On the Hunt for Happy Hour in Healdsburg

In no particular order, five places in town that know the meaning of the tradition -- good beer at a better price.

Happy Hour is a rite of passage that most people eventually tire of, but at a certain point in young adulthood it seems like the most imporant thing in the world. Usually it means meeting up after work at a neighborhood hang-our for brews, specially priced for social incentive.

A couple other Patches in the area have given a run-down of the Top Five Happy Hours in their little patch ( did one, as did ), so maybe it’s time for Healdsburg to join the list.

But top five? Were there even five places that had a happy hour in town? Believe me, I did my research, and this is what I came up with. And that only by stretching the borders both of Healdsburg, and Happy Hour, to fill out the list.

The new classed-out tasting room that replaced the age-old Alexander Valley General Store closes down at 5pm, but never fear: Next door, the Alexander Valley Bar opens daily at 5, and serves draft beer and mixed drinks. Your Happy Hour is more like Happy Thursday, 9-5pm, when all draft beer is 2-for-1. That means for $4.75 you get two (count ‘em) drafts of Scrimshaw, Boont Amber, Racer 5 or Mad River Steelhead. Hey, that’s not bad! Bring a friend and share, or make one there. Great vineyard views and that new-bar smell.

Of course they have Happy Hour, this is a brewery! Not just one happy hour, but if you play your cards right you can drink great beer at great prices almost anytime during the week. Considering their world-class lineup of brews – Racer 5, Red Rocket, Hop Rod Ale, Big Bear Black Stout and many others, some seasonal – almost any hour is a happy one: Pints are only $4 for most of their drafts, save specialty brews. During their Monday-Friday Happy Hour, 4pm to 6pm, those $4 beers are $3.

But it gets better. If you wear a hat, shirt or other evidence that you work in the local industry, beer or wine, Tuesday is currently known as Two-Dollar Tuesday, all day. And Thursday? If you come in with “Bear Republic schwag,” and Erin O calls it, beers are only $3 on Thursday. You can buy a hat or t-shirt for about $15 on your way in, and start saving at once!

Insider’s tip: “Two Dollar Tuesday” may be up for a name change after the first of July, if you know what I mean. So this Tuesday may be your last chance. Break out that industry wear, and I’ll see you there.

HBG is another restaurant that has a bar, beers on tap, and an official daily Happy Hour, 3pm – 5:30 pm. But they don’t feature their selective lineup of draft beers, but bottles and well drinks. $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon (just say PBR and save yourself the embarrassment), and $3 domestic bottle beers and well drinks. There are plenty of TV screens, so if an afternoon game is on and you have the day off, it’s a good place to plant yourself.

The thing about HBG is that their focus is increasingly on the kitchen, not the bar. In fact of all the Cyrus Dynasty of Eateries – HBG, Cyrus and Shimo Modern Steak – HBG brings in the most money. True, I have it on good authority. And they don’t make it with $2 PBRs, believe me.

Now this one you might not suspect, possibly because even finding it can be a challenge. It’s behind the La Crema tasting room just down south of the Plaza, on Healdsburg Ave. It’s worth finding, though, for the Affronti Happy Hour between 4 and 6:00 pm most days. Food is important here, since it’s a restaurant named for the chef, so there’s a daily $5 bar menu of specials like sliders, shrimp cocktail, hummus and chips and the like. Draft beers run $3 (a limited but well-chosen selection), house wine is $4, and cocktails are shaved to between $5 and $7 – about a $2 saving down the line.

Happy hour at Affronti is hit or miss, though – sometimes it’s a busy social scene, and sometimes it’s dead. But as long as they’re open it’s worth checking out – since they’re closed Tuesdays and Wednesday, and only operate for brunch on Sunday, happy hours are Monday and Thursday- Saturday.

The newest entry into the Healdsburg Happy Hour Sweepstakes is DiVine, the pizza place at Dry Creek and Healdsburg Ave. We’ve admired their wine list and draft beer selection before, and this summer they’re taking to plunge into Happy Hour.

As of this week, the DiVine Happy Hour is from 3 – 6pm, seven days a week. Draft domestics are $2, draft microbrews are only $3, and there’s an appetizer menu of 7 items at $5 each. Microbrews at a pizza parlor? “We have the biggest tap selection of microbrews in Healdsburg,” said owner Michael Kenney . How many? “Thirteen.” Bear Republic, Lagunitas, Moonlight, Boonville, and many other favorites on tap. Outside dining area and good sports TV awareness means DiVine’s in the running.


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