After finally starting to feel like I escaped wine jail…
our beer adventures felt like they were in full swing. Our second full day in San Francisco was definitely the best. We first visited the much-heralded 21st Amendment. This is a local brewpub (whose beers in cans are available nationally) that produces such beers as Hell or High Watermelon Wheat. Everyone I had talked to recommended this place. I have to say, I was slightly disappointed, which no one is more surprised about than me! Lauren and I split the sampler of the available brews, which included South Park Blonde, Trumer Pils, 5 South American Pale Ale, North Star Red, and Monk’s Blood Belgium Pale Ale. My favorite was definitely the North Star Red (second from left), but the others in the group enjoyed the Monk’s Blood the best. They all tasted OK, just not enough flavor for me. Overall, a little bland. Also, the pale ale could have used more hops. The stout probably had the most flavor but was a little liquidy feeling in my mouth. Not too much else to say about that establishment.
After that disappointment, we decided to try and walk over to another brewpub: The Thirsty Bear. Unfortunately, they were closed. Ugh. But sometimes, as they say, good things come to those who wait. And this was the case on this day because after the Thirsty Bear debaucle, we headed over to a brewpub recommended by our friend Laura‘s brother-in-law. Well, in my personal opinion, this was the highlight of the trip (as far as beer goes anyway)! The name: Magnolia Pub and Brewery. Super, super, super hoppy beers. YES! They offered quite the slathering of hoppy brews on tap as well as a few in cask. Our friend Matt started with the greatest name ever bequethed to a beer: Old Thunderpussy. The pub used to be an erotic store owned by an ex-stripper named Thunderpussy. So, I guess this is a tribute? I hope she knows how good her namesake beer is! It was a very unique brew. It was a barleywine, which is not my favorite syle, but was very good and might push me to drink more barleywines. It had a thick head that extended in a way I’ve never seen down into the liquid.
The next beer I had was quite possibly the finest I have EVER had. This is the only way I know to describe it: open up your Miscrosoft Word or similar program, open a blank document onto the screen, and hold the letter “m” for at least 5 minutes. Now, read what you just wrote. Getting the picture yet? It’s name? The Promised Land Imperial IPA on cask. Ooo, so this is what Moses in the Bible was searching for for 40 years. I bet this would taste great with manna! Anyway, this thing had a reddish color to it, and added a thick, white, foamy head. It had a slight bitter/sweet aroma, but not as bitter as I thought it would be. However, more than the surprise with the aroma, I had a surprise with the taste, and I’ll tell you why: if you take a peek at the list of beers in the pic I posted above, you can notice that this baby pumped 150 IBU – easily the highest IBU beer I’ve ever drank! So, what surprised me so much about this? That it was super smooth and not too hopped out. I tasted the sweetness and the hops, with some citrus and just a hint of pine, but it was incredibly drinkable. Well, it was drinkable to ME anyway; to others, maybe not so much:
Have I built a tolerance to such things???
Lauren drank a Saison de Lily, which she described to me as very refreshing, and although fruitiness in any beverage is not one of her favorite qualities, she said the fruitiness in this beer was perfect. It tasted a little fruity to me, but I agreed that it was refreshing and actually pretty delicious. For my second beer I had an Imperial Common, which was created jointly by the SF Brewers Guild, whatever that means. Even though it only had 45 IBU it seemed hoppier than the previous beer, and although was good in its own right, was not as drinkable as the other. Lauren didn’t even attempt this one! And lastly, for Lauren’s second beer, she enjoyed a Weekapaug Gruit. Quite honestly, I have no idea what kind of beer this was. I only had one sip (mostly because I was too into my own beers) but I do remember it being thick feeling.
My seemingly fast experience of San Francisco ended quite possibly in the most perfect way: with tasting one of the widely-considered not only best beers in America but one of the best beers in the world: Pliny the Elder. Offered year round, unlike its sibling Pliny the Younger (which is supposed to be even better!), this imperial IPA tasted as good as expected. I sampled this glorious brew at a restaurant later that evening. I knew this may have been my last chance to try it, so when I saw it on the menu my mind was easily made up.
I was slightly upset the waitress decided to poor it for me (don’t mean to sound pompous but she didn’t pour correctly) because not much head was formed. It had a citrus aroma to it, but not too citrusy. The taste was not nearly as hoppy as I thought it would be, and I don’t know how else to describe it other than well-rounded. Sweet, citrusy, piny, and bitter were all present. Almost too drinkable, as I believe I would never have gotten tired of drinking it. It also had almost a creamy mouthfeel with some carbonation. Overall: amazing. This will now be entered into my top ten beers. Now, I just have to figure out how to get it in Boston!
So, my wonderful trip to San Francisco ended, as do all great things. I unfortunately didn’t make it to as many places as I wanted to visit, beer-wise, but I guess that just means I will have to return sooner than later! So my recommendation, go to San Francisco and experience it for yourself if you haven’t already. And if you do, let me know where you go and what you do so I can start planning for next time!