Pass it Around

dining 99bottlesNew owners of 99 Bottles add to variety of beers and edibles

Every Tuesday night for more than a decade, we enjoyed a family dinner at 99 Bottles in Santa Cruz. Of course, we didn’t let the little ones run around, but the atmosphere during Pint Night, the weekly beer gear raffle, was animated enough that I didn’t have to constantly shush them. On the wall behind one of the many rows of brewery taps is a brick with my name engraved in it. My first-grade daughter, on the other hand, once had a sink installed in her honor. (Science lesson: weight-bearing capacity of cantilevered construction.)

Mia and Dave Bossie, the seasoned home-brewers who purchased the enterprise last fall, have made noticeable improvements, all of which were celebrated over the first weekend in March. We arrived to find a packed house on Saturday afternoon, just as KPIG was finishing its live broadcast, and were seated on the patio facing the sidewalk. Word to the wise? Watch your pints, one of ours walked away.

The restaurant’s menu remains huge, but has many new items. I was pleased that my personal favorites remained, and also by the availability of local products such as Farmhouse Culture sauerkraut on the Reuben sandwich, or, as a side, and Black China Bakery desserts. A rotating selection of local beers is now always on tap. After all, traveling beer lovers always seek out unique microbrews.

The beer list, which now includes more than 160 brews grouped by style, is now much easier to read. There are still 99 numbered beers, and when you finish drinking each one, you will receive a logo T-shirt and a little black plaque on the Wall of Fame. I had a great time learning about, tasting and analyzing the various kinds of beer with my first 99 Bottles card, and after a decade of weekly dinners, it wasn’t a stretch to consume the 990 required for that brick behind the bar.
dining 99botn
Ploughman’s Platter ($10.99) featured el Salchichero salumi, prosciutto, soft fontina and nutty Pecorino Romano cheeses with cornichons and Francese bread.
I found the soft, sharp Cheddar Beer Cheese Spread ($6.99) to be a little mild, and would try the smoked Gouda version next time.

I pumped up a pretty trio of Chicken Sliders ($7.99), dressed with mild chipotle sauce, with a dose of Tabasco. Sliders are also made with burger, pulled pork, and BBQ beef brisket. Chunks of lean, flavorful meat made the Louisiana smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich ($9.99) a winner.

We tried a couple of French Bread Pizzas ($11.99) which were both delightful. Toppings like feta, summer sausage and jalapeños make filling and flavorful combinations. I especially enjoyed the spicy beer sausage with creamy, sweet roasted garlic and thin rings of red onion.

On Mondays, food is discounted 15 percent, there is still a Tuesday Pint Night, Wednesday trivia, and a Thirsty Thursday all-day happy hour. I felt like the Bossies’ vision to maintain the original ambiance of 99 Bottles had been met, and then exceeded with new carpeting, accessible restrooms, new food, and an excuse to try 50 more beers.

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, 110 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 459-9999, 99bottles.com.

Leprechauns for Liberty
Since 2001, the One Double Oh Seven Club and Smoking Parlor has raised more than $50,000 to benefit injured military veterans.  One of the two annual fundraisers is a Saint Patrick’s Day celebration, where donors are invited to share in an Irish feast.

Cooked in-house by the bar’s manager and graduate of San Francisco Culinary Academy Kat Swanson, the meal features corned beef from Robert’s, a century-old San Franciscan establishment, cabbage, and potatoes.

There are two ways to contribute. “Leprechauns” are currently on sale for $5 or $20, and will be entered into a drawing for two seats at a San Francisco Giants game, courtesy of owners Mark and Bev Swanson. These are amazing seats a handful of rows up behind home plate. You need not be present to win, so just write your name and phone number on the back. These yellow and green certificates, many of which honor a specific veteran, will be displayed around the bar with festive decorations.
On Saint Patrick’s Day itself, raffle tickets ($1) will be sold and entered into a drawing for adult beverage-branded items such as T-shirts, caps, and glasses, as well as donated items from local businesses.

The One Double Oh Seven Club is a legal smoking parlor which caters to the approximately 12 percent of Cruzans who smoke, and on this busy afternoon, it could be a bit dense, even with the Honeywell air cleaners operating at capacity. Donations are also welcome by way of checks made out to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, or Fisher House. Fisher House, located in Palo Alto, provides lodging for veterans’ families while their injured service person receives treatment.

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration and fundraiser, Sunday, March 17 from 2 p.m., 1007 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 425-9589. Full bar.

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