“Comings & Goings” columnist Wendy Weitzel has more than 1,000 Facebook likes. That’s at least 1,000 more than I have.
My envy is unrestrained. What’s worse is the solid following she enjoys on her personal page. It’s not uncommon to see a news feed full of Wendy enjoying her double life as a beer enthusiast, visiting what must be every brewery along the West Coast.
Naturally, I needed to get in on her action, so I “invited” Wendy to take me, the wino, beer tasting at Sudwerk. I’d watch her hoist a few, then post a picture and write about our afternoon, taking full advantage of her celebrity.
Never mind that I’m not a beer drinker — not even on a summer day. As my friends quickly pointed out, my scheme was akin to taking a feline hot-tubbing.
We met at The Dock Store adjacent to Sudwerk Restaurant (the two have been distinct operations since 2006) where co-owner Ryan Fry gave us an extensive tour of the brewery. He never once showed the slightest hint of impatience at my neophyte knowledge, and I actually learned quite a bit. What I observed most, however, was the passion all Sudwerkers share for their craft.
The Dock Store is open Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. and Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 8 p.m. We were just finishing our tour when a cadre of low-key (can you imagine?) Davisites dropped in for happy hour. Even out of my element, I was immediately welcomed.
We tasted beers with pomegranate, citrus, chocolate, coffee and other flavors while one regular brought a bag of coconut sugar and suggested it be used in a future brew. With UC Davis’ Master Brewers Program just upstairs, consumers know: Creativity is the standard.
After sampling experimental drafts, Ryan exposed me to several bottled options. Taking a dozen pages of notes, here’s what I can decipher:
My favorite was its flagship, California Dry Hop Lager, followed closely by the Märzen Amber Lager. After that, it gets a little fuzzy because, for as much as Ryan entertained me, I must have returned the favor. Nothing makes sense after page four!
Except something about being drawn to beers with higher alcohol content. And eventually liking everything.
(For the record, Wendy would like it to be known she prefers lower-alcohol beers, which she says are Sudwerk’s specialty. I’ll leave this one alone.)
While my beer palate is still juvenile, my sense of good taste is fully developed. The friendly vibe at The Dock Store makes this a must-do destination. A Labrador fit seamlessly with the casual warmth as did all varieties of people — singles, friends, couples and families.
With no onsite food, patrons bring picnics and potluck to share. They were passing a generous plate of sushi as I tested an early-release spring lager, the Mai Bock.
Most guests also bring refillable 64-ounce growlers to replenish their home supplies. (I’m now the proud owner of the smaller version — a squealer. This makes me feel very Davis-y.)
With Sudwerk celebrating 25 years in business next month, it’s the perfect time to stop by and discover what the newest generation — including co-owner Trent Yackzan, grandson of one of the two founders — is doing to invigorate Davis’ first and only brewery.
You can also enjoy Sudwerk beer at the Farmers Market Soroptimists’ booth when Picnic in the Park resumes Wednesday. That’s where you’ll likely find Wendy — knowledgably serving up Davis’ finest — and expanding her popularity stockpile.
I may not be able to keep up with Wendy, but I can honestly say, I “liked” everything about The Dock Store. Visit it at 2001 Second St.
— Heidy Kellison lives and shops in Davis; her column is published monthly. Reach her at [email protected].