Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Pub crawl: The slide show and the What’s On Tap column

By William Brand
Wednesday, December 19th, 2007 at 9:41 am in Uncategorized.

KQED pub crawl underway
OK, here’s the link to our pub crawl slide show.

And here’s today’s (Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2007) column:

WILLIAM BRAND: WHAT’S ON TAP

Pub crawl is a wild ride from ballpark to ocean

The great KQED San Francisco Pub Crawl went off flawlessly last Saturday. My hat’s off (if I had a hat) to everyone involved. Everything was donated, leaving me in awe at how much everyone did to make the crawl a success.

The crawl was a top-seller in KQED’s online auction. The winning bidders, three couples from the South Bay, who sold their software company a while back, are into adventures, especially adventures involving beer. We did have an adventure.

Charlie Lundquist, proprietor of Mr. Toad’s Tours a San Francisco tour company, provided the wheels, and what wheels they were: a zero-emissions, propane-powered reconstruction of a 1918 Packard touring car, wood panel sides, roll-down windows. It’s a show-stopper.

We started with lunch and beer at 21st Amendment, in the shadow of AT&T Park. They rolled out the red carpet, sampler sets of all their beers — including South Park Blonde — then beers of their choice, plus a tour of 21st Amendment’s brewery by co-founder and head brewer Shaun O’Sullivan. A great deal of excellent food and fine beer started the crawl out in fine form.

From there, we toodled (with Mr. Toad, you toodle) over to Toronado. This beer pub, founded two decades ago by David Keene, is a revered place in the beer world; it’s easily one of America’s top five beer bars.

They opened the taps, and our tour-winners discovered the raw but delicious power of Russian River’s Pliny the Elder: 8 percent alcohol, 100 IBU (Bud’s 13 IBU). One tour member discovered she loved Lindemans Kriek, the Belgian Lambic, fermented with black cherries.

Then, in a suitably merry mood, we rolled up Haight to the Alembic Bar. It’s a spare, ’50s-style lounge that specializes in distilled spirits and mixology. It’s owned by Dave McLean, proprietor of Magnolia Pub & Brewery down the street, so the Alembic also features a stunning selection of Belgian beer and Magnolia’s beers.

McLean and manager Dean James set up a pairing — Dave’s own Belgian-style Tripel against the classic Westmalle Tripel, made at the Belgian Trappist monastery. Both are strong: 8 percent alcohol. Each beer was served in its own glass, Belgian-style. Our group left totally impressed.

Next stop was Beach Chalet, at the western end of Golden Gate Park. We got there just in time for sunset. There was no green flash, but Beach Chalet had reserved us a table overlooking Ocean Beach; they even printed a special menu, spread out a large assortment of desserts and many a sampler set.

I figured we’d done a big-enough crawl; we’d been on the road across San Francisco for five hours. But I had a fallback: City Beer, the unique on-and-off-sale store was having a taste-off — He’brew’s Hanukkah beer against an assortment of Christmas beers.

The store/pub is tiny, and it was jammed. Proprietor Craig Wathen promised to get us in, but our still-merry crew realized they’d had enough crawl for one day.

If you want to duplicate the tour, I’ve posted links below..

By the way…Here’s the rest of the column.

In the spirit

Last-minute Christmas ideas … OK, it’s down to the wire now. You’ve bought presents, but what about you? Is there more than a seat at an empty bar? Here are three suggestions:

BEER OF THE WEEK: Samichlaus (***1/2), Schloss-Eggenberg, Vorchdorf, Austria. For years, Samichlaus, brewed on St. Nicholas Day, Dec. 6, bottled 10 months later and released on Dec. 6, was the strongest beer in the world: 14 percent ABV.

It’s since been passed by beers like Sam Adams Utopias. First brewed in 1979, the Swiss brewer was taken over by another brewery. But last year, the Austrian brewery got the recipe and made 2007 Samichlaus, which has just been released.

This is sweet like a cordial, with a brilliant, dark copper, powerful nose. A huge hit of warming alcohol balances the sweetness nicely.

BOOKS. There are two, both champs. Eyewitness Companions: Beer“(DK, $20). Editor-in-chief Michael Jackson, who died in August, enlisted the help of a crew of beer experts to tour the world and bring back an update on great beers. Written by Jackson, it’s a great armchair read, even if you never leave the Bay Area.

Also, The Best of American Beer & Food: Pairing & Cooking With Craft Beer, (Brewers Publications, $22.95), by Lucy Saunders. Saunders is a beer writer and a chef. She toured America collecting recipes. Wide-ranging, it covers pairing beer with food, particularly cheese. A must for a serious cook who likes beer.
Saludos, and may your holiday be merry.

Reach William Brand at whatsontap@sbcglobal.net or call 510-915-1180 and ask for his Retail Beer Store List or Good Pub List.

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