Ah, the fall season.
More than looking at the date on the calendar or watching the leaves turning colors (we don’t have much change in seasons where we live, anyway), how does one recognize the arrival of fall?
For me it’s the noticeable shortening of daylight, warm days followed by cool nights, and a growing number of pumpkin beers appearing on store shelves. The biggest marker of all, however, is Saturdays focused on Cal football. Beer and football. Now there’s an undeniable sign that fall has arrived.
During college in the late ‘80s-early ‘90s, our ritual included walking the one mile from our apartment to Henry’s at the Durant Hotel near campus. The place would be packed with students and alumni alike, which turned the pub into a roaring sea of blue and gold. At first, our drink of choice was Henry’s signature concoction, the Golden Bear, which if memory serves me, was 151, vodka, and champagne with a splash of orange juice. Two of those and I was ready to endure the oft times disappointing games. Once craft beer came into our lives, we switched to Golden Bear, a lager brewed by the now closed Golden Pacific in Berkeley.
When Barclay’s, a pub in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood, opened in 1991 we incorporated it into the ritual. We left home, stopped at Barclay’s for a beer or two, continued walking up to Henry’s to have a Golden Bear, and eventually we were off to the stadium. Later, we dropped Henry’s in favor of longer sessions at Barclay’s. All this in time for kick off, which for many years was 12:30pm.
Then came a major shift. In 1994, we moved back down to the Monterey Peninsula, an hour and a half away. So what did we do? Well, we had to maintain the beer-Cal football ritual, so we simply commenced our football days an hour and a half earlier.
During any other time of the year, people might call us rigid, ritualistic, creatures of habit or even perhaps stuck in a rut. However, during football season, no matter what the ritual, it becomes tradition.
For over twenty years we’ve gone to great lengths to maintain our tradition. This year, however, is going to be the biggest challenge ever to our game day routine. With the renovation of Memorial Stadium, the games have been moved to AT&T Park in San Francisco.
So what does this do to our ritual/tradition? Well, so far there’s been only one “home” game. We drove to Fremont and took BART into the City. From there it was pre-game beers at City Beer Store (such a sacrifice) and the Public House (another major sacrifice) and 21st Amendment post-game. Oh, the suffering we’ve endured so far to maintain our beer-Cal football tradition…*insert Scarlet O’Hara dramatic swoon here*
The next game is USC on Thursday, October 13. We plan to hit the grand opening of the newly expanded City Beer Store for our pre-game beers. And believe me, we’re probably going to need them. But such is the life of a craft beer loving Cal football fan…Go Beers! Uh, I mean Go Bears!