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The Siren Call of Beer 

click to enlarge Drinks in the parlet. - PHOTO BY TIBORA BEA
  • Photo by Tibora Bea
  • Drinks in the parlet.

Soft gold and deep blue lights illuminate the impressive line-up of stemware behind the bar at Siren's Song Tavern in Old Town Eureka — something for every beer, ale, stout and sour on the menu. After quietly opening four years ago, the place has steadily built a solid reputation for craft beer and cider, eclectic shows and a creative space where everyone is welcome. Co-owners and visual artists Phyllis Barba and Matthew Oliveri previously operated an art gallery in Old Town. The duo was seeking a new medium to connect to the community when Humboldt State University professor Nate Swenson approached Barba about doing something with craft beer. A popular lecturer in Humboldt State's department of Forestry and Wildland Resources, Swenson has been a beer connoisseur for years. Through the marriage of Swenson's passion for microbrew culture to Barba and Oliveri's creative vision, Siren Song Tavern has become a hub for music, culture, art, beer and community.

Popping by on a Tuesday night, I peruse the craft cider selection while my friend orders a 13-ounce Brother Thelonious, a dark, frothy Belgian style ale from Mendocino County's North Coast Brewing. Throwing caution to the wind, I settle on a pint of Golden State Mighty Dry Cider, a bready, crisp cider that tops out at 7 percent alcohol. We settle into a navy tapestry couch that could easily fit in your great grandmother's formal parlor to enjoy our drinks. A communal table sits squarely in the middle of the tavern, where imbibing artists have gathered for a figure drawing class. Other nights, poets take advantage of the tavern's excellent acoustics to bear their souls on the mic.

"We'll try anything once," Oliveri explains. Priding itself on being an inclusive venue for Humboldt County, Siren Song has hosted an impressive and diverse range of shows over the years. Booking agents have taken notice, sending over touring punk and metal bands passing through Humboldt. A recent Sunday night punk show sold out long before the music started, a sign to the owners that their community wants more. Other weekends, the bill at Siren's Song features the twang of a local bluegrass group or a photographer's showcase. Once a month, there's even an evening of safe and positive BDSM education with a "less is more" dress code.

Too often, bars and restaurants can fail when trying to offer something for everyone. But Siren's Song is thriving by doing exactly that. A pair of old friends can enjoy a cozy afternoon visit with a cup of soup (Phyllis makes a big pot every week) and tea. You can peruse the encyclopedic beer menu or order up a cappuccino. Somewhere among the many beers, sours, ciders and kombuchas on tap, there'll be a brew just for you.

Styling by Lynn Leishman.


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