Sacramento, CA 95819
At Hoppy Brewing Company, it’s all about choices—some that aren’t even on the menu.
A fair amount of ink has been devoted by this publication to Hoppy and exactly how hoppening are its bevy of brews. Oddly, though, no assessment of the solids offered at the East Sacramento eatery has been created. Cliffs Notes on the solids: on the whole, a yeomanly accompaniment to Hoppy’s healing malt beverages. Like the Turtles’ song: Hoppy together.
Warehouse-ish in character, with an exposed black ceiling dominated by a corpulent centipede of pipe and vents, Hoppy appears to pride itself on its abundant array of eating options. There are two kinds of soup every day. The clam chowder is thick and benefits from pepper and Tabasco. Same with the ham chowder. For a good thyme, call up the split pea.
But when it comes to choices, consider the charismatically charred one-third of a pound burger. Lettuce and tomato are the sole standard features. Choices at 40 cents a throw: jack, cheddar, Swiss, blue or pepper jack cheese; mushrooms; red pepper or jalapeño aioli; Cajun spices; roasted red pepper; jalapeños; teriyaki sauce and pineapple. Avocado is $1. Oh, lest it be overlooked, Black and Bleu—Cajun spices with blue cheese.
All of those choices are plainly spelled out on Hoppy’s expansive menu, but even menu items that don’t list options have options if luck allows Jaime—“High-may,” not “J-me”—to be the server. He is encyclopedic on the merits and demerits of the menu, instantly touting the turkey gouda sandwich that, on a second visit, gets the nod. But there’s an overarching issue that requires a different selection on the first visit.
The quest continues here to find Sacramento’s best Philly cheese steak. Suggestions are welcome. Granted it’s authentic, but it’s instant DQ for any PCS featuring Cheese Wiz. Like broccoli, anathema.
So far, Burgers and Brew, with the slightly sweet marinated sirloin and Gruyère cheese, hovers near the list’s heights. But the Philly cheese Jaime creates comes darn close. On the menu, it’s served on a roll with jack cheese. The roll is hard and should be substituted with ciabatta, says Jaime. Great. Pepper jack instead of jack? Beautiful. Avocado? Kinky. Hey, could a few jalapeños be tossed into the mix? Absolutely, Jaime says. The heat of the cheese and jalapeños cooled by the avocado is a winning combination.
Jaime suggests tinkering with the turkey Gouda as well. Bacon? Carnivore is my middle name. Avocado? Worked once. And the slices go swimmingly with avocado aioli, as one might expect.
On another visit, served by Jeanine, an ardent advocate of the ham chowder, the half-portion of chopped salad is discovered to be a meal unto itself. Fanning from a hard-boiled egg centerpiece atop mixed greens is bacon, shredded jack and cheddar cheese, tomatoes, green onion, and what the menu says are raisins but taste more like craisins.
Another outstanding recommendation of Jeanine is the garlic basil dressing with healthy chunks of the former at the bottom of the small plastic container. The salad improves when doused with a second container full.
Reinforcing Hoppy’s torrid love affair with Cajun cooking is the Fettuccine Creole, in which sausage and chicken pieces, bell pepper spears and onions float in a pond of burnt-sienna-colored cream sauce. It’s a matter of perspective, naturally, but the menu’s warning that the dish is spicy seems unnecessary both given the nature of Cajun cooking and, from a practical standpoint, the fact that the dish isn’t actually very spicy.
Again, there seems no point in dwelling on the brewskis. It’s been done before. Suffice that there is a reason “brewing” is proudly featured in Hoppy’s name. And it’s worth noting Hoppy’s blessings flow from the 1993 introduction of Hoppy Face, an amber ale created by Troy Paski, Hoppy’s chief founder. A bonus is the bon mots punctuating the menu. Personal favorite:
“My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog already thinks I am.”