Beer in the Bay Area

So, obviously, a significant part of any trip I take is about the beers I can find and drink that I can't get here at home.  Therefore, I report here, the tales of my San Francisco beer adventure!

First night in the Bay area, we were in Redwood City, south of SF. We went to an English/Scottish gastropub type place called Martins West, which had a very nice selection of beers on draft. I started with an Evil Twin by Heretic Brewing, which was fantastic. Such a well balanced beer.

 Had a Honey Saison from Almanac Beer Co., out of San Francisco. I had a sample before committing- but I was impressed. It's a very nice saison, the yeast, hops, spices, and honey balanced nicely. I recommended it to someone sitting next to me, who dismissed it as "something girls drink" and therefore I needed to hold forth and lecture about what girls ACTUALLY DRINK. Which is to say, everything.

The next day I enjoyed a Scrimshaw Pilsner with my oysters at the Ferry Building (I'd recommended it to the guy at the bar as a really good pilsner the night before, so it was fresh in my mind) which was a very pleasant pairing. Also at the Ferry Building, I found a wine store that had a lovely beer selection, including a selection of Russian River beer, which made me so happy to see.

A little later, at Pier 23, I had a Big Daddy IPA from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, also out of San Francisco. It was a glorious day for a fresh, local, delicious beer:

 We watched the Blue Angels do their thing, and I also enjoyed a Lagunitas Czech Pils and a Fat Tire by New Belgium. Later I checked out the oldest bar in San Francisco, The Saloon, drank some bottles of Anchor Steam and had a a shot of Fernet, and danced to the live blues/jazz action they had going on. That was a fun place. The end of the evening brought me to The Boardroom, a great bar in North Beach, where I tried a Hell or High Watermelon Ale by 21st Amendment Brewery (another San Francisco brewery). It was pretty easy drinking and not super sweet or cloying. It was the end of a long day of walking and drinking, though, so my thirst may have been easily quaffed.

I ended my night back at my host's home in Redwood City with a beautiful and amazing wild ale from Russian River, Supplication:

Note: that's my chocolate shake from In-N-Out burger in the background
The next day was a special day- my pilgrimage to the Toronado. I arrived about 10 minutes before it opened at 11:30.

Once there, I took a look at the beer board:

You can't see in this picture, but all the way to the right is their selection of hand pump ales. I selected the Twist of Fate Bitter from Moonlight Brewing Company out of Santa Rosa. A locally brewed bitter style, served on cask? Yes please!

I next tried Boulder Beer Company's Freshtracks Wet-hopped Singletrack. Very nice. My third beer was very special though, Brouwerij Bockor's CuvĂ©e Des Jacobins Rouge, an excellent example of a Flanders Red Ale. My last beer at the Toronado (before I had to leave to go to the airport, sniff!) was a classic- Russian River Pliny the Elder. Before I left, however, I purchased a hoodie and struck a conversation up with the owner about the Toronado 25th Anniversary ale brewed by Russian River for them. They had no bottles for sale, but did have a 3 liter bottle that they're saving for a special occasion. He brought it out for a photo opp:

The Toronado is my happy place!

I was struck by how many small local breweries were in the area, in San Francisco proper, even. It would be great if New Orleans were more hospitable to developing more breweries within the parish limits.

Next time I go, I'll be bringing my beer suitcase with me. Didn't have the opportunity to do that for this trip, but there's always next time!


  1. still haven't had Pliny the Elder, is it all they say it is?


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