Ale Arsenal

971 Laurel StreetSan Carlos, CA 94070
Nearby Places
  • Nearby The Refuge San Carlos
  • Nearby Associated Podiatry Group of San Carlos
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Beverages
RECOMMENDATIONS - Alpha Acid Fruit Punch Belmonter Berliner Weisse · 4.5% · Belmont, CA Draft $8 - Jackie O's Bourbon Barrel Brick Kiln Barley Wine · 11.8% · Athens, OH 6oz Draft $9 - ON TAP Alpha Acid Barrel Constrictor Imperial Stout · 14.3% · Belmont, CA 6oz Draft $8 - Alpha Acid Fruit Punch Belmonter Berliner Weisse · 4.5% · Belmont, CA Draft $8 - Cellarmaker How The West Was Fun Double IPA · 8.5% · San Francisco, CA Draft $8 - Cellarmaker Mo' Nelson IPA · 7.1% · San Francisco, CA 16oz Draft $8 - Faction Anomaly Milk Stout · 6.5% · Alameda, CA 16oz Draft $8 - Fair Isle Rachelle Saison · 5.6% · Seattle, WA Draft $11 - Finnriver Black Currant Cider Cider · 6.5% · Chimacum, WA Draft $9 - Finnriver Finn River Black Currant Cider Cider · 6.5% · Chimacum, WA 12oz Draft $9 - Jackie O's Bourbon Barrel Brick Kiln Barley Wine · 11.8% · Athens, OH 6oz Draft $9 - Moonlight Death & Taxes Dark Lager · 5.0% · Santa Rosa, CA 0.5L Draft $7 - New Glory + Moksa Mallow Blaster Pastry Stout · 15.5% · Sacramento, CA Draft $7 - Occidental Hefeweizen German Hefeweizen · 4.5% · Portland, OR 16oz Draft $7 - Pure Project + Alvarado Street Cup Of Gold NE/Hazy DIPA · 8.4% · San Diego, CA 12oz Draft $7 - Pure Project Rain Pilsner · 5.3% · San Diego, CA Draft $8 - Russian River Blind Pig IPA · 6.25% · Santa Rosa, CA Draft $7 - Russian River Velvet Glow Helles Lager · 4.75% · Santa Rosa, CA Draft $7 - Sante Adairius Left And Leaving American Pale Ale · 6.8% Draft $8 - Side Project Biere Blanche #3 Witbier · 5.0% · Saint Louis, MO 12oz Draft $12 - There Does Not Exist Stag American Pale Ale · 5.5% · San Luis Obispo, CA Draft $7 - Tilquin Oude Gueuze Tilquin à l'Ancienne Lambic - Gueuze · 6.0% · Rebecq, Belgium 6oz Draft $9 - Wondrous Beautiful Breakdown IPA · 6.3% · Emeryville, CA Draft $8 - Wondrous Formulator Doppelbock · 8.2% · Emeryville, CA Draft $7 - Wondrous The Æons Torn Triple IPA · 10.2% · Emeryville, CA 8oz Draft $6 - BOTTLES 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Lambic - Gueuze · 6.0% · Teirlinckplein Beersel 375ml Bottle $13 - Cellarmaker Syrah Shorty Sour Ale · 5.5% · San Francisco, CA 750ml Bottle $16 - JW Lees Harvest Ale 2016 Barley Wine · 11.5% · Middleton, Greater Manchester 275ml Bottle $9 - Jackie O's Endolith Barrel Aged · 13.6% · Athens, OH 375ml Bottle $17 - Jackie O's Scrip Grisette · 4.5% · Athens, OH 500ml Bottle $10 - Jackie O's Vanilla & Coffee Bean Bourbon Barrel Dark Apparition Imperial Stout · 12.8% · Athens, OH 375ml Bottle $16 - Perennial Abraxas 2021 Quadruple Stout · 11.5% · St. Louis, MO 750ml Bottle $25 - Prairie Barrel Aged Moose Boots Imperial Stout · 13.4% · Krebs, OK 12oz Bottle $15 - Põhjala öö Xo (Cellar Series) Barrel Aged · 11.5% · Tallinn, Estonia 11.2oz Bottle $8 - Russian River Intinction Merlot Sour Ale · 7.0% · Santa Rosa, CA 375ml Bottle $16 - Russian River Intinction Sauvignon Blanc American Wild Ale · 8.25% · Santa Rosa, CA 375ml Bottle $16 - Russian River Propitiation Sour Ale · 7.0% · Santa Rosa, CA 375ml Bottle $10 - Russian River Supplication Flanders Red Ale · 7.0% · Santa Rosa, CA 375ml Bottle $16 - Tilquin Oude Gueuze Tilquin à l'Ancienne Lambic - Gueuze · 6.0% · Rebecq, Belgium 375ml Bottle $14 - Yeast of Eden Lasting Melody American Wild Ale · 8.0% · Carmel-by-the-Sea 750ml Bottle $29 - CANS Alvarado Street Juice Bumps NE/Hazy DIPA · 8.0% · Monterey, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans $24 - Alvarado Street Mai Tai IPA IPA · 6.5% · Monterey, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans $19 - Alvarado Street Pink Limo Dads Sour Ale · 8.0% · Monterey, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans $24 - Alvarado Street Turbid Diesel NE/Hazy TIPA · 10.4% · Monterey, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans $28 - Cellarmaker Mo' Nectaron IPA · 6.8% · San Francisco, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans - Evil Twin Devil Child Barley Wine · 12.0% · Brooklyn, NY 16oz Can $7 - Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Chili Hazelnut Break Imperial Stout · 11.5% · Brooklyn, NY 16oz Can $7 - Great Notion Big Papaya Sour Ale · 6.5% · Portland, OR 16oz 4 Pack Cans $24 - Humble Sea + Cloudburst HS4 NE/Hazy IPA · 7.0% · Santa Cruz, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans $24 - Humble Sea + Electric HS5 NE/Hazy TIPA · 10.2% · Santa Cruz, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans $28 - Humble Sea + Firestone Walker Seavo Pils Czech Pilsner · 5.3% · Santa Cruz, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans $20 - Humble Sea Surf Van NE/Hazy IPA · 6.6% · Santa Cruz, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans $24 - Pure Project Cloud Mountain NE/Hazy DIPA · 8.5% · San Diego, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans $27 - Pure Project Formless Reflections IPA · 6.9% · San Diego, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans $24 - Sincere Apple Dry Cider Semi-Sweet Cider · 5.6% · Oakland, CA 16oz Can $5 - There Does Not Exist Festbier Oktoberfest · 5.2% · San Luis Obispo, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans $20 - There Does Not Exist Stag American Pale Ale · 5.5% · San Luis Obispo, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans $20 - Wondrous Beautiful Breakdown IPA · 6.3% · Emeryville, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans $24 - Wondrous Hell Helles Lager · 5.1% · Emeryville, CA 16oz 4 Pack Cans $24
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About

Ale Arsenal

“You have probably never been to Ale Arsenal. You have probably never even heard of Ale Arsenal.

The 9-year-old craft beer bar sits on the quiet end of San Carlos’ usually bustling Laurel Street. From the outside, the 49-seater looks like any ol’ neighborhood bar, and from the inside it looks like … any ol’ neighborhood bar, except with a theme inspired by World War II aircraft nose art and a replica bomber payload that perilously hangs from the ceiling (don’t worry, it really only weighs 20 pounds).

The bar is run by Lauren Bozicevic, who opened the place in 2012 with her brother Kyle — a former brewer at Devil’s Canyon who left Ale Arsenal two years in to go launch his own brewery: Belmont’s Alpha Acid. The pair were born and raised in Redwood City, lived together in Santa Cruz while they were in college and started the venture to save them a train trip to San Francisco every time they wanted to drink the craft beers they loved in a bar.

Turns out, the craft beers they loved were in short supply on the Peninsula.

“We were the first bar in San Mateo County to have (Russian River’s) Pliny the Younger,” says Bozicevic, who’s seated outside of the still-closed bar the last week in April. She’s wearing a flowery blouse and finds a rhythm talking about the bar she spent almost a decade perfecting. “We were the first place to have Humble Sea, Alvarado, Altamont, Fieldwork, Sante Adairius …”

Basically if there’s a coveted craft brewery anywhere in or around the Bay Area that’s stacking up beer awards, they’re likely already on tap at Ale Arsenal.

“Now if you want Humble Sea, you’re going to be on a wait list for a year, if you can even get it at all.”

Bozicevic’s tone is less bragging and more beaming — she’s proud because of the work that went into getting all of them on one of the bar’s 24 taps.

“We approached them early,” she explains. “If there was kind of a buzz going around something, we would reach out to them often before they were even open.”

Having a brother for a brewer and business partner certainly didn’t hurt.

“We’re best friends,” Lauren Bozicevic says. “We still constantly ask each other for advice on what he should do over there or what I should do over here.”

Including when the world shut down for 14 months.

Bozicevic kept Ale Arsenal closed for the entirety because of the constantly moving goalposts for bars and a front patio with only eight chairs. She lived off savings before eventually getting a job at her brother’s brewery bartending (“It was really nice working with him again, ‘cause it had been a long time”). She was bombarded by neighbors and social media about if and when the bar would open again, and lost all of her staff to unemployment.

She applied for two government loans and was denied the first, but landed the second — a PPP loan for just under $50,000, according to ProPublica, which Bozicevic estimates isn’t even half of what she lost during the shutdown. She also got a rent reduction from her landlord, though that goes away soon and helped prompt the 38-year-old to reopen the bar for the first time last week.

Bozicevic doesn’t want to talk about the pandemic though.

“Everybody’s been through so much, they don’t need to hear about my problems.”

She does want to keep talking about what people are coming back to though.

“I think what people loved about this place, it wasn’t just the beer, it was kind of their community,” she says.

I drop by to see the community in person Tuesday.

There’s an NBA playoff game on one TV, the Giants game on another, and, of course, Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” on the third. None of them have sound on. Instead, Jurassic 5’s “Monkey Bars” provides the bar’s soundtrack as beers flow from the taps into customers’ glasses.

A decent-sized to-go beer fridge slides open and closed dozens of times as folks pop in for roadies or outdoor cans.

There are eight people seated inside, most of them deep in a heated conversation about how far the Warriors would’ve gone had Klay Thompson been healthy (the answer seems to be “far”).

Bozicevic emerges from behind an employees-only curtain to change two kegs, then pops over to say hello.

I find out her inspirations for the bar were, not surprisingly, San Francisco beer institution Toronado and Oakland’s dearly departed Beer Revolution, and basically her entire staff is made up of former customers.

“Every employee we’ve had was a former customer at one point,” she says. “That’s worked really well for us. I’ve never had to rely on a Craigslist ad.”

I’m half-distracted talking to Bozicevic thanks to a wall of foreign money that surrounds a framed picture of an adorable little dog in a Giants hat. There are lots of local dogs enshrined on the wall, along with origami dollar bills that are surprisingly fun to stare at.

Before I can ask another question, Bozicevic is gone, off to figure out how they’re going to get beers from the long-anticipated Wondrous Brewery in Emeryville.

“You’ve really just got to approach them early,” she says.

From “How Ale Arsenal, a tiny bar on a quiet block, landed one of the best beer selections in the Bay Area” by The Daily: Bay Area’s Best Free Local Newsletter

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