Battle for the Belt 14

Joe, Lindsay, Michelle and I dropped by Hillsdale Pub for this year’s Battle for the Belt and were surprised by turnout. Maybe the sunny weather motivated people to stop in, or maybe the fact that nearly 20 brewers competed, but the place was packed. The spillover into the parking lot was easily as large as the crowd inside, and since we never got seated in the nearly 2 hours we were there, we hung out in the trunk of the car like many other people. The tailgate was in full effect, but for the first time ever, we had beer delivered to our car. Something was wrong, so very wrong with that picture. The crowd was a bit much, and there were only a couple great beers, so we ditched out.

Oaks Bottom

Joe and I decided it would be better to venture out together than stay at it alone during the stitch & bitch, so we decided to hit up Alameda for a pint or two. Joe hadn’t been there yet, and I hadn’t been there for nearly two years. Alameda makes some fine beers, and I for one, like the danish modern feel. Sadly, 45 minute wait’s worth of other people thought it was a good idea too. Given the option of floating outside Alameda on a slightly chilly night and the proposition of cramming in to the waiting area with young parents and grandparents, we decided to venture elsewhere.

The obvious choice was the Amnesia/5th Quadrant region, based on the assumption that Laurelwood would be similarly packed. Neither of us wanted to get smokey, so Moon & Sixpence and the HB were out. Rose and Raindrop was gone, and both Widmer and Produce Row would probably already be packed. Blue Monk might suffer the same, and we’d already been to everything in the Hawthorne area, so w settled on Oaks Bottom Pub, a place neither of us had been. The lengthy drive down gave us time to realize the other opportunities, but we didn’t want to cross the river and the Broadway/Weidler offerings weren’t calling us. Oh, and County Cork (maybe) and Philadelphia’s (pass).

that’s a lot of places.

We arrived at about 8 p.m. and were surprised to find a line of folks waiting for places. As it turns out, we got in to one of those time bubbles because prior to our arrival, and subsequent to our seating, there wasn’t much of a wait. Still, we signed in and sipped a beer while waiting for a seat. The place has the feel of a neighborhood pub unless you look too closely. Copper foil and painted green tiles present well, but still come up a little short.

The nice thing about the waiting ramp is that you get a chance to enjoy a beer and chat with strangers if only briefly while taking in the scene and letting the day’s stress fall away. When you get your seat, you’re ready to really enjoy that next pint. Oaks Bottom has some great beers on tap, and 3+ Lompoc beers never hurt anyone. Joe and I talked life, beer, work, wives, and enjoyed ourselves. The atmosphere is appropriate for that. While the closeness of everyone can make for some noise, there’s enough space that you’re able to convey your point through it.

One interesting demographic was the average age of the patrons. I’m a used to Concordia, Laurelwood, Kennedy and 5th Quadrant, which is the 25-35 crowd. Oaks Bottom was largely the 35-60 crowd. Probably more a reflection of the neighborhood, but that’s what a pub ought to be. All in all, a nice place with great beer and wise service.

We were almost run down by a gang of 15 year old girls on our way in, so you best look out for them.