The 4th annual Sacramento Beer Week is off to a splendid start throughout the region, and we're starting to see a trend wherever we go: enthusiastic but laid-back crowds, great beer, good times.
We dropped by Track 7 Brewing Co. on Saturday to find a rather amazing site - folks lining up for the excellent beer brewed on-site at a facility that was once an industrial park but is now on the verge of being something very special. If you're looking to visit -- and you should if you're into craft beer -- Track 7 is at 3747 W. Pacific Ave., Sacramento (if it feels like you've made a wrong turn and it looks like the wrong place, you're there; dogs and kids welcome, too). While there, we bumped into the affable Brian Guido, one of the forces behind the recent and highly successful Sacramento BaconFest. He convinced us to take light rail out to Folsom to hit the happy hour at Samuel Horne's Tavern -- we'll be doing that sometime this week.
The beers here are very impressive. I had a pint of the Soulman Stout and Lynn had a Daylight amber. We also ordered a couple of very nice pizzas made by Michael Johnson of the Pizza Company, which has a mobile wood-fired oven that reaches 850 degrees Fahhrenheit. Kudos to Johnson for making a special Beer Week pizza - cheese made by Johnson using Track 7's Soulman Stout, no-nitrates spicy sausage, spinach and a touch of mozzarella. I thought it was only fitting to pair the pizza with a Soulman Stout, but it also worked well with the amber. The other pizza was vegetarian and was also devoured with our beers.
On Sunday, our day revolved around stopping in at Hot City Pizza in East Sacramento for the wide array of sour and barrel-aged beers on tap. This was another very enjoyable outing, as the crowds were great throughout the day. There was a good line, but it wasn't crazy, and we were lucky enough to find a table and enjoy our pizza. The "Angry Pig," by the way, is one very good - and very spicy - pie, with jalapenos and spicy sausage adding the kind of heat that pushes this pizza right to the edge.
Sure, maybe sour beer wasn't the perfect pairing for a spicy-hot pizza (a nice IPA always seems to work well with hot food), but we still found a way to really appreciate these esoteric offerings. I had a Mad River sour and an MOA Imperial Stout aged in pinot noir barrels. Lynn went with the accessible and milder Upright 4. The server at the counter was very good, and helped us zero-in on our selections, since these beers were not known to us.
Again, the crowd was great. Everyone was having a nice, low-key time. One table had a card game going. And the serious beer enthusiasts seemed to be finding some new, edgy and complex beers to add to their to-do lists. More good news: I'm told Hot City Pizza had its busiest day ever on Friday. They deserve it.
If you haven't been to Hot City yet, you owe it to yourself to drop by. Hot City is at 5642 J St., Sacramento (if you pull up and think, "No way a place this small could have such a large and eclectic beer selection," don't worry -- you found it).
Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twitter, @blarob.