Why we're here...

Beer culture is coming of age. At any store, restaurant, bar, or friend's house you can now find at least a few good brews. In fact, there seem to be so many new beers, breweries and bars it's difficult to separate the good, the bad, and the mediocre.

If you're going spend $10 on one beer, what should you buy? If you're going to drive 2 hours to check out a brewery, what's worth your time? If you're going to plan a Friday night, what has a good selection and friendly atmosphere? We're here to help you answer these questions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bars: Alley Katz

Alley Katz,  which opened on January 1, 2011, is a bar and small pool hall in midtown Sacramento that is known for its extensive beer selection.  They have about two dozen beers on tap and maybe 200 in bottles. It's a great variety of European and American brews. There are also "yards" for sale which is about 3 pitchers and depending on the beer can cost between $30-$40 according to the bartender. They also serve liquor, sandwiches, and pizzas.

Their hours are Monday through Friday 11:00am - Midnight and Saturday and Sunday 2pm to Midnight. They have a happy hour everyday from 3pm to 7pm.

Alley Katz is in a quiet part of midtown, just off the beaten path. When I went there, the red cat sign was not on the building, but the many neon beer lights in the window is a giveaway.

The space is large, about 2000 sq. feet and very open. There are large booths along the walls, a decent size bar and tall tables that run down the middle. Alley Katz can pack a decent crowd. There are two pool tables, a foosball table, a pin ball machine and several flat screen TVs.

Alley Katz is a sponsor of Sacramento Beer Week and hosts several events.

I was happy to see a bar that pushes an extensive beer selection through bottles and a modest draft selection. As I noted in my River Rock Tap House review, too many taps is a disservice to beer. It's hard to manage dozens of kegs, taps, and lines. Less popular kegs can sit around too long and become stale, and lines can be sloppily cleaned. But at Alley Katz i think they top out at a manageable amount. Also, I tend to enjoy beers more from the bottle.

A friend and I first ordered a pitcher of Rubicon's Rosebud. It came out clean with great flavor, which is a good sign that they manage their lines and kegs. I also ordered a bottle of Anderson Valley's Dubbel Ale and Mendocino's Imperial IPA. I'll write reviews for those soon. The bartenders were friendly, although despite a slow night, the service was slow.

I did not try the food, but Yelp reviews seem to think its good and decently priced.

I had also heard complaints about the crowd and the addition of liquor. I was there on a Tuesday night, so the crowd was only 10-12 people deep. All were drinking some kind of craft beer.  I actually went here right after it opened last January, and it was the typical eclectic midtown mix.

The one draw back for me is the space. I like the openness of it and the seating, but the music is too loud and there's something about the space that isn't relaxing. I like to be able to chat with my friends during a good beer session. The booths aren't as comfortable as I'd hoped. This isn't a deal breaker by any means, the beer selection and readily available space is a plus.

Overall, I suggest you Try It. I would come back, its good for large groups, and I'm curious to see if the complaints about the night time crowd are true. I'm glad Sacramento has a spot like Alley Katz and if you're a craft brew lover give it some love.

1 comment:

  1. A very good bar, do "TRY IT".
    A nice owner, he deserves your support.
    I'd second these comments and add:
    -Very nice beer selection, some rarities available
    -Great jukebox, heard favorites I have never heard before in a bar
    -Dinner was cheap and simple, quintessential bar food.... as a friend of mine says "it's fuel".
    -I like the open floor plan, but on a busy night it would feel like a crowded mess.
    -My service was also a bit slow on a slow night. what happens on a crowded night.