Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sidebar - Oakland

There are still SF Beer Week events to write about.  I know.  I am sure all my zero readers are dying to know what the Lumberjack and I have been up to.  You will have to wait!  Because I'm lazy.

While you wait, I will tell you about a few other beers that I had with my friend who I have to call "Spitfire" until she comes up with a better pseudonym for herself.  Apparently when I'm tipsy, "spitfire" is the best I can come up with.  So, Spitfire she is.

We went to the grand opening of Heart and Daggers Saloon (yes, I promise I hate the name just as much as, if not more than, you).  It's a fun little bar, but the beer list made me want to cry (the big seller was the extra-large cans of PBR).  So after awhile we headed down to Sidebar, a restaurant near my house that I had a hunch might serve some good beers.

Behold!  A very small photo of their beer list.  Ahem.

First up, Spitfire chose La Fin du Monde (Abbey Triple, 9% ABV).  I had tried it once before, and still like it a lot.  Kind of fruity, with a solid base.  Smells like bananas.  Very tasty!

I had the Sierra Nevada Porter (Porter, 5.6% ABV), which was pretty decent.  In the greater Sierra Nevada context, I give it an A, but compared with my favourite porters and stouts like Speedway, more of a B+.  It was a little too watery, although it had a great light flavour of raisins and coffee.  For a relatively cheap beer, it was great.

I had been to Sidebar once before for dinner, and liked it a lot - it has a very cozy and hip feeling - dark wood, sparse decorations, friendly (and kinda hot) staff.  This time we sat at the bar and the bartender was very kind to give us his beer suggestions.  My favourite bartender is the kind who has an opinion and wants to share it with you...but then follows up afterward to see if he was right.  SOMETIMES THEY'RE NOT.  This time he was.

So, at his suggestion, Spitfire then had Saison du Pont (Saison, 6.5% ABV), which I had also had before, and was not a fan of - it just tastes a little off to me.  The hops are kind of sour, and not in the good way.  But I think she liked it.  I had Hopf Dunkle Weisse (Dunkelweizen, 5% ABV), which the ratebeer people seem to hate.  I thought it was pretty good.  It tasted kind of fruity, slightly of prunes and dried cherries with a syrupy aftertaste.  It also faintly tasted of sour milk, although that wasn't bad (hard to explain, but true).  It was a little too wheaty for me after awhile - I think if I only had a little of it I would like it, but 500ml was too much.  It's a good beer to share with someone else.  Speaking of which...

The best part of the evening was making a new drinking friend!  Oh Spitfire, look how happy she is with her beer and notes.  It's so much more fun to taste beer and compare notes than to...not.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Port is open and the Abbey has been found....

We went back to the City Beer Store a few days later for the Lost Abbey/Port Brewing event.  All the beers on tap were special for the event, and a lot of them were interrelated or mixed together which seemed pretty creative to me (although I guess that's not terribly uncommon).
First up I had Lost Abbey Double Cherry Red Poppy (Sour Ale, 5.5% ABV).  It's a Flanders Style Sour Ale, and I thought it was totally delicious.  It was super sour when I first sipped it, but then I waited a second, and swallowed again and it was warmer and more sweet.  I like beers that have a slightly different aftertaste - I think some would call that "complex"?  It was foggy and dark red, and looked kind of like pomegranate juice.  It doesn't look very carbonated, but felt a little bubbly.  All in all, this was a really good sour beer.

I decided to stay in the sour realm and try Lost Abbey Cuvee de Tomme (Belgian Strong Ale, 11.5% ABV) next.  While the Lumberjack thought this was delicious - he said it was like the Double Cherry Red Poppy Emeril BAM style - and it rates a 100 on ratebeer, I have to say...not impressed.  There was no aroma and it tasted kind of bland, which was especially disappointing after enjoying the Double Cherry so much.  I gave the Lumberjack the rest of mine.

I tried a few other beers that I'm too lazy to type up, and then decided to taste Lagunitas Brown Shugga (Barleywine, 9.8% ABV), since the Lumberjack has been telling me for months that I'm going to love it. usual, he was right.  It had pretty lacing on the glass and tasted beautiful.  It had a light wheat flavor that I enjoyed - it's another beer that will be great on a hot sunny day.  Very sweet.  Good call, LJ.
Once we were done with the beer, we ate BBQ on Folsom.  Yeah, it was good.  Clearly my note-taking started suffering at this point.

AleSmith Session: Sip and Savor - Feb.6, City Beer Store

Our first official (I think?) Beer Week event was the AleSmith party at the City Beer Store.  There was a special tasting session at a restaurant across the street, so there was enough room to move about on our own (anyone who's ever been to the City Beer Store knows this can be a problem at the store!).

I specifically wanted to attend this event because of the Barrel Aged Speedway Stout.  I love Speedway Stout, and I love barrel-aged beer, can imagine how excited I was.

This beer is just SO GOOD.

I wish I had a broader vocabulary when it comes to describing beer, because it's just so delicious and want to encourage everyone else to drink it.  You should try it.  It's syrupy, tastes strongly of coffee, and since it's barrel aged this version has a slight liquor-esque flavor to it.  It's basically just awesome.

Then we had AleSmith Decadence (Weizen Bock, 9% ABV).  Apparently this beer is a big deal, and people were super excited to try it?  Eh, I wasn't all that impressed.  If I had tasted it without all the "OMG I WANT DECADENCE NOW" hubbub, I might have liked it more.  It smelled really fruity, and strongly of brettanomyces which is one of my favorite beer scents.  It tasted like  bananas, and you can also taste the wheat which I usually don't like, but in this beer it was pretty good.  I guess I did like it.  I just didn't understand why everyone was so head-over-heels for it.  It has a nice bottle too.

Next up was AleSmith Lil Devil (Belgian Ale, 6% ABV).  I tried this on suggestion from the woman who runs City Beer Store.  She was explaining how the Lil Devil isn't available in bottles, and how it "feeds" the Horny Devil which is a big seller.  And she kept saying "it feeds the Horny Devil and brings a fuller, deeper flavor" and other things which were crying out for a "that's what she said" response, but I have learned that the rest of the world does not enjoy that comment as much as the Lumberjack and I do, so I kept that to myself.

The beer was really pretty, as you can see in the picture.  A sweet light beer, sort of lemony - apparently it has orange peels in it.  I approve!  It's a good beer for when it's sunny outside.  I tend to gravitate towards dark beers, which is good during the current time of year, but it's nice to branch out and find some lighter beers that I can drink when summer comes around.

Oh and then I tried AleSmith Horny Devil (Belgian Strong Ale, 11% ABV) to experience "the fuller taste explosion" that I was promised.  I'll just leave you with my direct words: "Oh.  Oh, no no no.  That tastes like vomit."

At that point I went back to my old standby and got a sample of regular Speedway Stout to have with dinner.  This hamburger was probably the most amazing thing I ate all weekend.  Smoked gouda cheese!  Amazing!  And stouts and burgers go so well together.  Deeeeelicious.

Then we headed across the street to get some bottled beers at City Beer Store.  The Lumberjack found his new favorite beer: Fifty Fifty Imperial Eclipse Stout (Imperial Stout, 9.5% ABV).  He had the green wax top which was brewed in Heaven Hill barrels.  His review was short, but overwhelmingly positive.  I also thought it was pretty good, but tasted a little too strongly of bourbon for me.

I tried Nectar Ales Black Xantus (Imperial Stout, 11% ABV) which was aged in bourbon barrels.  This beer had been recommended to me by a friend, and she did not steer me wrong!  My entire recorded review was "it's fucking awesome."  I found it a little sweeter, and less bitter than Speedway Stout.  The bourbon flavor is there, but not too strong.

So what did I learn today?  I really love bourbon barrel-aged beer, and that the movie Legion is a horrible, horrible film that no amount of beer can make better.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The only thing worse than being at work at 5pm on Friday when your boyfriend is off at an SF Beer Week event is when he texts you to look up beers on your computer to give him advice re: which to drink next.

Oh, Lumberjack.  You're lucky you're so pretty.

(Apparently this beer is awesome.  Good to know.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rosamunde (Mission @ 24th in SF)

Good beer, delicious sausages, nice bartenders, big windows with fresh air. What's not to love? Details coming soon - first I'm off to Fort Mason with the Lumberjack for singing monks from Tibet. I think.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


A beer CSA?!  Local, organic beer?  Very, very exciting.  Looks like it's still in the works, and I'm not sure exactly how the whole thing will pan out - if I have to drive bottles back to a farm up north somewhere, I don't think I will participate.  But for all I know they'll deliver or work something out.  So!  Until I hear otherwise, I am super excited.

Favourite Beers

I will update soon about last night, but first, I must offer a toast to my 2 favourite beers, as seen here at the City Beer Store.

Mikkeller's Beer Geek Breakfast (Stout, 7.5% ABV)AleSmith's Speedway Stout (Imperial Stout, 12% ABV)!  Both are delicious, with a light caramel flavour and heavy on the coffee.  They have a great syrupy consistency that I really like - only lightly carbonated, so they're much thicker than the stereotypical beer.  ie: YUM.  I've never tried them back-to-back so I'm not too good at comparing them - also, I just don't have that refined of a palate.  But, holy shit.  Those beers are so good.  The end.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'm an Oakland girl, but the city sure is pretty.

Tonight: Barrel-Aged Tuesday at Triple Rock in Berkeley - part of SF Beer Week!

Barrel Aged Festival - The Bistro, Hayward - November, 2009


I will search out my notes sometime soon and will update with my top choices.  The one I remember the best was Deschutes The Abyss (Imperial Stout, 11% ABV).  The Lumberjack had been talking this beer up to me for weeks, telling me how much I was going to love it.  Oh, Lumberjack - you are so rarely wrong.  This beer was delicious.  Almost black (the name is quite fitting), and it smells really rich.  It's sweet, and intense, and is pretty much everything I love about beer.

The other beers were good, including one super-sour extravaganza.  I liked it so much I told a group of nearby guys to try it with their last tasting ticket...apparently they later looked VERY dissatisfied.  oops.  Not for everyone.

Eat Real Festival - Jack London Square, Oakland

Eat Real Festival

I think this might have been before GABF.  I can't remember much about it except it was really hot outside, and it was way too crowded.  All the beers were coming from one trailer, with lines extending in different directions.  It was hard to see what was available, and since I was still pretty new, I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to try.  At the last minute they changed the ticketing - it had originally been 8 4-oz tastings, but when we got there we learned it was changed to 4 8-oz tastings.  I wasn't too excited about that - my favourite part of festivals is the chance to taste a bunch of stuff and see what I like - only getting 4 tickets but committing to 8oz of a beer that might not turn out wasn't the best.  Also, the lines were way too long.

Basically, I stuck with what I know - I tried all the stouts and thought they were good, of course.  I did experiment with Barleywine for the first time.  While the Lumberjack thought its sweetness would be a good match for me, I found it a little too alcohol-esque, and wasn't a fan.

Great American Beer Festival - Denver, September 2009

My first beer festival! Totally started my beer existence with a bang. Huge conference center, more beer than I could ever handle. To give us a sense of order, the night before the event we went through the list of breweries and marked the ones we were especially excited to visit. I say "we" to make it sound like I had any sort of opinion on this. In reality, I knew nothing about which breweries developed which beers (all I knew at that point was "dark beer = good!"), so the Lumberjack got to lead the way.

(I, however, am the virgo in this duo, so I happily marked up the map in the GABF brochure. I created a very thoughtful and linear excursion through the whole event so that we could hit up all the places we wanted, and skip, say, the Budweiser tent. ew.)

Prior to GABF, my favourite beer was Mikkeller's Beer Geek Breakfast (Stout, 7.5% ABV), with Mikkeller's Santa's Little Helper 2008 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 11.00% ABV) a close second. However, at GABF I met my new boyfriend (sorry, Lumberjack), named Great Divide's Yeti (Imperial Stout, 9.5% ABV). Holy CRAP (I believe those were my exact words). I drank it, gave the Lumberjack my "good god that's a good beer" eyes, then went back for seconds. I was a bit tipsy at this point, so I believe I gushed to the pourer that this was my new favourite beer, and he smiled and gave me a very genuine "thanks!"

Other beers I can remember from GABF:

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red (Fruit Beer, 5.1% ABV): an awesome sour/cherry beer. SO AMAZING. The Lumberjack got my "hello what is THIS?!" face, at which point he reminded me that it's not available anywhere near the Bay Area. I can't decide if I would rather have never known it existed, so I wouldn't long for it so, or if it was better to have loved and lost, etc etc etc. End result, though - holy shit that beer is good.

Some horribly disgusting beer that was brewed with peppercorn. PEPPERCORN. It was revolting. The Lumberjack happily drank my sample then went back for more. We don't always like the same beer.
the players:
dk: me. starting to learn about beer. likes: stouts. dislikes: ipas.
lumberjack: the boyfriend. knows a lot about beer. likes: beer.

events we have attended that require review:
Great American Beer Festival
Eat Real: Beer Event
Bistro Barrel-Aged Festival
variety of SF Beer Week events