Visiting the city by the bay is always a great experience, assuming you can get out and enjoy San Francisco’s beauty – food, sites and (of course) beer. As the progenitor of most all craft brewing, the SF area still creates some fine and unique beer apprecation moments. In fact, it was a trip to SF in the mid 1980’s that introduced me unawares to craft beer for the first time – my first encounter with Anchor Steam actually started me down this beer appreciation path.
In most areas around the bay fresh local craft beer is easily located. Around the street from my hotel I found “Thirsty Bear” a local establishment specializing in organic craft beer and spanish cuisine. A worthy start for the night.
But to continue the experince, a friend Lars and I hit the Haight and wandered happily (though a bit bleery in my case) from one great beer to another. It was very hard to leave the first brewery – Magnolia – located at Masonic and Haight in what was an old apothecary shop. Beer after beer was fresh, hoppy (when it should be) and hoppiest (when it had to be!). Hard to leave the “Proving Ground IPA”, but I knew the there was more to come.
After ducking into a couple of other beer bars on the way, we ended up at the Toronado, one of the most amazing beer bars in the country for many many years. As I recall it was one of the few bars to get Tom Peter’s Monks Sour outside of Philadelphia when introduced, as well as Samichlaus on Tap! While not exactly a posh place, it’s bone fide and awash with great beer.
We were not disappointed with the selections, as I tried some local and exotic fare (Moonlight‘s “Death and Taxes” and from Anchorage Midnight Sun’s potent (8.5 ABV) “Panty Peeler“) that both tickled my palate, and at the same time reminded me the wisdom of not driving on this tour.
I didn’t even get to the Anchor Steam brewery or many other fine local places, though for one night, my beer appreciaton was complete. I left my heart there, that is for sure, but I plan to be back again as soon as I can.