Let it flow

Manager Lacy Gann pours a Vegas Bomb.

Manager Lacy Gann pours a Vegas Bomb.

Photo/Allison Young

For more information, visit flowingtidepub.com.

One recent Sunday, my wife and kids left me behind on a day trip, so I was left to my own devices after work. Not one to completely shirk my domestic obligations, I planned a quick trip to a big box store and sought out a nearby beer-and-dinner destination. My all-knowing online map pointed me to Flowing Tide Pub No. 4 in Sparks.

As a beer-loving family man, I’m always happy to find places that offer a kid-friendly environment and menu complemented by a great beer selection. Reasonable prices and a convenient location—all the better. We’ve patronized the original northwest Reno Flowing Tide a few times in the past, but found it a little too bar-like for family dinner on some occasions. I knew they had opened at least one additional pub in south Reno, but didn’t realize the Flowing Tide empire was now five locations strong.

A little out of my stomping ground, I found the Sparks Flowing Tide in a semi-suburban strip mall. Banners outside promoted it paradoxically as “Family Friendly” but with an “Adults Only—Smoking Allowed” section, a dichotomy I’d never seen before. I chose the former since I wanted to eat, not smoke, but I could see the appeal of a smoking area for those so inclined. Offering the choice is considerate and savvy, the first of many choices here.

Signs described daily specials, happy hour details, and promoted the rotating craft beer options. An average-sized bar was only a relatively small part of a large layout—tables and booths, a sunken game area with pool, pinball and other games, and a TV the size of my living room wall showing football. It wasn’t clear if I should just sit or wait, so I wandered around pretending to look for someone. I finally asked and sat myself as instructed. Drink and food menus followed quickly, and more choices unfolded—about 20 draft beers, from the basic “domestic” category to the one arguably “super premium” beer, Sculpin IPA. Nautically-themed specialty cocktails and bottled beers completed that half of the drink menu, and a short but respectable list of wines by the glass or bottle filled the other half.

I briefly considered the beer list, but a banner across the room promoted the beer of the month, local Lead Dog’s Citra Solo IPA, and the choice was made—until I had to pick a size. Twenty-eight ounces seemed a little excessive, so I ordered a pint, wondering if happy hour was based on when you ordered or when you paid your bill—happily, it was the former since the first happy hour was almost over, and I’d be long gone before the second started at 10 p.m. This is one of two Flowing Tide locations open 24 hours.

The menu offers far more food choices than the drink menu does drinks—more than typical “pub grub,” including breakfast, on par with a full-blown restaurant. Pool tables and sports TVs on every wall still make it feel like a bar, but the line between the two is blurred here.

I sometimes joke with a Sparks resident coworker about how everything is better there, the gas prices are lower, the Costco less crowded, like Reno without the bad parts. Even just joking, there’s a touch of truth, and Sparks sometimes feels distant and alien even though it’s literally just down the road. Even if Sparks boasts this welcome place with plenty of choices in beer, food, and even smoking or family atmosphere—at least Reno can still claim the other four Flowing Tide Pubs.