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Let's eat.

From Big Sur's killer cliff-clinging eateries to Salinas' unparalleled produce, this blog aims to sniff out all things Monterey County can stomach, via picture and prose, curiosity and appetite, hand and mouth.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Free Beer and a Super Bar Sandwich

What's better than drinking good IPA in the day time?

a) Not much.
b) Adding arguably the best bar sandwich in the area code to the mix.
c) Getting free tastes of a new IPA and free pint glasses.
d) All of the above.

Congrats, class: D is correct. Yesterday the Bulldog in New Monterey, as fine a neighborhood bar as I know—and voted precisely that by our readers in years past (in addition to the Best Bar for Darts in Monterey County for several years running)—had an IPA tasting from New Belgium, the people behind Fat Tire and Skinny Dip beers. (For a look at all of this year's winners, click here.)

It sounded like a great excuse to head down for the last throes of their 4-7pm happy hour and grab a Red Devil chicken sandwich (above), my bacon-avocado-jack-spicy aioli-smothered submission for best bar sandwich in the area. If you don't agree, I challenge you to e-mail your nominee to and I promise I'll try it out.

And it actually did get better because I met John the Jade Hunter-Halibut Slayer (above) of Bulldog-neighbor Bamboo Reef (voted Best Dive Shop) down there. Not only can he spin some yowser yarns—about being pulled from caves by sea lions or dragged to deeper water by a huge halibut he just speared or lifting 4-ton boulders of granite from the depths by inflating 19 truck tire inner tubes around it—he could break down what we were tasting since he brews his own beer and used to work as quality control chief at Monterey Brewing Company.

"When I was in college I dreamed of a job like that," he said. "Where you get fired for not drinking."

He also dreams of IPA. He liked the Ranger IPA New Belgium's Todd Dudley was pouring, particularly the up-front character of its Cascade hops and the impressive "juggling act" it took to balance a healthy IPA bitterness with a smooth flavor that doesn't sting the throat.