if nothing else) and the Anchor Blood Orange IPA. With these offerings, who needs a Bud Light?
321 First Street
The Chill is Benicia’s special place to relax and…chill. Still, you might want to relax instead with a fine craft beer. Try their excellent Ballast Point Sculpin’ Grapefruit IPA, the Drake’s Dry 1500 IPA or the unusual Firestone Brewery Luponic Distortion Revolution No. 005. It’s a memorable beer and a must for hop-heads.
362 First Street
Bruehol Brewing Tap Room
Bruehol Brewing’s new tap room in the Industrial Park brings back over a hundred years of brewing history to the Benicia scene. And they’ll be happy to tell you all about it when you visit, so get ready for a delicious American Pale Ale or their oh so chocolaty Black Ale. Bruehol beers are also poured at Rookies, Cullen’s Tannery Pub, The Chill and Lucca.
4828 East 2nd Street
Cullen’s Tannery Pub & Saloon
Cullen’s Tannery Pub and Saloon is Benicia’s Irish inspired, no nonsense bar, chock full of Steampunk knickknacks. This small, but interesting bar exudes an artfully fun atmosphere and offers a small selection of local beers, including Bruehol.
131 First Street
Lucca Bar and Grill, Lucca Beer Garden
Lucca has one of the top lists around with 20 beers on tap. Don’t miss such notables as Boont Amber, Hop Stupid and Moylan’s Kiltlifter, and even Belching Beaver Brewery. They even serve Mare Island Brewery’s Hydraulic Sandwich IPA, proving that’s there’s a sandwich in every beer. At Lucca Beer Garden, behind the restaurant’s bar, they are cooking up some tasty barbecue (yes, it’s finally happening in Benicia). Try Lucca’s tasty brisket.
439 First Street
The Rellik Tavern
The Rellik Tavern continues it fine tradition of fine wine and spirits in its sophisticated atmosphere, by providing many wonderful beers on tap. After all, who would have Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Lagunitas’ "Little Sumpin, Sumpin,” Trumer Pils and Duvel all on draft? Impressive. There are many other superlative beers to sample upon further visits to Rellik.
726 First Street
Bottom of the 5th Sports Bar & Grill
Even The Bottom of the Fifth has some choice taps to sample including 21st Amendment, Stella Artois, Evil Heretic and Sierra Nevada Summer Ale on draft, going down well with a friendly game of billards. Could be worse.
498 Military East #A
Sailor Jack's Restaurant and Bar
Sailor Jack’s is better known as fine dining/casual spot with marvelous views, but fear not, they have a few fantastic craft beers to sample. First up is Green Flash, a West Coast IPA from San Diego. It’s a terrific, well-crafted beer and one of my all-time favorites. Jacks’ also carries the always delectable Trumer Pils, Full Sail and Heretic’s Evil Twin. Jack London would approve.
123 First Street
The Loft Wine Bar & Restaurant
A contemporary atmosphere pervades The Loft Wine Bar and Restaurant where hard-to-find wines are paired with American small plates in this urbane bar with a water-view patio. Currently on tap is Kronenbourg1664 Blanc, Six Rivers Brewery Macadamia Nut Porter, Stone Delicious IPA and Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ ale.
280 First Street
Union Hotel Restaurant & Bar
The taps at the Union Hotel Bar and Restaurant, featuring huge historic stained glass windows that lend a casually elegant vibe, include some fine choices that rotate monthly. In June, Owner Gabby Oviedo was featuring Goose Island IPA, Widmer Hefeweizen, Firestone Double Barrel Amber Ale, and Modelo Especial to pair with menu special fish tacos.
401 First Street