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By Jasmine · October 9th, 2009 · No Comments

We finally got a chance to go to Hopmonk in Sebastapol, the latest beer venture from Dean Biersch, cofounder of the Gordon Biersch brewery chain. It’s in a neat old building with exposed beams built, according to their website in 1903. The round booths are odd, but better than standard straight booths with high backs–it makes for a very communal feeling inside. The inside is cool and clean and dark, while the beer garden outside is bright and open and dusty.

Hopmonk interior

Admittedly, we were investigating this place as a possible wedding venue. We thought it might be neat to do a wedding in Sonoma at a beer garden instead of your more predictable vineyard. I don’t think we’ll be going here–however, just because it falls short as somewhere to rent a bus to schlepp one hundred of your closest family and friends to doesn’t mean it isn’t a fine place for lunch and a beer if you’re in the area. Outside it was incredibly dusty and harsh, but I’ll bet at night it’s warm and wonderful–a perfect spot to sit for hours with friends.

Hopmonk beer garden

The food was mixed–that doesn’t suprise me. This seems to be happening a lot at more upscale beer places. They want to have better fare than greasy pub food, but they also don’t want to depart TOO far from that, in case that alienates the crowd they hope will become their local regulars. As a result, Hopmonk has a killer burger, but slightly odd tasting tandoori chicken skewers with worse than odd tasting falafel, and amazing mustard potatoes with average bratwurst and strangely spicey slaw alongside. The beer list felt somewhat unimpressive, though we did have a pretty tasty Hopmonk beer. They didn’t even have a bottle list–I was told to “go look at the bottles in the cooler behind the bar.” As that would have involved me crawling over three half-drunk old men, that didn’t happen.

It seems to be a place focused heavily on music. As a venue for that, I hear it’s pretty amazing, and I can imagine it would be awesome to hang out in the garden while a band plays in the outbuilding behind it. I’m not sure Hopmonk has found their “sweet spot” yet, but maybe music-goers and locals are exactly the crowd they’re aiming for and are exactly the crowd they’re getting. Check it out if you’re already in the neighborhood.

Tags: Beer & Food · Beerventures

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