Sometimes it’s difficult to head somewhere beyond my neighborhood, so to Mapquest my way to Sebastopol (60 miles north of San Francisco) is saying something. Eager to return to Hopmonk Tavern, which just opened this year courtesy of Dean Biersch (yes, of Gordon-Biersch fame), I first experienced it three weeks ago.
I love a good beerfest. A more obvious statement I cannot make. Simply titled "Beerfest," this small gathering on June 7 in Santa Rosa attracted an amiable 2,000 fest-goers and 35 mostly-local breweries from Russian River (Sonoma County) to Eel River (Humboldt County). The former’s rock star, Vinnie, was not spotted and I don’t know what Ted Vivatson from the latter even looks like. Advance tickets were $35 and all the food was included. Brilliant. So instead of shelling out an extra $10 for a gristle-heavy tri tip sandwich, we were treated to samples of pulled pork sandwiches, sausages, a buffet of fresh fruits and veggies and, from Hopmonk, spare ribs braised with what I'm pretty sure was a mole bbq sauce.
That is what enticed K’ro and I to hop over to check out the gastropub. Once there, we were rewarded with a dynamite beer list (I tried Mendocino's Spring Bock (hoppier than is usual for the style, and a definite winner), an inviting atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor seating, and a visit from Dean himself.
Yesterday was a scorcher in The City, so a cold brew was the order of the day. Of course, no sooner than we’d crossed the Golden Gate Bridge than we saw the thermometer climb from 88 to 101. Hooray for convertibles. Once we arrived, the idyllic patio was too good to pass up and, though an ale enthusiast, I promptly ordered a house lager, a Kellerbier, which is an unfiltered pilsner. Per-fecto when it’s in the 90s ‘neath a shady umbrella. Once again, there was great live music and the food was top-notch, too. (We shared a smoked tomato quesadilla, and that was just the starter.) And, lo and behold, another chance to enjoy the biergarten with Dean who, like the central water fountain, is a fixture here.
We mentioned seeing a crack-up billboard in The City, depicting his partner Dan Gordon with the slogan, “Never trust a skinny brewer.” Dan loves his work. In fact, Dean told us how Dan is presently in Taiwan at the opening of their first international brewpub. In trying to make sure Dean’s new venture operates smoothly during its infancy (it does. They have the best wait staff around, which isn’t ridiculously common throughout the Pacific Northwest) and keep his three kids in check to boot, he didn’t fly out for the Taiwanese launch.
G-B brewpubs are also open in 17 states and our nation’s capital. But there’s only one Hopmonk.