The course itself carries on that fun vibe, too. Winding through city streets and local parks, the 5K route is dotted with hydration stations that dole out hot chocolate. Holiday music, a giant Santa inflatable, and snow blowers help to set
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Sometimes sipping a cold beer feels great. Sometimes sipping 18 cold beers feels better. Better than that? Joining hundreds of beer fans on the outfield of the Sacramento River Cats' home turf to sample beers from nearly 70 breweries while listening to live music. A joint effort of Raley Field and the Northern California Brewer’s Guild, the 2012 Raley Field Brewfest distills the thrills of a baseball game without the baseball or rabid mascots. Now in its sixth year, the sprawling celebration covers the playing field's quarter-mile semicircle with local craft-brew vendors, including Auburn Alehouse and Knee Deep Brewing Co., touting their frosty, frothy libations. Near second base, live bands bat good-time tunes into the air as hops and barley funnel into thankful gullets. VIPS gain daylight, vampire-free drinking privileges and bubbly bragging rights with early access and eight beers more than standard tickets.
Pyramid Alehouse pours a flavorful cascade of handcrafted draft beers, passing straight to the mug from the on-site brewery. Whether guests prefer a malty amber ale or a hoppy, Thunderhead IPA, Pyramid Alehouse’s vast menu of succulent cuisine and beer-infused bites are specially designed to complement every frothy glass. Pair down the sweetness of fruity apricot ale with a spicy platter of wheat-battered chicken wings served with louisiana hot sauce and blue cheese ($11). Or, absorb a double dose of unfiltered bavarian ale by pairing the Haywire Hefeweizen with a hearty helping of shepherd’s pie, featuring Haywire braised lamb stew, slathered over a pile of garlicy mashed potatoes, and topped with a puff pastry ($12). Though football and cheese-rolling season have almost finished, Pyramid Alehouse boasts a daily rotating lineup of food and drink specials to keep sports fans well fueled until the championship line-dancing semi-finals makes its triumphant return to prime time.
Downtown & Vine all but transports its guests to lush, rolling vineyards, stocking the fruits of a dozen wineries from across five regions surrounding Sacramento. The house sommelier, Gregg Lamer, curates the selection of more than 100 bottles that are served by the glass. Gregg regularly changes up the menu, but always highlights wines from local growers that use sustainable farming practices. The list includes Sonoma vintner, Iron Horse Vineyards—whose wines have been served at White House events hosted by the past five presidents; Shadow Ranch in Fairplay who exclusively uses solar power and organic farming methods; and Dillian, an Amador County farm in the Shenandoah Valley that's been handed down through four generations of Dillians.
To give palates something to do between sips, Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Kate Chomko has built a small, charming menu of farmhouse small plates and artisan grilled cheeses. The latter takes traditional comfort food and drags it into adulthood with inventive flavor combinations such as prosciutto and fig jam. Desserts get a similar upgrade with salted caramel cookies or the Basque cake served with crème fraiche and blood orange syrup. Diners tuck into the gustatory proceedings at intimate tables flanked by cushy chairs support tasting pairs, while the private Vintner's Room features an eye-catching glass table enclosing a riddling rack.