Archive for February 4th, 2011

Editor’s Letter, February 2011

Given that my taste in beer runs to Miller High Life, I’m probably not the best choice to be writing an introduction to this month’s issue.  That said, I can appreciate enthusiasm, and I know that no issue topic in memory has generated more interest from our contributors – we were barely able to fit all the stories that came in this month!

Shooting the cover at Pangaea was a natural.  Owner Rob Archie has created an amazing little scene on his corner, nestled between Oak Park and Curtis Park, across the street from Gunther’s Ice Cream.  Though Pangaea started off as a coffee café, Rob has since expanded his offerings to include an incredible selection of imported and craft beers.  In so doing, he’s broken down the invisible wall that exists between coffee shop and bar.  Archie cites European cafes as his model, and he’s got it down – Pangaea has the same vibe I’ve found in cafes in Turin, Barcelona and Lisbon – but never before in Sac.  Archie has not only survived the recession, he’s thriving – a heartening example of a nice guy doing well.

Another nice guy doing well is the author of this month’s history of Sacramento Brewing, Ed Carroll.  I first met Ed nearly twenty years ago, when he was the drummer for a scrappy punk band called Nar. Unlike most punk drummers of the time, Carroll was a master of understatement, playing stone-steady beats with driving intensity.  It was no surprise then when I discovered that he was a Kinks fanatic – Mick Avory’s meat and potatoes backbeat was the antithesis of incendiary stagehogs like Keith Moon, the essence of rock and roll tastiness.

I was surprised when Ed also turned out to be a complete history nut – especially on subjects related to the Gold Rush.  Ed enjoys nothing more than digging through the archives, searching for crumbling documents and faded photographs of early California.  Actually, let me amend that – he does enjoy one thing more: beer – which brings us full circle.

Several of Ed’s passions, then, are consolidated in Sacramento: City of a Beer, the 1998 record profiled by Dennis Yudt in this issue. Ed wrote the liner notes, played on two of the tracks (one by the aforementioned Nar, and the other by the incredible Lazy J’s) and can be credited with being a general inspiration for the project.  We wanted to include info about where to buy the record, but discovered that it is long out of print and nigh-impossible to find these days.  Sorry!

We rounded out the issue with my article about Austrian-born, LA-based artist Gottfried Helnwein, whose Inferno of the Innocents show opened at the Crocker at the end of January.  Helnwein’s work is not standard Crocker fare, and Director Lial Jones says she’s not expecting everyone to like the show.  I suspect she’ll be right.  Midtown is proud to be one of the listed sponsors of the exhibit, and I’ll be curious to see what the crowd’s take is on it.  One thing’s for sure – it’s not your father’s Crocker anymore!

A Tale of Two Brews

By Becky Grunewald  Photos by Scott Duncan

It’s lunchtime at Pangaea Two Brews; the sun slanting through the large windows warms the quietly buzzing, multi-racial crowd.  The owner, Rob Archie, gave the cafe this rather odd name – the designation for the supercontinent that existed before the shifting of tectonic plates gave us the current seven continents – because it’s situated at the intersection of the disparate worlds of Oak Park and Curtis Park (it even has two zipcodes); the “two brews” he’s referring to are coffee and beer. Read more »

Crossing the Rubicon

By Niki Kangas, Photo by Scott Duncan

Many Midtowners have tossed back copious happy pints at Sacramento’s favorite brewpub, The Rubicon, but most of us don’t have a clue about the brains behind the brew. These days the taps belong to quite a nice chap, Glynn Phillips. I sat down with Glynn on a bottling day for their winter seasonal, and so was able to enjoy a conversation paired with a freshly bottled 22 oz. Capricorn Black, all before noon Read more »