Arcata's beer world just got a little deeper. Dead Reckoning Cellar, an offshoot of owner Theo Brown's Dead Reckoning Tavern, is open for business.
Located at 815 J St. in Arcata, between the Dead Reckoning Tavern and the newly opened Burger Joint, the Cellar's hole-in-the-wall entrance makes stepping inside feel like stumbling across a secret.
True to its name, the Cellar's slate colored walls and low ceilings make for an intimate, grotto-like feel but the space is well designed, with a standing bar and plenty of room to browse the shelves.
Perusing labels — ranging from bright and post-modern, to old-world formal — is like visiting an eclectic gallery of tiny masterpieces. It helps that the shop's not floor to ceiling beer. The accessible, smallish collection is well-curated and organized. Believe me, there's still plenty of beer.
Brown doesn't want that overwhelming feeling of walking into a store 20,000 beers and being unable to tell the good from the "bullshit."
"I can tell you about every beer in here," he says. "And I'd drink all but two of them."
Those beers run the full range of styles and origins: IPAs, lagers, lambics, stouts, sours and more. The Cellar has six taps — on my visit, Brown was pouring Alpine Brewing's Nelson IPA, just-slightly hazy and hop-rich, as well as a deceptively strong Cascade brewing sour ale made with sour cherries and apricot. To borrow his term, yummerz.
Brown has been building the Cellar's stock for three years. Though he's had a selection of bottles for sale in the Tavern, it was always his intention to expand the offerings into a proper bottle shop. It took him that long to collect enough to feel comfortable opening. With an eye for small batch, craft and seasonal brews, Brown wanted to make sure the bottles wouldn't sell out too fast for him to replenish. An advantage of running — and shopping at — a bottle shop on the North Coast is there are fewer serious collectors to wipe out the stock in one fell swoop.
Gesturing at a shelf, Brown points out a saison that wouldn't last a day in San Francisco. But he also aims to create a selection of great beers that aren't necessarily trophy finds. "If you're always searching for the unattainable, you're missing all the great beers right in front of you," he says.
On a rainy Saturday afternoon, there's a constant stream of beer hounds cruising through the cellar. Some open bottles or order from the taps and chat with Brown about music, food and, of course, beer. Others browse the selection, or beeline for their favorites to take home.
Brown enjoys helping regulars develop their pallets, steering them toward new styles and new favorites. Visiting the Cellar is a learning experience, an art show and a toothsome, global journey all in one.
In the future, Brown plans to offer flights focusing on certain styles or tastings of different vintages of the same beer. He's also exploring the idea of taster's club, with monthly events. "I'm beyond excited," he says.
Follow Dead Reckoning Tavern on Facebook or Instagram for more information in the next couple months. Dead Reckoning Cellars is open Monday through Saturday from 3 to 8 p.m.
Women's Brew Day
March 3 marks Humboldt County's first all-women brew day.
Meredith Maier, owner of Six Rivers Brewery, launched the Humboldt County Chapter of the Pink Boots Society, which aims to educate and empower women in the brewing industry. In recognition of International Women's Day, Maier and brewery co-owner Talia Nachshon Clare, marketing coordinator Jen McFerrin and Talvi Fried from Humboldt Homebrewers have joined an international Pink Boots Society brew day, proceeds of which will support educational scholarships for women in the brewing industry.
At a recent Great American Beer Festival, the Pink Boots Society developed a special blend of hops that each participating chapter must use in the brew. The rest of the recipe will be up to the individual chapter, giving it a bit of an Iron Chef feel.
"The Humboldt County brewing community, we consider ourselves a family, especially the women," Maier says. "We're certainly outnumbered but we come with a lot of energy."
With the local chapter of the Pink Boots Society, Maier says she's hoping to encourage more women to join the brewing industry – especially on the brewing side. More recipes developed by women could help tap an overlooked market of women beer drinkers.
"These ladies have got what it takes to put out a great beer," she says. Participants in the Humboldt event were invited to meet on Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Siren's Song Tavern to finalize the recipe, as well as come up with a name for the beer, which will be sold following the collaborative brew day.
The brew day itself is on March 3 at Six Rivers Brewery and it's open to all female brewery professionals and hobbyists (including retirees, bartenders and others connected to the industry). Contact Maier if you're interested — all experience levels are welcome.
For more information and to register to join the brew day, call or email Maier at firstname.lastname@example.org or 834-1318.
On the Agenda:
Mark your calendar for the Humboldt Homebrew Competition, coming to the Arcata Community Center on April 7. This mellow festival is a good time and a good cause, supporting Engineers Without Borders, and it's an opportunity to try some crafty, unique and out-there brews from local homebrewers and beyond. If you want to submit your own homebrew to the bottle competition, the deadline is March 18. All the details are available at www.humboldthomebrewfest.com.