Thursday, February 7, 2013


More evidence of surging craft beer interest in the peninsula area just south of San Francisco: THE ALE ARSENAL. This new bar is located in "downtown" San Carlos, a sleepy middle class suburb about 25 minutes south of SF. If good beer is now a hot draw in San Carlos, it's a hot draw just about everywhere, I reckon. I had an opportunity to drop by the place after work, on my own no less, for a couple of glasses of luscious ale, and figured you'd wanna get a full report.

The bar's certainly not set up wholly for the stereotypical beer dork. The best high-def TV I've ever seen was rotating between various NHL games - and we love pro hockey here at Beer Samizdat, so this was music to our eyes. Crowd was mostly young, as was the bar staff, with a stunning barkeeper who looked like she'd just stepped out of a Duran Duran video - which is not something one typically sees A.) in 2013, and B.) in a craft beer bar. Then again, take a look at the bar's dumb logo - very 1983. There was some "pick up" action going on to my left as well, a blind date that was turning flirtatious very quickly. I know I was supposed to be taking beer notes and watching hockey, but, well, you know.

The beer menu is a great mix of the hyper-local and the tried & true, broken helpfully down by style. Here's what Beer Samizdat tried:

101 NORTH BREWING - "HEROINE IPA" (pictured here): 101 North are also brand-new, straight out of Petaluma, CA in Sonoma County. This was my introduction to them, and lemme say I'm glad they're here. This is a simple and straightforward, pine-first IPA. Sharp, and satisfying, but not overly intense. The hop bites and lingers, but doesn't mess with one's ability to taste a burrito 10 minutes later. I know, because I checked. 7.5/10.

STRIKE BREWING - "IMPERIAL RED": From just down the 101 freeway in San Jose, Strike put together a very good pale ale I told you about here; so how could I resist their imperial red? It's smooth and malty, with very low carbonation and no head whatsoever. Caramel is there, but neither it nor the hops are all that sharp. In fact, everything's a little dulled beyond what I'd like, and I'd call this 6.5% abv beer an "easy drinker" - which was something of a surprise. A red, maybe not all that "imperial". 6.5/10.


bobulated said...

Dumb logo? 1983? Pin-up logos are all over and pin-up art and photography in general is at the height of hipster popularity. While it's certainly not Paul Rand or Milton Glaser, a pin-up, bomber art inspired logo is entirely appropriate for a brew pub with "arsenal" in the name.

Jay Hinman said...

Right, the logo would have been very appropriate in 1944, or in a 1983 Def Leppard video, but in 2013, putting a hot chick in a short skirt straddling a phallic beer bottle is like hanging a huge "Calling All Douches" sign up above your bar.

That's fine if that's the vibe they're going for, but also incongruous with treating modern craft beer with respect. A bar focused on Jagermeister shots and wet t-shirt contests, yeah, that logo makes sense.

And please note that I didn't even touch your "height of hipster popularity" comment.

bobulated said...

Lol, I'm sorry I didn't realize that the craft beer movement needed to be treated with such reverence and respect and I'm one of those guys who annoy people by correcting them when they claim Blue Moon or Shock Top are craft brews.
Just MHO, but I will accept the logo with the tongue in cheek humor I believe it was intended and be thankful another place that is at least attempting to truly care about beer has opened on the peninsula.