Sunday, February 22, 2009

Just how long was the line Saturday for the Barleywine fest?

Take a look at this, a pano made by Luis DiStefano ("lewbrew')

The entrance is just to the left of the "Pizza" sign on the far left. Click on the image to see it.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Some pictures of Triple Rock and Jupiter in Berekely. Will update with text later...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

SF Sunday Afternoon -- True Sake

After lunch and beer at Magnolia's, we headed over to Hayes Valley to visit True Sake -- a great sake store with a much better selection than we've been able to find in LA (hate to say that).

Its a small shop but the inside is chock full of sake. Tom and I each picked up 5-6 bottles for a future sake tasting. What this space for details...

SF Toronado Barleywine Festival -- the finish / Magnolia's

Amoung the four of us we had 28 four ounce glasses of barleywine, with an average ABV of over 10% - that is enough to feel a little tipsy. It was time for a walk and some food. So we headed down Haight to Magnolia's. But first, a shot of our table as we left...

The two orphans were from St. Stans and Pizza Port. I used to be a big fan of St Stans, but I haven't seen there beer in LA for ages. I exprected better of Pizza Port -- It tasted like the beer handn't been aged long enough. Was this a last minute replacement? Enquiring minds want to know.

It was time for some food and we hadn't been to Magnolia's yet so we hopped a bus down Haight to Masonic and went to Magnolia's. The were no tables available so we put our name in and went to the bar and ordered some beers: Antwerp's Pretender, Gose to Heaven and Blue Bell Bitter.

I'm not sure what the insperation for the Antwerps Pretender was, but the beer was clearly Belgian inspired. Tom had the Blue Bell Bitter and while it was well made, it had a too much dark malt in it. The Gose to Heaven was (I guess) inspired by Leipziger Gosebier but only inspired. There was a hit of corriander in there but it was not as tart as a true Gose and was way too strong (nearly 9%). But it was a delicious beer in any case.

Magnolia's always has an impressive number of beers on tap for a brewpubs. Here's the beer list, the draft handles and the cask handles...

The beer board

Draft beer taps

Cask beer handles

And finally a picture of our nice waitress, who kept us fed and "beered"

SF Toronado Barleywine Fest

Luis thought we needed something to clear our palate after all these sweet barleywines

I think this is the anti-barleywine!

Barleywine Fest

An hour in and we tasted the first 23 on the list (we ordered one duplicate by mistake but it was one we liked)

The consensus favorite so far is the Noggin Floggin from Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland. The Speakeasy Old Godfather, St Stans Bill's Brown Bag and Pizza Port 547Haight Street were disappointing. The rest were all good.

Snails Eye view of our Barleywines

Birds Eye View of our Barleywines

Fred doing his live blog

-- Post From My iPhone

SF Sunday Morning

After a great dim sum breakfast we headed over to the Toronado to stand in line. Luckily there are only 25 people ahead of us.

Well, we got in a got our usual table in the back room. 41 barleywines left on the list.

Our first flight

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Administrative Note

It may sound un-Patriotic of me, but Wireless Broadband service in the US sucks big time.

In every country in Europe where I've traveled it is possible to buy 3G wireless internet on a daily or monthly basis at a reasonable rate. But that is not possible in the US -- one must buy a monthly contract at $50-60 per month.

Why am I telling you this? The lack of wireless internet means that I can only "live blog" with my iPhone. While certainly better than nothing, it is not good for me. I have fat fingers so typing on the "soft keyboard" takes a long time -- I could be drinking beer instead. And the iPhone camera is not great in low light situations.

So I will make a short post with the iPhone and then later when I have internet access with my laptop I will update and expand on the short iPhone postings. So please scroll down and re-read what you may have already read -- it may have been updated. I will try and add "Updated" to the title, but I can't promise full compliance because I may be inebriated. And for those of you worried about it -- the car is parked for the duration and it is pubilc transport, taxis or Shank's Mare for us until Tuesday.

SF Saturday Afternoon -- Another try at the Toronado

About 4:15 we arrived at the Toronado it it was just as packed as this morning. We talked to the doorman and he said it never let up.

We forced our way to the bar in the back room and managed to order a round of tasters, all from Alaskan breweries. We like the Big Nugget from Alaskan Brewery the best. But it was just to crowded, even to stand, so we gave up and walked over to Suppenküche on Hayes for dinner and German beer.


We ordered a round of beer: Schneider Weisse for me, Weltenburger Dunkel for Tom and Mike and Luis has a bottle of Mönchshof Kellerbräu from EKU in Kulmbach.

Weisse, Dunkel and Kellerbräu

We all ordered way too much food and ate way to much. It was all excellent. But we ate so much we had to go back to the room for a post dinner nap. We'll see if we make it out again tonight.

I'll leave you with a picture of the Rierson brothers perusing the menu...

SF Saturday Noon -- Monk's Kettle

After leaving the Toronado we walked over to the Monk's Kettle on 16th.

We got there at 11:40 but the didn't open until noon, so we stood around for a while. It started rain so the let us in to sit, but we couldn't order beer until straight up 12 noon.

Round one was Iron Springs Altman's Sticke Alt, Uncommon Brewery Siamese Twins Double, Schmalz Brewery Human Blockhead Barleywine and the Stone/Alesmith/Mikkeller Collaboration Triple.

Altman's Sticke Ale, Human Blockhead, Collaboration, Siamese Twins

All were good but the Sticke alt wasn't really an alt -- way too much roasty flavor and not dry enough in the finish. But a tasty beer.

Mike passed on Round Two, so only three: Drakes Imperial Stout (on Nitro), Green Flash Grand Cru and another beer that I can't remember for the life of me Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball.

I'm normally not a fan of Nitro beers but I think it works with Imperial Stouts -- I prefer North Coast Old Rasputin that way and the Drake's was also excellent. The Green Flash Grand Cru was enjoyable but wasn't a beer that really stood out. The Hairy Eyeball was malty and strong but I liked the Drake's more.

I took a break while the others headed over to Anchor Brewing for the Homebrew Club of the Year party. We'll try the Toronado again later this afternoon.

Huge Line at the Toronado

And it doesn't open for another 45 minutes

Update: We bailed on the fest -- by the time we got in it was too crowded. So we walked over to the Monk's Kettle for lunch and beers.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Last Beer of the Day,,,

After leaving 21st Amendment, we decided to walk back to the hotel. We had to pass near City Beer so we stopped by for a night cap. Sadly, No -- they had just closed.

Arriving back at the hotel we noticed they had a bar. Being this is San Francisco, they had to have some decent beer for a nightcap. On draft they had Trumer Pils and Anderson Valley Boont Amber. At first I got excided about the Trumer, as I remember htis beer from trips to Salzburg. But then I remembered it is brewed under contract in Berkeley. Not that this detracts from the beer, but after drinking strong and hoppy beers all afternoon and evening it wouldn't to a Pils justice to drink it now. So I ordered the Boont Amber, a beer that is very familiar and is no danger of being judged harshly due to my condition (enebriated and suffering from pallet fatigue)t.

Because we are frugal beer geeks, we are staying at a Best Western. Our philosophy is we could stay at a fancy hotel and spend $100-200 more a night -- but do you know how much beer we could by for the difference? Anyway, because the Best Western is not know as a hangout for the trendy people, the hotel bar closes at 10:30pm. The nice bartender said she'd gladdly pour me a Boont Amber, but since we were staying in the hotel, would I mind a "go cup" -- not having heard that term since I was in NOLA in '85 I said sure.

A perfect end to a great day...

21st Amendment -- Desert

Our nice waitress asked if we wanted to see the dessert menu. I said we had one, pointing to the Strong Beer menu.

Round Two was Monk's Blood -- inspired by the dark strong Trappist beers, Double Trouble Belgian style IPA, Hop Crisis Triple IPA and Lower de Boom Barleywine. All were keepers.

Monk's Blood, Double Triple, Triple IPA, Lower de Boom Barleywine

In case you were tired of pictures of beer, one of our new best friends at the next table took our picture.

Beer Geeks Unlimited

After we finished our desert, our other new best friends at the table to the right of us bought us a duplicate of our last round of strong beers. Who said folks in SF weren't friendly.

Our other new best friends

It turns out that the best friends to the left of us and the best friends to the right of us lived within a block of each other and were frequent customers of 21st Amendment but didn't know each other. So they are now also best friends with one another and owe us a beer each time they socialize with one another.

And I have to update our beer tastings. We all liked the first taste of the Monk's Blood but the more we drank of it the less we liked it. As we finished the gift round from our best friend on the right (we're talking spatially here, not politically) - we realized there was a beer basically undrunk -- it was sad to leave this orphan on the table, but nobody liked enough to claim ownership (or parenthood). The consensus was the Lower de Boom was the best, followed by either the Triple IPA or Triple, depending on your mood for hops.

Could you provide a home for this orphan beer?

SF Friday Evening -- 21st Amendment

We lucked out and got a table right away at 21st Amendment.

21st Amendment -- Makes me want to study Constitutional Law

Round 1 is the Watermelon Wheat, Bitter American, Imperial Porter and Imperial Pilsner. All are very nice but I was most impressed with the Watermelon Wheat. I usually don't like fruity wheat beers but his one was quite nice.

Imperial Pilsner, Watermelon Wheat, Chocoate Porter, Bitter American

SF Friday Afternoon -- City Beer

After a uneventful drive north, we dropped our bags at the hotel and walked around the corner to City Beer. This is a beer store cum pub -- they have six beer on tap to taste while you shop and an impressive selection of bottles to go -- except the bottles don't have to go -- for a $1 corkage fee (to cover, I'm sure, the cost of washing glasses) you can drink and of the bottles as well.

City Beer

Luis is the proverbial kid in a candy store -- so many beers, so little time

On draft was Russian River Damnation Batch 23 and Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout.

Both were great!

We followed them up with some other beers: a Telegraph Reserve Wheat -- which while it billed itself as a "Berliner Weisse" actually tasted more like the delicious "Janer Weisse" I had from Jana a year or so back. A true, straight Berliner Weisse to me tastes like sour water -- there is really nothing there but sour -- not body, not hops. No wonder they add syrup. The Janer Weisse was nicely sour but had enough body to know you were drinking a beer and that's how I'd describe this beer. That may sound like faint praise, but its not -- that beer from Jena was one of the best I've had in a long time.

Luis had a Midnight Sessions Black Lager from Port Brewing (a/k/a Pizza Port) that seemed to be very good, but I really need to drink it before drinking a Strong Belgian and an Imperial Stoit (i.e. my taste buds where in "strong beer" mode).

As we were finishing up we realized there there another beer on tap -- Iron Springs "Casey Jones IPA" from Faifax, California. So we ordered one for "the table" and it turns out that was enough. It was very hoppy but it had a harsh finish -- the first sip was as good as it got.

While I was laboriously entering the original post with my iPhone, Luis grabbed my camera and took a picture of me "iPhone Blogging," I guess this is an example of second order blogging, (e.g. "Metablogging") but my head hurts to much thinking about this...

A blog of Fred blogging...

On The Road Again...

From left to right Tom, Mike, Luis and Fred and we leave Marina del Rey and head for San Francisco.

Picture taken by She Who Must Be Obeyed.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Its been quiet here but there should be some activity soon: Next weekend its off to San Francisco for the Toronado Barleywine Festival. It is "Beer Week" in SF so we'll be doing some other stuff as well.

The next "pure beer" trip is not until late March, when my Dad and I head off for a short trip to Prague.

One of the great things about traveling is it is an excuse to buy travel gear and gadgets. I though I'd fill in the downtime between beer trips (gotta work sometime!) with some of the hits and misses. Hey, that's another excuse -- "I don't really need this, but I could review it for the blog..."