Pubs have also been battlegrounds in the liberation of the modern woman. Although women have been active in pub life as servers, companions, and proprietresses since the inception of the ancient alehouse, only in the past few decades has it become socially acceptable for unaccompanied women to visits pubs in order to carouse with the same abandon as their male counterparts. Having taken those hard-won, suds-stained floors, women of all stripes have embraced the communal aspects of pub culture and made it their own.
For UCI students, faculty, and Irvine residents in the surrounding neighborhoods, the Steelhead Brewing Company is the location of convenience for good beers and simple food. Started close to twenty years ago in Oregon by a diverse group of microbrew-loving businessmen, this neoteric rendition of an old world brewpub boasts of three locations in Oregon and California. Steelhead's hefty assortment of hand-crafted ales and beers offers a tempting lure for a panda looking to hole up and trade war stories with a few close friends.
One of Steelhead's biggest attractions is its cozy ambience, with high, wood beam ceilings, warm lighting, sturdy furniture, and overstuffed armchairs. Televisions mounted along the walls at regular intervals provide patrons with clear views of their favorite sporting events. The cheerful cacophony from groups of chattering regulars allows you enjoy a drink in companionable solitude, or to make as much noise as you like with friends without disturbing anyone else.
The main reason to go to any pub is for their beers. Here, Steelhead really delivers, with an assortment of brews ranging from decent to excellent. As far as I'm concerned, there's really only one drink choice for the thrifty beer aficionado; the Sampler.
You get six - count 'em - six small glasses of Steelhead's award-winning microbrews. That rings up at just under two pints worth of beer for a little over the cost of a single pint. With the Sampler, you get to try the four beers that Steelhead regularly has on tap; Hairy Weasel Hefeweizen, Barracuda Blonde, Raging Rhino Red, and the popularly named U.C.I.P.A. You also get to try their two seasonal brews, which have included such personal favorites as Lord Stanley Stout, Titanium Stout (12%!), Espresso Stout (caffeine and beer!), and Christmas Stout (taste the holly!). What can I say? Chubby pandas like stout beers.
There's a particular type of person who only goes to pubs to drink, and I have no intention of being one of those people. For someone like me, Steelhead offers a number of tasty nibbles to keep me away from the bad place. The food here isn't anything to write home about, but it offers a nice accompaniment to your brews.
One of my regular orders is a Twelve Pack of Wings. Twelve chicken wings and drumletts are floured, deep-fried, and tossed in hot sauce before being served with blue cheese dressing and a few token sticks of celery. A decent rendition of Buffalo Wings using a cute alias, the Twelve Pack of Wings is a good starter to split with friends, and offers a nice bit of heat just begging to be quenched with beer.
Mr. Big and Nahoko like to order the Mound of Fries with cheese. A pound of French fries is covered with a shredded cheese blend before serving. This dish is too heavy to be my cup of tea, but the fries are properly crispy on the outside and mealy on the inside, and the heat from the fries thoroughly melts the cheese. I didn't try any, but my friends were quite happy with this.
If I'm having dinner, I like to go for something a bit lighter. Steelhead's Smoked Salmon Appetizer makes for a satisfying meal that doesn't leave you feeling bloated. Generous pieces of hot-smoked salmon are served with toasted baguette slices, cucumber slices, leafy greens, and a zesty salsa of chopped red onions, smoked red peppers, diced fresh tomatoes, and capers. I discard the sour cream on top.
When I feel like treating myself to something more substantial, I get the Grilled Ahi Sandwich and ask that the ahi be seared on the outside and as rare as they can make it on the inside. The slab of marinated and grilled ahi is served on a whole wheat bun with the usual onion, lettuce, tomato, and pickle accompaniments. I'm not really sure what that white sauce is, but I think either sour cream or yogurt feature prominently in the recipe. It adds a nice twang to the simple flavors of the meaty sandwich. You also get a choice of fries, green salad, or Caesar salad. I get the green salad undressed with a little crumbled Blue cheese or feta on the side.
The Steelhead Brewing Company - Carrying old pub traditions into latter-day life. Relax and forget about everyday cares with hearty food and unique beer. Best enjoyed responsibly and with friends.
The Bill (Multiple visits):
The Sampler - 6.00
Twelve Pack of Wings - 9.95
Mound of Fries (one pound size with cheese) - 5.50
Smoked Salmon Appetizer - 9.95
Grilled Ahi Sandwich - 10.95
Flavor: B- (Averaged between food and beer.)
Steelhead Brewery Co.
4175 Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 92612
Steelhead Brewery Co.
199 East 5th Avenue
Eugene, OR 97401
Steelhead Brewery Co.
333 California Drive
Burlingame, CA 94010