For beer lovers or friends, acquaintances and lovers of beer lovers, today Benicia is literally hopping with fine craft beers. In the recent past, boring, commercial American beers were the only thing available in Benicia bars, restaurant and pubs; one had to travel to San Francisco, Berkeley or beyond to sample quality brews. Fortunately that deficit has been remedied and now there are some excellent downtown spots making beer aficionados quite happy. Here are a few of the brightest beer spots in town.
Well known as the Benicia historic seafood-oriented restaurant at the edge of the First Street, Sailor Jacks pours some mighty fine beers. “We are in the glory days of beer, there has never been a time in history where more bright minds have dedicated their brain power and financial resources to make available the rainbow of styles we see today,” said Sailor Jacks’ executive chef, Maynard Oestreich, a beer enthusiast and historian. Sailor Jacks serves up four or five beers on draft plus a pretty fair selection of intriguing beers by the bottle, like Allagash White Ale—which goes delightfully with the fresh mussels on the menu. (Also great with Jack’s spicy Gumbo.) Oestreich says, “We will look back at the 2010’s like rock music fans look at the 1960’s—a time of emergence, experimentation and blazing new trails. I am glad I was alive to see it.” Wow, is he into it. Check it out.
Perhaps the best looking wine bar in town, The Chill is a place, well, to chill, have a drink and take in the cool ambiance. Serving a few draft beers plus some bottled choices, The Chill is an excellent spot to enjoy a cold Racer 5 while your oenophile friends prattle on about the grassy attributes of a Sauvignon Blanc or the ample tannins of a Dry Creek Zin. Still, for the great vibe and attractive crowd, The Chill is certainly worth a stop on any Benicia Pub tour.
This boisterous bar, a hit with the younger set, is the place to catch a game, watch a fight or rock out with a couple hundred of your new-found buddies. A true sports bar, they sell plenty of mixed drinks and offer mostly commercial brews, but do have a few specialty beers, like Anchor Steam, on draft. Clean, well lit and comfortable, Rookies does its thing very well.
THE RELLIK TAVERN
The Holy Grail and by far the best beer bar in town, (and for miles around) The Rellik is to beer what San Juan Capistrano is to swallows. Not to lessen Rellik’s thoughtful wine list and serious top shelf liquor selection, but owner Delando Pegan has assembled a magnificent beer palace that demands return visits. With comfy leather chairs and couches, dark mood lighting, table service, live music and dozen or so fine beers on tap, The Rellik is just soooo inviting. “When I opened The Rellik it was with the philosophy to seek out breweries that make great beers and not great beer commercials. This is why you don't see Bud, Coors or Miller in our bar,” said Pegan. I recently sipped a Big Eye IPA then couldn’t decide between the Moylan’s Irish Red, a Brew Dog or my old favorite, Liberty Ale. “If you truly want the most interesting and just plain craziest beers in town, there is only one Rellik Tavern,” said Pegan, the proud owner. He’s right. Let the Benicia beer adventure continue.
123 1st Street
362 1st Street
The Chill on Facebook
321 1st Street
726 1st Street