People everywhere are looking for authenticity. Exactly what is authentic and what isn’t might be up for debate, but in a world where so much is contrived and fake and plastic, we crave realness whenever we can get it. We want our food to be real, our politicians to be real, our spirituality to be real, and of course, we want our beer experience to be real as well. As a pastor, I meet people regularly who are sick of slick, over-produced religious stuff and instead are looking for something more authentic. As a beer drinker, I meet people regularly who are looking for an authentic place to try real beer.
There are a number of places to get a good beer in Davis and each has its unique benefits. Yet I’ve often heard people asking for something else, something a little different, something a little more…real. Usually, the next thing people say is, “What Davis really needs is a brewpub. You know, a real one.” What a real brewpub looks like might also be up for debate, but what it feels like might just be a bit like the Sudwerk Dock Store.
Simply put, it doesn’t get much more real or authentic than this. Most Davisites are familiar with Sudwerk – the local microbrewery that started with a vision to create authentic (there it is again) German lagers right here in Northern California. What you may not be familiar with is the option to experience Sudwerk in a whole other way. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, the loading dock of the warehouse (thus, the Dock Store moniker) is transformed ever so slightly into a brew pub. In truth, it isn’t much of a transformation so much as they lift the garage door and give you a pint glass. But that only adds to the authenticity of the place.
With 4 taps sticking out of a magical wall only slightly obscuring the giant brewing equipment behind it and a makeshift “bar” set up in front of those taps, the loading dock turns into a tap room with little to no seating, little to no ambience, and little to no pretension. But that is all part of the fun. There isn’t anything fake about the Dock Store. This is a place for beer drinkers. Real ones.
The beer on tap varies, so you never know what you’ll get, but it will always be something other than the standard Sudwerk brews. We all know the brewers are back there playing around, trying new things, innovating – you know, being real brewers – as well as crafting the standard Sudwerk lagers. Only now they’ve peeled back the curtain, or in this case, the garage door, to not only let us peek but to let us taste their playful creations as well. It might be a blend, a mash, or something unfiltered; even a purely experimental idea a brewer thought of, then brewed, then stuck a tap in and poured. What they used to do with all that beer I don’t know. Now, they are serving it up to the delight of authenticity (beer) seekers all over Davis.
The Dock Store has some of what you are looking for in a brewpub: a mug club where your own personalized mug hangs on the wall awaiting your return to be filled with discount pints, different, unique, authentic brews unavailable anywhere else, a focus on the beer as opposed to the food, and so forth. It could do with a little more seating and a little less flies, but what it lacks in ambience and insect control it makes up for in authenticity. In that sense, maybe that’s all part of the package – in order to be authentic it can’t be completely controlled and manipulated and perfect (neither can church, I suppose) because that wouldn’t be as, well, as real. You are essentially drinking beer in the loading dock, after all.
If that bothers you and you don’t like a fork lift occasionally hauling kegs of beer to and fro steps away from where you are standing, this might not be your place. But if you are looking for an authentic joint to try the latest creations of the brewers at Sudwerk, this is it. You won’t like everything on tap, but that isn’t the point. The point is in the experience, the realness of it, the authenticity of trying a variety of real beers, brewed by real folks who are walking around in a real brewery in which you are really standing. If you are thirsty for a little authenticity with your beer, make your way over to the Dock Store when the garage door is up and the taps are flowing. Its a little pour of real in a world with far too much fake.