A Taste of Old Possum Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa
With a name like Old Possum Brewing Co., it's not too surprising that several of the beers are named after animals — Fuzzy Critter IPA, Heavy Marsupial DIPA, and Mama's Pouch Blonde. What's more surprising about this Santa Rosa pub is that the food is really good.
Chef Christian Velasquez has fun with his menu — breaded, deep fried mac 'n' cheese balls are called Possum Balls ($8) — but he keeps the quality high. He makes the mac with homemade béchamel sauce, for example, and crafts his own sausages, cures his own ham, fashions his own pork rillettes ($10), and makes his own dressings.
The look: As soon as you step inside, you forget the brewery is in a non-descript industrial park in southwest Santa Rosa. The place is gorgeous, with walls and bar fronts made of gleaming plank wood and high back bar stools padded in tufted leather. Wood tables and more leather chairs sit on the concrete floor, and clever accents include tap knobs made of billiard balls.
To eat: With the Possum team making such excellent craft beers, it would be easy for brewery owners Sandro Tamburin and Dan Shulte to slack on the food. But the 49-seat eatery hums along with a limited, well-crafted menu showcasing bold flavors that stand up to the beers.
A pub salad ($10) is Wine Country classic, with bitter radicchio soothed by apple, bleu cheese, bacon, shallot vinaigrette and candied pecans. Lightly fried cauliflower is dressed with a robust garlic chile vin and mint olive pistou ($8), while craveable jalapeno poppers arrive enriched with bacon ($7). I adore deviled eggs, and these orbs have me extra happy since they're studded with boquerone bits — the garlic anchovies add great tartness.
The sandwiches are superb. My favorite is the Philly ($13), the cheesesteak layered with roast beef, roast peppers, onions, mushrooms, and a blanket of melty provolone, all slathered with Dijon and horseradish aioli for sharp heat. Fried chicken is a close second, and the full-flavored, flattened boneless thigh is crispy, crusted, and crowned in pimento cheese, coleslaw, and bread and butter pickles ($12).
But then, the pulled pork is delicious as well, the bun mounded with tender meat, zingy barbecue sauce, and crunchy purple cabbage coleslaw ($13).
Grilled cheese fans will love this version, too. Sourdough is stuffed with lots of pimento and Swiss ($10); for $3 more, you can add ham. I like the sandwich with a side of ranch (50 cents) — all the better for dunking the sandwich's accompanying chunky steak fries.
To note: The menu changes frequently.
Dessert: Smack your lips over a Zorro chocolate espresso stout aged in rum barrels.
To drink: Beer, of course, with build-your-own flights. But I like that there are a few Sonoma County wines by the glass ($9-$12), for folks who don't care for beer (such people do exist).Details: Old Possum Brewing Co., 357 Sutton Place, Santa Rosa, 707-303-7177.