March is here and between the beginning of spring, St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness, there will be plenty of celebrating going on around town. Fortunately, locals have lots of fun options, fresh beers and places to enjoy.

Rookies Sports Bar & Grill is the place to catch March Madness hoops (along with Sharks, Warriors and pre-season baseball). With 33 screens and 32 beers on tap, you’ll certainly find a game—and a pint, to enjoy. Local faves include Racer 5, 805 and Lagunitas IPA. The mahi-mahi fish tacos offer a fresh alternative to basic pub grub, but Rookies has that in spades as well, with excellent burgers and fries, salads and sandwiches.

Lucca Bar and Grill is reopening its popular outdoor beer garden on March 10 with live music coming soon. As for beer, they offer a good variety of tap beers, including Mare Island IPA and the delicious 805 Blonde Ale from Paso Robles. Lucca’s happy hours are  3-6pm weekdays. Other specials, like the popular “Bucket of Mary’s Fried Chicken” run on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and the Lucca Burger is a crowd-pleasing favorite.

The Rellik Tavern will be making a big deal out of St. Patrick’s Day, with some great Irish bands and six Irish Beers on draft. Try the Killkenny Cream Ale or tasty Smithwicks—so good on draft. (Sorry, no green beers at The Rellik). They’ll also be serving corned beef and cabbage. This place has some serious beers at all times on tap including: Lagunitas’ Little Sumpin Sumpin, Duvel from Belgium and Sparks, Nevada based Social Fermentation, a fine New England-style IPA. Happy hours are 4-6 or 6:30pm weekdays.

Nine Zero Seven is a local Mexican-influenced restaurant, bar, and social lounge. Lots of fun, they feature Taco Tuesday every week, and May the Fourth Be with You—a tribute to Star Wars—on March 4. They also feature Salsa nights, and live music on occasion. Loved the outdoor patio.  Great burgers too, and beers on tap.

Lisa Duncan Photography

Mare Island Brewing Company Coal Shed
brewing and event facility

Nearby, the Mare Island Brewing Company is going strong, and open every day from 11:30am–10pm.  Their popular taproom, loaded with history, is located right in the Vallejo Ferry terminal.  Favorites include the Saginaw Golden Ale and the Hydraulic Sandwich IPA. Their beers are available in many fine spots. Try the beer flight with a marbled rye pastrami sandwich. And their new brewing facility and taproom, called the Coal Shed, is located on Mare Island, right across the river from the ferry building, and available for groups and special events.

The Chill, featuring casual fun, really is a “chill” place, and is usually a low-key spot to enjoy fine beers (and wines). They feature a few excellent ones from Ballast Point (San Diego), Anchor Steam, Heretic (Fairfield) and Firestone. The Chill recently teamed up with its neighbor, Heritage Pantry & Spice Catering, to serve up specialty cheese boards and charcuterie/cheese sandwiches.

Of course, Bruehol Brewing, Benicia’s very own brewery (4828 East Second Street, Benicia) is expanding its beers and its hours. I enjoyed their Old Capitol Pilsner and the delightful z340 IPA.  Besides sampling at the taproom, their brew is tapped at Cullen’s Tannery Pub, Lucca’s and The Chill. The new hours of operation are Wed.-Fri., 4-8pm, Sat. 12-8pm, Sun.,12-6pm.

Get out and enjoy some great beers this spring and sample them on tap, the way the brew masters designed them. They taste much fresher and tastier than the bottled beers we buy at the store. And the best thing for us in Benicia, is that you don’t have far to travel.