I recently went to San Francisco for a few days with my fiance. While I was there I spent some time with relatives in Fremont and Oakland. Most importantly, I got to try a number of beers from around the area. As you will see, not all of the beers I tried were from San Francisco itself, but I couldn’t resist a chance to try some beers I might not see in San Diego for a while. This will be a multiple part post starting with the beers I enjoyed in other bars in outlying areas. Then I will split into two or three posts the beers I enjoyed within the city of San Francisco itself.
One brewery I saw quite a few times represented was Drake’s Brewing from San Leandro. I didn’t get to actually visit the brewery but various beers from there were on tap at the different places I visited. The more I saw from them, the more I was glad I got to try their beers. The first day I was in town we went down for High Tea at a teahouse and after that my fiance decided to do some shopping nearby so I escaped to a small bar nearby for a pint. I was disappointed that they served beer in chilled glasses but I didn’t want to waste good beer so I didn’t send it back.
I got to try a nice local Irish Red that was typical for the style while my friend ordered a Denogginizer from Drake’s Brewing. It was too early in the day for a double IPA so I was glad I didn’t order one myself but I ended up having a good enough taste from the beer to get a good idea of the flavors. Though it looked a bit darker it was not overly malty. The beer had a nice grapefruit flavor up front and tasted almost like a double version of Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA.
After leaving this small bar, we hung out a while before heading over to Tied House in Mountain View for beer and dinner. I was excited when I saw various single hop IPAs available to let me get a good flavor profile for the hop used. I tried a small taste of the two different IPAs before settling on the Chinook Single Hop IPA.
Despite the dark color, this beer had a nice forward hop flavor. The Chinook hop gave it a good pine flavor that came through nicely. It was a solid balanced beer. After enjoying the single hop beers, I tried a few of the double IPAs available and the barleywine. I was not impressed by either of them enough for me to try more than a taster of either. I simply recall the doubles as being too malty for my tastes.
The beer selection was solid at Tied House and I was overall quite satisfied by the food. My friend indicated that this was the first place in a long time where they actually gave him extra crispy fries. I found the fish tacos quite delicious with a pineapple habanero sauce (though it was not as hot as I might have hoped). My first day in the area was a success and I wish now I had gotten more Drake’s beer than I did.
Hess has been around for a while. They started out as a nanobrewery and for a long time were one of the smallest breweries around the Mira Mesa area. Slowly but surely they expanded their reach and this year they opened a brewery in North Park. Sadly, the Mira Mesa tasting room still uses plastic cups for the tasters and they charge a premium for the chance to get your tasters in a glass. Considering that some of the smaller breweries out there use glass for their tasters it seems a bit quaint that they would stick with this route. Part of why I didn’t go back since my last visit was the plastic cups used for everything.
Beer wise, Hess has an interesting selection. They are not the place to go if you like heavy hop flavors in your beers. Today I got to try a few tasters because the selection was so large that I couldn’t possibly try everything, though I am not sure I will go back to finish out the rest. The Pumpkin Stout was interesting and I had it both on tap and on nitro. Though it has a nice creamy flavor it was not particularly impressive. There wasn’t a lot of pumpkin flavor in the beer to make it stand out from the rest of the pumpkin beers, and also not much spice flavor either. Still, as a stout it was really good even if it did not have the flavor to match its high 8% abv.
The IPA was interesting in that it wasn’t insanely malty like some and wasn’t insanely hopy either. So it was a nice balanced brew and had some solid hop flavors. Still, it did not do enough to compete with some of the better IPAs I have had recently, especially the Perseus IPA from Intergalactic. The Belgian American Pale was the standout from what I had this day. It has the sweet flavors of a Belgian beer with the added bitterness of a pale. I wasn’t about to order a pint in plastic cups though. I finished off with a taster of the Rye Imperial Stout. It had a solid stout flavor with the chocolate flavors but did not really impress me compared to other similar beers I have had recently.
Compared to some of the upstart breweries around here, I would suggest you give Hess a try if you like the Belgian flavors. Hop heads should look elsewhere for now. I probably won’t be back until they start using glasses.
I’ll be the first to admit that the Nut Brown at Alesmith is a solid beer but doesn’t really impress me. I have learned though that it is never a good idea to pass up a chance to try a barrel aged version of a beer even if you are not a big fan of the underlying beer. Most of the time this means the beer is aged in a bourbon barrel. This gives most beers a hint of bourbon flavor, and so works really well with brown ales and ambers.
I was so impressed by the flavor of this beer that I had two pints. Usually the beers I enjoy are so strong that this is not possible without stumbling out on the street but since this is only 5% I really enjoyed having two pints. The bourbon flavors are relatively mild with this one so that it does not overpower the flavor of the nut brown. If you stop by the brewery and see this available, be sure to order at least a taster so you can see if this is the beer for you.
I hope all my readers in the United States had a wonderful Thanksgiving day yesterday. It isn’t Thanksgiving without beer so I was ready with two growlers from some local breweries to share with my family. I had a 32oz growler of Intergalactic Perseus IPA, which by this point many of my family thought tasted like Sculpin (a huge compliment). It was interesting to taste the way the flavor changed since it was fresh a month ago or so. I also opened a bottle of Rough Draft Eraser IPA after the Perseus, which followed nicely. For dessert, I had a 32oz growler of Rough Draft Stout, just what my friends love. They were glad that I thought of them to bring some of their favorite beer fresh.
For Black Friday many of my local breweries had special beers available but they weren’t open very early so I decided instead to reward myself for my restraint yesterday and open a bottle of Stone Punishment I had waiting in the wine fridge (now beer fridge). The less chilled temperatures were perfect for this beer to let out the amazing flavors and heat.
I’m interested to hear what you had to celebrate and give thanks this year. Let me know in the comments.
I stopped by Intergalactic Brewing today to try out one of their new brews tapped just in time for Thanksgiving. I couldn’t resist the thought of an imperial pilsner. I can’t remember ever seeing one before intergalactic announced the Stellar Collision. This 8.8% monster hits hard with sweet apricot flavors and comes through with the rye at the end. Though it isn’t very dark it has a lot in common with more malt heavy double ipas. I delighted in the taster but I’m not so sure I could drink a pint of it.
The triple ipa is an enormous 11.5%. That’s no Moon Ipa explodes with grapefruit flavor. It rivals the Green Bullet though is slightly more malty. It is easily one of the best beers I have tasted from intergalactic and possibly the strongest ipa I’ve ever tasted. You never know how long new beers will last at intergalactic so stop by to give these a try before they are gone.