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Marin County Brewpub Guide

Moylan's Brewery & Restaurant
Vintage Oaks Shopping Center
15 Rowland Way, Novato
415/898-4677 (HOPS)

Hours: Daily, 11:30 a.m. to midnight; Friday-Saturday, 11: 30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Credit Cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express
Parking: Limited but convenient

Beer
AT MOYLAN'S, where a boisterous appreciation of beer--in all its cold, foamy glory--hangs thick in the air like religion at a tent revival, there are eight beers on tap at any moment, with special seasonal brews rotated through when it strikes the brewmaster's fancy. A recent pilgrimage to Moylan's began with a sampler of eight 4-oz. shots (75 cents each). "A good, diverse range of beers," our group's amateur beer brewer remarked, going on to observe that all offerings tended toward the sweet side of the beer-tasting spectrum.

Especially tasty were the light and flavorful Wheatberry; the strong-flavored India Pale Ale; the rich, nutty Mt. Burdell; and the N2 Amber, a nitrogen-infused ale with a good balance of flavors and a spicy, complex finish. The stouts, however, were generally watery, lacking the muscular robustness that stouts require.

Seasonal: We liked the the sneak peek we were given of the brewery's naughtily-named Kilt Lifter Ale, an autumn delight just now being brewed. It's a rich, spicy, heady brew perfect for the pastoral sensory assault that is Autumn in Northern California.

Brewmaster: Paddy Giffen.

Take-out/Keg Availability: Select beers in bottles ($3-$5); all on-tap beers in half-kegs ($40-$45).

Food
OUT ON THE comfortably heated patio, we sipped and gobbled as the sun sank slowly and the baseball game played thoughtfully overhead. Running counter to the English pub decor, the food reflects a good old-fashioned American grub sensibility, featuring thick, juicy burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, and appetizers that--while delicious--tend to be fried. Cajun-style sautéed prawns ($8.95) were the big hit, plenty spicy and cooked to pop-in-your-mouth perfection. A mountainous helping of onion rings ($3.95) was hot, tasty, and fresh, and just this side of too-greasy, and the popular garlic fries ($3.95) were equally generous and garlicky enough to dissuade the interest of Dracula himself.

A baby spring mix salad ($5.95) was excellent, one of those everything-in-the-garden kinds of salads, with everything crisp and fresh. Moylan's chili burger ($6.95) came heaped with savory black-bean chili, mounds of melted cheddar, and chunks of crisp onion. Moylan's offers four wood-fired pizzas: the vegetarian, the meat-eater, the Hawaiian, and Ron's taco pizza. We tried the veggie, a delicious two-person pizza ($8.95) with a light and chewy crust that could have been eaten without toppings.

Service
OUR WITTY AND JOVIAL SERVER was more than committed to our enjoyment, was quick and capable, and demonstrated an aficionado's in-depth knowledge of Moylan's beers. When we asked a question he could not answer, he summoned the manager to our table within 90 seconds.

Ambiance
INSIDE MOYLAN'S cavernous interior, the decor has the look of an English pub during a beer-can collectors' convention. Owner Brendan Moylan's eye-popping collection of brew cans from around the world is displayed on the soaring rafters overhead. There are dual televisions near the bar for sports fans, and a pleasant outdoor patio, heated at nights.

Din: In the evenings the place becomes rather noisy but hardly deafening, exuding a happy, partylike feeling.

Restrooms: The men's has a bare-bones interior, giving no reason to hang around longer than absolutely necessary, but with an overhead speaker so that ball games can be enjoyed even in the john. The women's is a bit better: the walls are tiled and they hold up a few paintings.

Non-drinkers: The food and meeting-place atmosphere more than balance Moylan's brewpub identity. There is no reason a non-drinker would feel uncomfortable sipping soda and espresso. Limited non-alcoholic beer list: Bitburger and Coors' Cutter.

Fizz
WHEATBERRY ALE, Kilt Lifter Ale. Excellent prices, good range of beers, great pizza, and an easygoing atmosphere.

Flat
WATERY stouts.
--D.T.

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From the Oct. 16-22, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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