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Sonoma County Brewpub Guide

Third Street Aleworks
610 Third St., Santa Rosa
523-3060

Hours: Daily, from 11:30 a.m. until midnight; later on weekends (food is served until 10).
Credit Cards: VISA, MasterCard
Parking: Ample in city lot across the street

Beer
ONCE INSIDE this postmodern industrial establishment, you'll find something for every taste. Start with the Annadel Pale Ale, which is light, apricoty, and crisp. Or choose the Yankee Best Bitter (the name says it all), which offers a zesty British-style beer, rich in English malts. The Goat Rock Rye, plugged as light and smooth, disappointed us, tasting bitter and stale. On the other hand, the American Wheat (filtered or unfiltered) proved light and clean, while the American Dark Wheat had a nice aftertaste, not bitter, with good texture--thick and flavorful. The London Porter, which had a dull color of old dishwater and no head, also let us down. Still, my companion drank all of these without hesitation, and licked her lips, too. A 10-oz. glass runs $2.25; a pint is $2.75-$3; pitchers are $9-$9.50 (specialty beers are priced slightly higher). The sampler menu is recommended: 4-oz. servings for 75 cents each.

Seasonal: Fruity beers like the Blackberry Wheat and the high-octane Old Railroad Square Barley Wheat, and the tempting Cask Conditioned Real Ale (a cellared brew using the traditional English methods and served at cellar temperature).

Brewmaster: Grant Johnston.

Take-out/Keg Availability: 1-gallon ($14; $11 refills) and 5-gallon ($40-$45) containers.

Food
APPETIZERS RANGE from spicy buffalo wings and firehouse jambalaya to hush puppies (deep-fried spicy potato balls) with a potent Creole tomato sauce and the ever-popular Parmesan garlic fries. Organic green garden salad ($5.25) features (true to form) fancy local organic greens and a big ole honkin' side of gorgonzola that complements the dried currants, all splashed with a delicious, spicy balsamic vinegar-based dressing that goes well with beer. The curried chicken-salad sandwich in a pita wrap ($5.95) is a great break from your usual pub fare. Savory pizzas--for one ($5.75-$6.25) or for two ($9.25-$9.95)--feature such tasty toppings as grilled chicken, Kalamata olives, and spicy sausages (there's also a no-cheese vegetarian pizza). The beer-battered fish and chips are firm and fresh (try substituting mashed potatoes and gravy)--a solid standby. There always are a half dozen well-prepared specials on the board. Kid-friendly dishes available.

Service
UNEVEN at best.

Ambiance
ON WEEKEND NIGHTS, when the sound of live rock bands reverberates on the metal walls and ceiling, young office workers pour out of their workaday Santa Rosa digs and give this the aura of a boisterous but genteel frat party that would fit in perfectly near the UC Davis campus. Lunchtimes are quieter, though not necessarily on weekends. The outdoor patio offers a welcome, sun-drenched escape from the daily grind. Overall, the posters of vintage beer labels and the sports memorabilia contribute to the aforementioned college pub atmosphere, providing few distractions from the business at hand: the enjoyment of cold beers, warm company, and good conversation. Close proximity (a few yards) to a United Artist Theater spells super convenience for those seeking a quick bite and a flick.

Din: Quiet in the day; boisterous at night.

Restrooms: Immaculate.

Non-drinkers: Lots of options, from lemonade and soft drinks to teas and mineral waters.

Fizz
SOME FINE BREWS and a relaxed atmosphere.

Flat
BETTER SERVICE would complement an otherwise charming dining experience.
--G.C.

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

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