Top-shelf selection

Owner Ryan Eller enjoys a beer in front of his beer bottle collection, which contains bottles up to 40 years old.

Owner Ryan Eller enjoys a beer in front of his beer bottle collection, which contains bottles up to 40 years old.

Photo/Eric Marks

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My son, age 9, and I have a running joke. When his sister and mom make plans, leaving us guys on our own, and we discuss what we’re going to do, the answer is always, “get a pizza, drink some beer, guy stuff …” and other nonsense. Maybe it’s not as funny written out here. We rarely actually do anything of the sort—well, he doesn’t, at least not the beer—it’s just fun pretending we’re going to do the most stereotypical guy stuff possible.

As it turns out, actually doing that stuff is pretty great. I needed to console the sting of his sister attending her first concert with their favorite aunt, so we thought maybe shooting some pool and getting a pizza would make a good guys’ night. Destination: Mellow Fellow of Reno (as opposed to the Truckee or Virginia City locations—the original Kings Beach site closed last year).

Tucked in the ground floor of a parking/office structure on East Second Street across from Greater Nevada Field, Mellow Fellow occupies the site of the former Silver Peak pizza joint, Slice of the Peak. I often wondered whether the busy baseball season would be enough to sustain business year-round on the lightly trafficked block. With more than just pizza and beer for baseball fans, Mellow Fellow appears to have a formula successful enough to carry them through the off months.

Walking up, Mellow Fellow appears divided, one side restaurant-style table seating and the other more traditional bar. The bar side also has several long tables for dining or communal drinking, a couple of cushy couches, and a pool table, delightfully free of charge. The division gave me pause as I wasn’t sure if minors were limited to the dining side. After struggling to get the attention of a bartender, feeling invisible while hovering awkwardly behind other patrons, I finally focused my laser-like eye contact and confirmed it was fine for the boy to join me.

This is a temple to beer, from the wall of bottles to the barrel staves and barley stalks decorating the room. The draft selection is top notch, filling a giant chalkboard dominating the wall above the kitchen. With menu options roughly categorized by styles like lighter, darker and hoppy, it was easy to find things I liked—but hard to decide. I settled on a new IPA from local Lead Dog, one of just a few local beers available. Besides the draft list, two glass-doored coolers held a beer geek buffet of bottles and cans, the best kind of window shopping for obsessive craft beer fans. This broad, top-shelf selection of beer is probably a factor in Mellow Fellow’s success, hosting regular events like “all you can drink” nights dedicated to a single craft brewery’s beers.

The bar wasn’t terribly crowded, but a mix of customers mostly filled the bar—eating, drinking, and generally making merry.

After half-assedly dominating the pool table, then—much to my sidekick’s delight—scratching on the eight ball, I offered the choice of eating there or proceeding with our pizza plan. While I could happily have stayed and ordered something from the attractive menu of modern gastropub food to go with a second beer, sadly, a $5 Hot-n-Ready was firmly in my son’s sights, and he would not be deterred.