More and more craft beer hot spots are opening in downtown San Jose, and a beer crawl is an enjoyable way to visit a number of these destinations that serve better beer. Not only do you get to enjoy some heady brews, but you’ll become better acquainted with a variety of establishments to figure out which ones merit return visits.
For my birthday earlier this fall, my brother and I went on a downtown beer crawl along San Pedro and First streets. We visited four out of the 10 or so beer places that are all located within walking distance from one another.
SAN PEDRO SQUARE MARKET BAR
87 N. San Pedro St.; sanpedrosquaremarket.com
At around 5:30pm, we lucked out in finding a table with a good view of both TVs at the San Pedro Square Market Bar. Many folks started settling in to watch the 49ers. We ordered food from the neighboring restaurant mere steps away, and a friendly wait staff took our orders selected from among the eight draft and 20 bottled beer options.
Bar manager Brian Rhett, who has worked at the Market Bar for a year, made the rounds and shared some big news: there are plans in the works to open a 100 percent craft-beer bar with a few dozen taps next summer in the open space on the other side of the building where Bellano Coffee (a.k.a. B2) has set up shop.
The variety and the close proximity of the food vendors in the open market, as well as the outside seating area in the Adobe Peralta Plaza, are undoubtedly great draws for the Market Bar.
O’FLAHERTY’S IRISH PUB
25 N. San Pedro St.; oflahertyspub.com
Though the San Pedro Square Market Bar was cozy, we were eager to continue our beer crawl. Within seconds, we stepped into O’Flaherty’s and found the dining area filled with families and people celebrating the end of the workday. Fortunately, a few spots at the bar opened up.
We checked out the lineup among the 38 beers on tap and placed our orders with the friendly server, who informed us that their biggest sellers were still whiskey and scotch but that more customers were ordering craft beer than before.
General manager Dave Mulvehill told us that their craft beer focus started taking shape back in July with the addition of 16 taps. He has also set up a beer club offering discounts on beers, tastings and free trips to select breweries, as well as monthly beer-related events.
GOOD KARMA VEGAN CAFE
37 S. First St.; goodkarmavegancafe.com
After walking a couple blocks, we arrived at Good Karma. We headed to the back, past the food station, to where the beers are. We were struck by the considerable knowledge of our server, and she answered all our questions about the current beer menu, which consists of 15 draft beers—and in particular about the various sour ales on tap.
A nearby customer with a bright smile let us know that she was a regular and loved Good Karma for its beer selection. Owner Ryan Summers stopped by to ask what beers we were having, and an enthusiastic conversation ensued around our latest and greatest beers tasted.
My brother said that he couldn’t wait to return, as he really enjoyed Good Karma’s lively and down-to-earth vibe. We agreed that Ryan exudes a contagious positivity. Despite being huge sports fans, we didn’t miss having a TV around—the conversations were that enjoyable.
ORIGINAL GRAVITY PUBLIC HOUSE
66 S. First St.; originalgravitypub.com
Across from Good Karma was our last stop. Inside, the Original Gravity team was working diligently. Owners Johnny Wang and Dan Phan, along with general manager Moonlynn Tsai, were either in the kitchen or behind the bar.
The beer lineup—25 taps and bottled selections—was impressive. Having had their much-anticipated grand opening celebration in September, business had been holding steady according to Johnny. He confirmed that the folks serving beer at Original Gravity were expected to pass the certified beer-server exam offered by cicerone.org. Rob Monroe, bar manager and event coordinator, shared that his main goal is for customers new to craft beer to take away something positive from their experience.
[This post was shared on SanJose.com.]