Being a pioneer is always risky: make the right choice, and you've struck gold, but make the wrong choice and you've struck cholera for your wife, and your hand against a rudimentary startup screen featuring a dot-matrix rattlesnake. Forging the river of mid-valley beer bars: The Blue Dog Beer Tavern. Located just next to the 405 in a former dental office (which now looks like a mid-construction Victorian home, thanks to wood lattices, antique light fixtures, and a bar and walls made from the room's original 1940's-era floors) the Blue Dog's Sherman Oaks first true beer bar started by two guys who decided to open it after looking for a place to have a good beer in the Oaks and ending up at P.F. Chang's, which would already be the joke if it weren't true. To slake the valley's thirst, they've craft-stocked the bar with eight rotating taps (Old Rasputin Stout, Scrimshaw, Green Flash West Coast IPA, etc), as well as a slew of bottles (Old Speckled Hen, Allagash White, He'Brew Pomegranate Ale, etc) and a simple wine selection that includes only a house white and red, meaning you could flip a quarter to make your decision, or just order beer like EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE BAR. To soak up the brews, the Dog's also got a dolled-up bar-food menu, with takes on classics like an Old Rasputin-battered fish & chips, St. Louis spare ribs soaked in rootbeer and bourbon, and the "Panzerotti" -- basically, pizza dough with ingredients from meatballs to mozzarella to peperoncinis wrapped inside, and then dipped into a fryer, in case you've recently issued your heart an ultimatum. The Blue Dog's also got exactly one macrobrew (a 24oz PBR tallboy), and, due to permitting, is only open until 11pm, at which time you'll round up the wagons and follow the trail over the hill, to get your (Fort) Bragg on.