Summertime beer is here


Shane Louis

Beer and buffalo wings at the bar at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in Pleasant Hill, California on Tuesday, May 5, 2015.

Cooper Mead, Staff member

The Bay Area is filled with great spots to grab a drink or a bite to eat. There are a few notable locations in our immediate area

Massés Sports Bar & Grill

2721 N Main St., Walnut Creek
Massés Sports Bar & Grill is an otherwise unpretentious tan block on Walnut Creek’s North Main street. The Dionysian blockhouse has been a long-standing establishment in the community.

Though billed as a sports bar, the first step inside reveals a pool shark’s dream. The veritable adult playground that Massés has set up consists of foosball and pingpong tables, darts, a boccie ball court and up to 12 pool tables depending on how the room is laid out that day.

The bar in the back of the room is festooned with flat-screen TVs that are no doubt blaring the good word of our country’s messiah, major league sports, every game day.

As for the important bits, Masses is no beverage slouch, serving both cocktails and beer they have a well-stocked cooler in the back room. Sporting an impressive 24 taps, they have a somewhat truncated selection that belies their apparent largess. For those in a mellow mood, they have corona by the bucket, topped off with a shot glass of lime slices. If you are looking for a bit flavor to savor, you will find that the choices top out at Lagunitas, Fat Tire and Blue Moon.

The draft beers begin with your typical light American beers, on to the crafty end, with some of the larger microbrew lagers and IPAs.

They also serve the traditionally overpriced bar snack as well as salads and full entrees and dinners. In short, Masses is the hot spot for a night out whether it’s game day or you’re looking to have some fun while you drink.


BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

Sunvalley Shopping Center, 385 Sun Valley Mall, Concord
In the beating heart of Pleasant Hill’s growing concrete jungle lies BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, conjoined to the Sunvalley mall and adjacent to Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar. The establishment exists as some sort of hybrid between microbrewery, sports bar and restaurant.

While  it may seem like somewhat of a Frankenstein on paper, BJ’s manages to pull it all off to certain degree. With an indeterminately dark-colored floor and seating and light consisting of complementary dim, warm tones, the interior is welcoming, if a bit cookie cutter-esque.

The daylight hours present few issues, but after the sun goes down, the bar area manages to be simultaneously poorly lit and bathed in the flat-screen TV’s glow.

Despite their atmospheric shortcomings, BJ’s brews up a mean selection of house beers. From stouts to seasonals, BJ’s has something for just about everyone, and while none of them will be the best you’ve ever had, they aren’t bad either. This summer will be an excellent time to sample their seasonal witbier, the Nit Wit. For those looking for something with a bit better bitter bite, you can’t go wrong with the Hopstorm IPA and a patio table.

This, in addition to their commendable selection of  the more well-known microbreweries, leads to a solid selection for your average craft beer fan; just don’t spend your beer week here.

They have a nifty selection of appetizer pizzas that are great with your own beer, or to grab a couple to split with your friends. In the end, despite the chain-restaurant nature of the place, BJ’s manages to rise above the mediocrity as a decent place to grab a pint, a bite and a game.


The Hop Grenade

2151 Salvio St, Concord
Located just off the plaza in downtown Concord, The Hop Grenade is a relatively new establishment on the scene. Having opened up just last June, they have quickly established themselves as one of the go-to locations for craft beer in Contra Costa County.

The interior gives off a definite Northern California vibe, with a cool bridge themed island running the length of the interior. The walls continue the local theme with posters of local breweries and California history. All of which is kept neatly tied into the deep browns and cool greens of the earth-tone-centric color scheme.

All of this pales in comparison to the beauty resting behind the bar. Not merely three or four, but 21 glorious taps. All which rotate on a keg-by-keg basis so that no two days have the same menu.

While I was there, I managed to sample a little of everything, starting off with a session IPA from Portland, moving on to a farmhouse ale from Sonoma County. There was a deep coffee flavored smokey stout that went well with one of the sandwiches, and an apple cider from the central valley rounded out the night.

The menu is filled with a consistently diverse selection from across the coast and beyond, thanks to the owners’ positions as the founder and producers of “The Beer Network,” a craft brew talk radio show. Beyond its contents, even the presentation of the menu is rather impressive. Three TV screens sit behind the bar with a visual representation of the remaining amount in each keg.

This feat  is mirrored at tables with their tablet menus. However, outside of their beer selection, the menu is a bit limited, as they don’t serve cocktails or wine. They have a decent bit of food available to have with your pint. The Bavarian pretzel is delicious, especially with the house beer mustard a la carte.


Editors Note: The Inquirer reminds you to drink responsibly.