Just plain good
The Olive Drive frontage road in Davis is easy to miss but rewarding to use. Tree-lined, quiet and industrial, the route parallels the freeway. It’s a direct passage to three replenishment icons—In-N-Out Burger, Redrum Burger and Dutch Bros. Coffee.
Dunloe Brewing, which celebrates its one-year anniversary this month, doesn’t yet qualify for icon status, but its Olive Drive location does, and the microbrewery’s beer may someday.
The sturdy, brick building was built for Pacific Bell in 1945. It was home for about 20 years to Ganesh Works, an electrical fix-it company relocated to Woodland several years ago. Minimalism now reigns.
Dunloe serves only beer, the creations of Brennan Fleming. He’s approaching a decade in the business, with a career launched at the iconic Sudwerk, Davis’ original microbrewery. Fleming worked on the bottling line and spent his share of time cleaning kegs before becoming a pub owner and brewer.
Fleming completed the Masters Brewing Program at UC Davis in 2012. Two years later, he received his bachelor’s degree from UCD in food science. Is there a better follow-up to these achievements than making beer? Like most college cities, Davis has about as many places to drink beer as it has classrooms. Dunloe opened as the third of the city’s four microbreweries in 2017.
“We’ve stayed pretty consistent,” says Fleming, who not only crafts the beer, but built much of the brewery’s interior. “Not that much has changed during the year. We kind of went into it with one idea and we’ve stuck with it.”
The four craft breweries all have unique personalities and niches. Dunloe’s most visibly unique attributes are Fleming’s dogs, Tyne and Arrow—the official greeters and sentinels. They rule the tasting room, friends to all.
Named after the Gap of Dunloe, a narrow mountain pass in Ireland represented on the brewery’s logo, it’s translation is “gap of the common-land,” and is ideal for the community-style tasting room. The wooden communal tables are complemented by signature brewery decor—wood, metal, brick and barrels. A chalkboard next to the bar lists the often-rotating selections, all cleverly named.
The choices on a recent visit included: California Hello (Berliner Weisse), Family Farm (Saison), Sunshine Highway (IPA), Dude and the Hippy (Double IPA), Copilot (Pale Ale), Black Velvet Band (Oatmeal Stout), Fresh Funk (Golden Sour) and Rocket Surgery (Helles Lager).
The lager was perfectly light and refreshing. A half-pint wasn’t sufficient, but it was an ideal sampler for the return drive to Sacramento.
Dunloe’s simplicity is also reflected in a minimalistic approach to snacks—mainstream crackers from a box on the counter. A food truck often (but not always) arrives on Thursday nights. Dunloe also accepts outside food, perhaps a choice inspired by the previously mentioned burger joints about a mile down the frontage road.