Sitting right at the entrance to California’s Central Coast wine country, sits a tiny town called Solvang. Of course, leave it to me to find the beer in such a small community, one appropriately called Solvang Brewing. A quaint enough place on the main drag in town, this Tudor building had an attached windmill that seemed to be a prerequisite for a town that serves as both Scandinavian refuge and central coast tourist trap. There was a small patio crowded with too many tables with umbrellas. Walking in, there was no lobby to speak of, with a host stand to the right and a merchandise display case.
We sat in the very loud bar area, which had some low have booths to the right and the bar to the left. There was a fully stocked, leather-topped bar, with a mirrored back and chalkboard menus. Red-brown padded leather lined the bottom of the bar. The ceiling was made of brown painted beams, molded to look roughly hewn. Toward the back and behind the host stand was even more seating. There really was nothing distinctive about the place. I would like to head back to check out the restaurant area; otherwise, it was just like any other bar.
I got a stein of their Helheim Black Rye IPA (7.5% abv). It poured dark brown with thin, sudsy white head. Aromas included a touch of rye spice and really not much else. The taste was hoppy at first, with some spiciness from the rye following. Light body and light-medium carbonation, it finished caramelly and bitter.