Posts Tagged ‘toronado’

SF vs. LA: a week in review

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

last week I managed to spend a good amount of time at popular beer spots in both SF and LA.

  • while up in SF for business, my first stop after work was (surprise!) giordano bros, where CB and I knocked down some coppa with egg and enjoyed some proving ground IPAs from magnolia.  afterwards, we headed to rogue, where curiosity got the better of me and I tried a pint of mead that they had on draft, which was clean and floral (and must have been on  the lighter side since I polished off the entire pint and could still stand up afterwards).
  • then it was back to CB’s where the ball really got rolling.  more specifically, CB popped a 750 of Oude Gueuze Tilquin à L’Ancienne, a bottle which I had sought unsuccessfully for quite some time.  the newest geuze blender to pop up in belgium in quite some time, tilquin piqued my curiosity, and their first release didn’t disappoint.  the aroma right after the pour was full of fresh citrus fruit, but evolved into a complex, earthy funk reminiscent of some of the finer geuzes I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying.  to top it off, CB served up some fresh wild-starter sourdough he’s been perfecting.  it was a great pairing, and made for a killer start to my trip.  now I just have to find some more tilquin bottles!
  • the next day CB, UD, JC, and I pulled the classic memphis minnie’s/toronado pairing, and finished the night up with a bottle of oud beersel’s Oude Kriek Vieille, which was tasty, but a little tamer than I had hoped.  the night ended back at CB’s with a bottle of cascade’s vlad the imp aler, which was more drinkable than I remembered, and had a great balance of smooth sourness and sweet vanilla malt/oak.  thanks again for the unbelievable hospitality CB!
  • a few days later I was in the LA valley, suited up for a good buddy’s wedding.  there was an interim between the wedding and reception, so AP and I took advantage of the situation and let the wedding crew over to tony’s darts away, a somewhat inconveniently-located spot I had been meaning to visit for a while.
  • we got there at a good time (around 4 – evidently, the place gets crowded later at night), and ordered up some specialty sausages, sweet potato fries, and some great beers, including bear republic’s mach 10 and lagunitas’ lucky 13.  specializing in CA IPAs, tony’s had great service and food, and everyone in our party left satisfied.  it’s a shame this place is in burbank…
  • after experiencing a taste of what both the north and south have to offer in CA, it’s hard to pick a favorite.  I’m just glad I have access to both!





three nights in SF

Friday, October 29th, 2010

“what are your favorite SF beer spots?” a tough question to answer.  however, a week or two ago, I flew up to SF for business.  although the days were all work, the nights were a chance to stop by some of my favorite brew sources in the city.  given a limited time (3 nights) and a central location (the embarcadero), these were the places that made the cut.

  • night 1: giordano bros., la trappe, and rogue. going to giordano bros. for a coppa with egg with AF and CB was a no-brainer, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they now have beer on draft (I grabbed a pour of mangolia’s kalifornia kolsch).
  • afterwards, it was a straight shot to la trappe, where a bottle of drie fonteinen’s oude geuze was popped between AF, CB, and JC.  although la trappe has fallen slightly out of favor with me these days due to their high prices, cramped atmosphere, and spotty beer availability, you would be hard pressed to find many of their offerings elsewhere in the city.
  • we left la trappe for an outside table at rogue, where a pour of lagunitas little sumpin’ wild ended the night perfectly.  although I honestly can’t remember the last time I ordered a rogue beer there…
  • night 2: memphis minnie’s, toronado. as mentioned before, memphis minnie’s is my go-to spot now before toronado.  a pitcher of anchor steam complemented the ‘pulled’ chicken and greens nicely before heading over to toronado.
  • after experiencing the worst bar service I have ever known (even for toronado), I grabbed a cornucopia of brews, from moonlight’s homegrown to some russian river favorites.
  • night 3: healthy spirits and some CB homebrew. with checked bags being included on southwest, I knew I had to take some rarities home with me, so off to I went with CB to see dave over at healthy spirits.  after a half hour of pacing the store, I grabbed some goodies from hanssens, lagunitas, russian river, and drie fonteinen.
  • I then rolled over to CB’s, where we sampled over half a dozen of his homebrews, including a funked saison that was definitely top notch.  we spent a few hours pulling samples from carboys with thick pellicles and finished the night with a 750 of cascade’s the vine, which is a beer that was truly fantastic.  I left satisfied and inspired to be more adventurous with my own brewing .  thanks again CB!

beer [pop] culture

Friday, March 5th, 2010

you know beer culture is nearing its peak of trendiness when:

  • there is a line snaking out of city beer store longer than one at a nightclub.
  • at 6:30pm.
  • on a thursday.
  • I mean, sure, it was a special dogfish head night (pouring sah’tea, theobroma, and burton baton), but shit, when I saw that line I started thinking that maybe sam himself was in there on the bar spraying people down with 120-minute or something.
  • I was stoked for craig and beth (they always have great beers and prices), but toronado seemed a little more my speed that night.
  • after the usual half hour test of my patience over at rosamunde, I screamed out “never again!” and ran over to memphis minnie’s, where they had me fixed up in a heartbeat.
  • CB, TB, and DW met up, and we conspired regarding rosamunde’s demise over moonlight’s misspent youth, a pale with great aroma, and some ’09 temptation.

rodenbach grand cru

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

a while back, I was perusing the bevmo shelves (surprise!) when I came across a few offerings from rodenbach that warranted closer inspection.

  • I usually pass over brews labeled as a “grand cru” because the designation is vague and seems to be all-encompassing.  when I grab a bottle I usually end up with a strong, spicy tripel-esque beer that I am usually not fond of.
  • however, after scanning the label of rodenbach’s grand cru, my eyes lit up – this beer was a flanders red, and was 1/3 “new” and 2/3 “old,” the “old” being matured for a couple years in oak vats.
  • since the majority of the beer was old, I figured it would be more dry and tart and less sweet than its counterparts, such as the duchesse, which I personally find a bit too sweet (relatively speaking).
  • when I finally got around to popping this guy, I was happy to find that the above was true.  the beer had a slight vinegar note, and was pleasingly sour, with a little sweetness to back it up.  it was still a little too sweet for my tastes – I could go for an 85/15 blend.
  • the current blend gave the beer a great drinkability, however, and my glass was empty way too fast.  I definitely plan on grabbing future bottles, since at $11 or $12 a pop it sure beats getting a champagne glass pour for $5-6 at toronado.
  • turns out the MJ is a fan of this beer too.

port brewing high tide fresh hop IPA

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

high tide in the glass

last week AP and I swung by the local bevmo while we were down in socal.  one of the better finds there was port brewing’s high tide fresh hop IPA.

  • high tide wasn’t as subtle as other fresh hop beers I have tried recently-  it had a strong citrusy hop aroma and strong resiny bitterness (amarillo pellet hops are used as an early addition, and fresh centennial and chinook are used as later additions and for dry-hopping).
  • that isn’t to say that this beer wasn’t great – it definitely had a lot more hop flavor than what I was used to with fresh hop beers (including my own fresh hop beer).
  • overall, I would say this beer is the hop-head’s answer to fresh hop beers, and would definitely stand out next to other fresh hop offerings (as demonstrated over at toronado’s wet hop night a while back).

port high tide harvest fresh hop IPA

22 oz of hoppy goodness

wet hop harvest beer night at toronado

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

the perfect combination - toronado and rosamunde

yesterday I remembered that it was wet hop night at toronado, so AP and I met up with CB, TB, and DW over there to enjoy some great brews.

  • toronado really needs no introduction – it is an SF classic, a long-standing beer bar that has supported the craft beer scene for decades.
  • the place was definitely crowded, but not at capacity (unlike their signature event, the annual barleywine festival).  the lone bartender was grinding through over half a dozen patrons at the bar, but it didn’t take long before I had a pint in my hands.
  • we also managed to score a table not too soon thereafter, and when I saw AP enter the room with an armful of heaping plastic trays from rosamunde, I knew the planets were in alignment.
  • between our group, we managed to try a significant number of the available wet hop varieties.  CB and DW had started with moonlight’s greenbud, and from there we moved on to port’s high tide harvest, speakeasy’s wet hop big daddy IPA, dempsey’s 707 harvest, and sierra nevada’s wet hop harvest.
  • all of them were great – port’s offering was the crowd favorite, but I personally preferred the big daddy, it had a little more malt backbone, but the wet hop aroma and mild bitterness held up to it.
  • the kicker? taking a cue from magnolia’s wet hop event, toronado had all wet hop pints at $3.  I felt like I had just popped out of a time machine.
  • I love toronado, especially during events like this, but for a casual visit I recommend going during the early afternoon on a weekend to avoid the crowds.  I also recommend giving memphis minnie’s a shot if you’re not feeling sausages for take out.

the wet hop tap list at toronado

enjoying some brews and sausages

crowded toronado front

a table at toronado - priceless

view from the back room

columbus cafe

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

at the window at columbus

I’ll never turn down a request for happy hour at columbus cafe in north beach.

  • they have 26 beers on tap, mostly usual suspects, but they have a great west coast IPA selection.
  • last friday I met up here with AP, AP, and TM.  I started off with a lagunitas IPA, then finished off with a bear republic racer 5 IPA – 2 of my favorite “session IPAs.”
  • all seats were taken when I got there about 6:30, but it wasn’t crowded.  however, I have been here after 9 or 10pm and the place was shoulder-to-shoulder, so proceed with caution.
  • columbus cafe’s happy hour runs from 4-8 (although I thought it stopped at 7 last friday – better double-check).
  • the happy hour is 2-for-1 beers, which they give you a token to redeem.  this is a great idea since you don’t have to use the token that day, and can redeem it another time.
  • another great element here is golden boy pizza down the street, which turns out awesome slices.  columbus and golden boy are the north beach equivalent of rosamunde and toronado – they were meant to be.
  • also, FYI, rogue, la trappe, and church key are also within walking distance of this place.

taps at columbus cafe

happy hour token and friends at columbus

mobile tap/bottle list updates

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009


I doubt I’m the only guy who walks into a beer bar in the city and wishes he had a tap/bottle list available on his cell phone.  I always manage to block traffic or invade someone’s personal space as I scan the taps/chalkboard/etc. for the right brew. Sometimes I panic and go for a safe bet, then kick myself when I see something interesting that I overlooked.

  • city beer store has the occasional email update, and dave over at healthy spirits updates his blog on a regular basis, but I think we still have a way to go in this area.
  • the thing is, the idea of a mobile tap broadcast isn’t new. check out taplister, a user-updated bar database that is accessible via SMS and twitter and is optimized for mobile access.  they even have a live video feed of a bar’s chalkboard.  only thing is, it’s available only in Portland at the moment, and I don’t think it gets updated that often (Higgins has zero beers on tap? hmmm…).  a basic rundown can be found here.
  • on top of that, there’s this affiliated program called beer signal that enables you to tell your friends where you are imbibing real-time so they can meet up.  this could be a great way to organize a city beer store session after work or to promote a happy hour.
  • I figure some beer lover in SF could easily throw together a mobile web app (and maybe an accompanying iphone app) for the city in the same vein as taplister, but with even more features.  individuals could update and view existing tap lists using their phones, and the app could even link existing taps to style descriptions or even beeradvocate ratings to allow for more informed beer selections.
  • i had also read somewhere that one or two individual bars in portland have released proprietary mobile programs where they update their beer selection.  I would definitley prefer a more universal application, but I wonder how long it will take before toronado, magnolia, or 21st amendment jump on board and start offering similar services…
  • for other somewhat interesting phone beer apps, check out here and here.