If you’ve ever spent any quality time in what’s known around my parts (San Francisco) as “the South Bay”, you’ll know – or at least be told – that it’s a total craft beer backwater. This is the area with San Jose as its southernmost point, up the peninsula to about Palo Alto. Also known in popular parlance as Silicon Valley. It also happens to be where I grew up. It also happens to be where I found myself this past Tuesday night with the much-celebrated “Peet” from Ontario, a guy we talked about here and here, and whom we can now reveal as “Pete”, given that he was not bearing any illegally smuggled wares from the wilds of deepest Canada.
So Pete and I decided, since we were sequestered in the South Bay at a conference, to take our post-event partying to a place I’d heard some good things about, FAULTLINE BREWING in Sunnyvale. I know there’s a BJ’S around there somewhere – and I know they make good beer – but I didn’t want to subject him to the marginal TIED HOUSE, and besides, I needed some new material for this here blog. We arrived to find your basic high-ceilinged, large-vats, planks-n-beams type of brewpub, patented around 1995 or so and pretty much the template for every big suburban microbrewery ever since. Not like I’m complaining. I walk into a place like this and it’s like I’m in my own living room, kicking off my slippers and waiting for the wife to bring me my pipe. We decided not to dip into any fried calamari or spicy wings – or whatever it was they were cooking up – and sat on the patio outside on a nice balmy Sunnyvale night. Attention quickly turned to beer, as it so often does, and we jointly resolved to try every beer in the joint, all ten of ‘em. The only way that could be done without going the drunken way of the post-work Japanese businessman was to each order the sampler platter, with 2-3oz. mini-glasses of each beer, and sip them gingerly.
FAULTLINE does a good job of brewing a lot of different styles, many in the fairly low-alcohol realm. They don’t seem to be doing any Belgian styles nor Imperial anything. Nope, we made our way light-to-dark through a lineup that started with a surprisingly crisp and biting PILSNER, up through a decent KOLSCH and on to a HEFEWEIZEN. There’s a BEST BITTER, a CASK-CONDITIONED ALE (very good – it’s the same PALE ALE we tried, but uncarbonated), an OKTOBERFEST, a DUNKEL WEIZEN etc etc. Several of the lighter beers had similar tastes; light hopping, medium body, yet a little more oomph than I’d expected. That PILSNER was one example; I also like the BEST BITTER quite a bit, a great creamy caramel taste with some great bittering hop action. My favorites – and I think Pete kinda agreed, more or less – were the last two we tried: the nitrogen-dispensed STOUT and the INDIA PALE ALE, or “IPA” as it is sometimes known. Both were excellent; the IPA is definitely in the English style, and it was sort of the oddball of the evening; a dose of hops and citrus tang after a load of smooth, not-too-threatening ales and lagers. I’d like to see what a pint of that tastes like going down. Perhaps one day I shall.
Long and short of it is that FAULTLINE’s a cool place. I’d come back here again, and I’d probably go straight for a pint – no, make that an “imperial pint” – of the STOUT, followed by the IPA. I’d maybe even get a French-fried onion and a big-ass quesadilla to go with it. No ratings on the beers on an individual basis, but let’s go with a 7/10 for the whole shebang.