2016 Beer Year in Review

 

 

 

2016 was an incredible beer year.  The most significant change was likely a significant increase in my beer trading, which has opened my world up to countless new and incredible brews.

The Year of Haze

The clear trend of 2016 was the complete dominance of New England-style IPAs.  Mostly, New England is no longer the only place to find these so-called “juice bombs.”

Monkish Brewing (http://www.monkishbrewing.com/) came out of the gates swinging and firmly established itself as the West Coast’s challenger to Treehouse and the rest of the New England haze brewers.  Monkish’s releases became somewhat of a spectacle, with people lining up at 2 AM or earlier for the 10 AM IPA can releases.  Crazy.  Midway through the year Monkish got their own canning line and started randomly announcing releases, quelling the midnight lines but not necessarily making the cans any easier to get.

Fortunately, I have a few different trade partners in the LA Area that have been faithfully sending me Monkish’s killer IPAs.  I cannot say I have gotten every one, but i have been fortunate to get many of their best beers.  In no particular order, my favorite Monkish brews of 2016 were:  Foggier Window, My First Canning Line DIPA, JFK to LAX, Really Real and Atomically.  That said, I can honestly say each Monkish beer I had was top notch.

That said, Monkish is not the only California brewery embracing and succeeding in the Haze game.  My two favorite Bay Area breweries, Cellarmaker (http://www.cellarmakerbrewing.com/) and Fieldwork (http://fieldworkbrewing.com/) are no strangers to the haze.  That said, both have their own unique take on the style.  One thing I love about both of these breweries is that they have their own unique style that is present in almost every one of their IPAs.  It is difficult to describe, but even if I have never had a particular beer from either brewery, I am confident I could determine if it was one of theirs.

Cellarmaker has made a few beers that I consider hybrid East/West Coast brews.  I have written about Ger off my Lawn! before, but every time I think about my favorite beers of the year it comes to mind.  Super flavorful, juicy hazy IPA, but most importantly, a huge hop kick.  It is basically my perfect beer.

Other standouts from Cellarmaker this year include Wicked Juicy and Double Dobis.  I look forward to more killer beers from Cellarmaker in 2017.

My favorite Fieldwork hazy IPAs from this year were King Citra, Broken Clouds, Pulp and St. Monroe.  King Citra absolutely nailed the style, whereas Broken Clouds was more of the hybrid I love.

Two other Northern California breweries that are killing the haze game are Alavarado Street (http://www.alvaradostreetbrewery.com/) and Moonraker(http://www.moonrakerbrewing.com/).  Both have been putting out killer beers, especially in the second half of the year.  Alvarado’s Contains No Juice, Opaque Minds and Vengeful Barbarian were all excellent.

Moonraker is relatively new on the scene but killing it.  They recently started canning their beers and if you can get your hands on them, you should.  I recently visited the brewery and it was also very cool.  My favorite juice bombs they put out this year were the somewhat now-famous Yojo and Dojo, but my personal favorite was the most recent release, The Holy Hermit. I cannot wait to see what they do in 2017.

Overall, I initially did have some hesitancy about the hazy IPA rage.  However, I am now fully on-board.  I can never say no to any of the beers above, or any of the “original” NE IPAs (ie Treehouse, Tired Hands and Trillium).  I am also enjoying many of the other options popping up from all over the country.  The haze game is not going away, and I am OK with that.

Was 2016 the Last Year of West Coast IPA

Nah.  NE style IPAs are still the rage, but there are plenty of fantastic West Coast IPAs still out there and people who love them, like me.  Russian River (ie Pliny and Blind Pig), Kern River, Noble, Highland Park, Beachwood and the local boys (Fieldwork and Cellarmaker) are still cranking out awesome West Coast IPAs.  Some of my favorite West Coasters this year were Kern River’s Citra, Noble’s Galaxy Showers and Highland Park’s Hello LA.

I am hoping that 2017 brings a revitalized approach to West Coast IPAs and maybe some innovations.  With all the great breweries we have I am hopeful it can be done.

Other Highlights from 2016

2016 was not just about drinking great beers, it was also about finding them.  As we traveled the world this year, the influence of craft beer on the rest of the world is palpable.  Years ago, I would not have imagined that a vacation can be centered around craft beer.  Now, however, that is a reality.

In 2016, we were fortunate enough to spend a couple weeks in Italy, a week in Cancun, a week in Sedona/Phoenix, and countless weekend trips, including to Tahoe, the North State and coast.  One thing was consistent on all of those trips, and that was finding local beer.

I was shocked at the growing craft beer scene in Italy (see my posts on that from earlier this year).  The resort we stayed at in Cancun HAD A BREWERY at it!  Arizona was full of great craft beer and breweries.

Conclusion

It is difficult to imagine having a better beer year than 2016, but I will try.  2017 is looking to be a very exciting year for my wife and I, but we will keep hunting down the best beers we can and ways to enjoy them with the beagador Sara.

Happy New Beer!

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Dog Friendly Brewery Series – Santa Cruz Area

I love good beer. I also love enjoying good beer with my wife and dog. I therefore really love doing both together. Unfortunately, that is not always possible (unless done at home). Hence, the following series.

I cannot profess to know every single dog friendly brewery in the state, but I do believe I have a pretty good grip of the best ones in a few different areas, namely SF, the Bay Area and north, and the Central Coast. This series will pass along my knowledge on this ever so important topic.

Some of the prior articles in these series are here:

Dog Friendly Brewery Series – San Francisco Part 2

Dog Friendly Brewery Series – North SF Bay Area

Dog Friendly Brewery Series – San Francisco

This blog looks at some dog friendly breweries in the Santa Cruz area.

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales (SARA)

SARA is making quite a name for itself and quickly become a beer nerd destination.  I was stoked to get down there last weekend, and even more stoked that i could bring the pooch.

SARA is in a somewhat industrial area in Capitola, close to the freeway and a few minutes from the beach.  SARA is definitely focused on making unique small batch brews.  Some of their more popular beers are Belgian style or farmhouse and saisons.  They do, however, typically have at least one IPA or a good pale ale.

The brewery is unsurprisingly a bit small, and apparently can get quite crowded.  However, we arrived right at noon when they were open so there seemed to be plenty of space available.

The staff/owners are very pro-dog and our Sara was welcomed with open arms.  We really enjoyed the beers, and purchase bottles of the special release they had that weekend (Quality of Life).  There is no food, but apparently they have BBQ out front many days or you can bring your own food.

Overall, a very cool place.  We went for the beer, but would go back just for the atmosphere.  Look forward to many future trips, the brews alone are a reason for us to make the 1.5 hour drive.

http://rusticales.com/

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is organic brewery in the new(ish) and very cool Swift Street Courtyard.  The area has been transformed into a mostly winery haven, but as any reasonable human would do, we went to the one brewery.

I have been here a few years ago, but it was just as I remembered.  Decent beer, but fun atmosphere and very dog friendly.  Plenty of outdoor seats overlooking the courtyard.  You can order food from the cafe next door, and they have a few wine options as well.

I got the Giant DIPA, which looked juicy and a bit hazy.  It was a beautiful beer, although the taste did not match the looks.  No complaints though, I would certainly go back.

http://www.scmbrew.com/

New Bohemia Brewing Co. (NuBo) and Santa Cruz Ale Works

We have not been to either, but the rumor is they are both dog friendly.  We will make another visit and provide an update once we have visited….

http://www.nubobrew.com/

http://www.santacruzaleworks.com/

There are obviously plenty of beach options, but apparently the only one that is technically off-leash is Its Beach, right on West Cliff drive north of the lighthouse.  Small beach, decent waves coming in, but Sara was in heaven.

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We will certainly make another trip down to try out some more of the breweries in town, as the beer scene certainly is growing in the area.

Dog Friendly Brewery Series – Tahoe Part 2

I love good beer. I also love enjoying good beer with my wife and dog. I therefore really love doing both together. Unfortunately, that is not always possible (unless done at home). Hence, the following series.

I cannot profess to know every single dog friendly brewery in the state, but I do believe I have a pretty good grip of the best ones in a few different areas, namely SF, the Bay Area and north, and the Central Coast. This series will pass along my knowledge on this ever so important topic.

Some of the prior articles in these series are here:

Dog Friendly Brewery Series – San Francisco Part 2

Dog Friendly Brewery Series – North SF Bay Area

Dog Friendly Brewery Series – San Francisco

This post is a continuation of a prior post, linked here: Dog Friendly Brewery Series – Tahoe and Auburn

The first blog dealt with North Lake Tahoe.  This post touches on the breweries in the South Lake Tahoe area.

Stateline Brewery

Stateline Brewery, is, as expected, right near Stateline.  Technically it is in California in Heavenly Village.  The brewery itself is basically in a huge basement.  It is a large space that can get pretty busy for dinner.  However, the best part of the brewery is probably the outside seating right on Highway 50.

The outdoor sitting was plentiful when we were there (Memorial Day Weekend at about 4 in the afternoon).  There were good happy hour deals, even on Saturday, for drink and apps.  Unfortunately, there is no lake view, but there is solid people watching.

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I had an Acclimator IPA, which was better than I remembered their beers being.  They also had a variety of beers from other breweries, which was nice to have as they only had a few of their own beers on tap when we were there.

The service when we sat outside was solid (when we went for dinner it was pretty slammed and the service was not as great).

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http://www.statelinebrewery.com/

Brewery at Lake Tahoe

The Brewery at Lake Tahoe is not as conveniently located as Stateline Brewery if you are staying in the more touristy area.  The Brewery is a little over a mile away from Stateline on Lake Tahoe Blvd on the California side.

The Brewery has a decent sized dog friendly area, albeit with no real views and not as great of people watching as you get at Stateline.

Beers are good, nothing too exciting but drinkable.

I have not eaten here yet, but plan to do so next trip up and will give an update.

http://www.brewerylaketahoe.com/

MacDuff’s Pub

Although clearly not a brewery, MacDuffs has one of the better beer selections in Tahoe and a large, comfortable dog friendly patio with a peak of a lake view.  The food is also better than average pub food, with great (and huge) burgers and fish and chips.

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It is a must hit when in Tahoe, and the owner, as evidenced by their glasses, is a dog lover (that is actually his dog on the glass).

http://macduffspub.com/

Where to Drink SF – Cellarmaker

Cellarmaker is making some of the best beer around right now, and all it takes is a visit to see how many people are there at any time to realize this.

The Cellarmaker space is an exposed brick, semi-industrial space in SOMA.  It comes across of more of a bar than a brewery, partly because it is always pretty packed and partly because they tend to have the music going pretty strong.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, and if a bar-feel is more your thing, you will love Cellarmaker.

They are constantly changing their beers, and with a few exceptions, there are almost always predominately new beers on tap.  According to their website, they say there will be at least 3-5 hop forward beers on tap at any time.  This has been true whenever I have gone.

Their Pale Ales tend to come off as more of IPAs, which works great for me.  I have had a few good stouts as well.

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The Tiny Dankster and the Quad Dobis (a beer week special beer) were some of the better beers I have had in the last year. That said, I have liked everyone of their beers I have had.

As of a couple months ago, they have been selling bomber bottles the first week of the month, however they sell out quick (ie one day), so if you want one, get on it.  Growler purchases are always an option.

Only bad thing I can say about this place is no dogs 😦

It will be very interesting to see if they try and grow or stay the size they are.  The quality is supreme right now, so one has to wonder what may happen if they try and expand…

http://www.cellarmakerbrewing.com/

Dog Friendly Brewery Series – Tahoe and Auburn

I love good beer. I also love enjoying good beer with my wife and dog. I therefore really love doing both together. Unfortunately, that is not always possible (unless done at home). Hence, the following series.

I cannot profess to know every single dog friendly brewery in the state, but I do believe I have a pretty good grip of the best ones in a few different areas, namely SF, the Bay Area and north, and the Central Coast. This series will pass along my knowledge on this ever so important topic.

The fourth in this series will focus on dog-friendly breweries in the Tahoe area and Auburn (nothing in South Lake, as both breweries I have been to there do not allow dogs).

See other articles in this series here:

https://californiaipas.com/2015/07/28/dog-friendly-brewery-series-north-sf-bay-area/

https://californiaipas.com/2015/04/05/dog-friendly-brewery-series-sf-bay-area-east-bay-and-peninsula/

https://californiaipas.com/2015/03/09/dog-friendly-breweries-series-san-francisco/

Knee Deep Brewing

Knee Deep is one of my current, favorite breweries.  To top off the great beer, they are dog friendly.

Knee Deep is in Auburn, although it is not necessarily a quick stop off the freeway of you are driving up to Tahoe.  Nonetheless, it is worth the stop.

The brewery is right by the Auburn airport in an industrial area.  There is a large indoor area and a pretty decent sized outdoor area, which seems to often have food trucks.  The pups are allowed inside or out.

The space is laid back with cornhole, plenty of space, and most importantly, awesome beers.  Knee Deep is doing some of the best double and triple IPAs around right now.  The list when we went was full of awesome beers.

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Naturally, I had to get a flight.  I went with the first 8 on the list, and as expected, all were solid.  The Simtra and Lupulin River stood out, but I could have any of their brews.

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I expect to stop here every time I go to Tahoe, as the beers truly cannot be missed.

http://kneedeepbrewing.com/

Auburn Alehouse

Auburn Alehouse is another good option for stopping on the way to Tahoe.  Auburn Alehouse is right of the freeway in Old Town.  However, there are often decent waits, especially on a nice day to sit outside.  Nonetheless, if you want more of a place to eat, this is probably it.

The Alehouse has a smallish patio out back that is often pretty busy.

They have a large variety of beers, and something for most people’s taste.  Food is decent, and atmosphere is solid.

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The PU240 IIPA was probably my favorite brew.  I would certainly return on a nice day, especially if the plan is to eat lunch or dinner.

http://auburnalehouse.com/

Fifty Fifty Brewing

Fifty Brewing is in Truckee in over by the airport.  It is a prototypical brewpup, with small dog friendly patio.

Beer was decent, but the day we were there the service was less than stellar.  Food was pretty good, again, standard bar food.

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I am inclined to give them another shot, as they were very dog friendly.

http://fiftyfiftybrewing.com/

Tahoe Mountain Brewing

Tahoe Mountain has two locations, one in Truckee and one in Tahoe City.  The Truckee location is a bit off the beaten path, and is just a brewery.  Cool location, small, and the focus is on the beer.  Dog are allowed to hang in the bar area.

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The Tahoe City location is right downtown and has a large patio along the street where dogs are allowed.  The restaurant has a typical brewery menu, burgers, fish and chips, some salad etc.  I had the fish and chips, and it was fantastic.  I get fish and chips alot and this was up there.  The kicker was the homemade tartar-esque sauce.

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They are also making some great beer.  Hop Dragon, Hop Song and Party Boy are all solid brews, especially the Hop Dragon.

Bonus tip: buy their mustard.  It is bomb.  I am not a mustard guy, but something about theirs is special.  The hot sauce is real good too.

http://www.tahoebrewing.com/

Let me know if there are any I missed in the comments.  Otherwise, go get a beer with the pup!

Where to Drink – Anchor Brewing Tour!

I am ashamed to say I have lived in the Bay Area for ten years, and San Francisco for over six (and within a mile of the brewery for all that time), and I only recently did the Anchor Brewing tour.  A big factor was that the tour used to only be on weekdays (but was free!).  However, it used to get booked up months in advance, and it was very hard to get a last minute reservation (one time I called every day for two weeks to try and get in for my birthday, and there were no cancellations).

Recently, Anchor opened the tour up on weekends, and although they now charge $15, having it on the weekend is clutch.  We were able to book about 4 weeks in advance, and had a group of 10.

Anchor is one of the pioneering craft breweries, and only remaining breweries to make steam beer.  Anchor Steam is always a solid option, and is pretty ubiquitous in the City.

The tour starts off in the very cool bar.  The bar is a relic from years past.  Walls are lined with beer trays from other breweries, and the bar is covered in wood.

Tour starts with a (small) pour of Anchor Steam.  There were a couple extras poured so you know I grabbed one of those as well.

You are then brought into the brewery for a tour of the facility.  The copper tuns are a sight.  We got to see the hop rooms, steam rooms, bottling area, barrel room and more.  The brewery has great views of downtown as well.

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During the tour you get a pretty good sense of the history of the brewery, dating back to the late 1800s, to when Maytag purchased and saved the brewery until the present.

After the tour ends, you return to the bar area for a tasting.  On tap for us was Anchor IPA, Liberty Ale, Winter Wheat, California Lager, Barrel Ale, and the 2015 Christmas Ale.

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Liberty and California Lager are my favorite of the Anchor beers at the tasting.  Liberty is a nice, simple but balanced IPA.  California Lager is a prime summer beer.

I was not blown away by the 2015 Christmas.  2013 is my favorite recent vintage.  However, the Christmas “Tree” was pretty cool!

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I was somewhat surprised at the number of beers on tap.  The day before, I went to the Anchor tasting room at the Yard (www.the yardsf.com).  They have 16 beers on tap.  Apparently, the brewery itself only really gets the flagship or most popular beers.  I suppose it makes sense, considering that it is not open to the public, but I was a bit bummed that I had already had every beer they had at the brewery.

Ended the day buying a few things in the gift shop, which was small but sufficient.  It was a great tour, and even more fun with friends.  My wife thoroughly enjoyed herself, and she is not a big beer drinker.  However, non-beer drinkers will enjoy the history, and I think that makes people more willing to try beers they otherwise would not consider.

Overall, a must do when in SF in my humble, beer-loving opinion.  The reservation process is easy but I would plan on booking several weeks in advance for a weekend tour.

Cheers to beers!

http://www.anchorbrewing.com

Where To Drink – Drake’s Dealership

Had a chance to check out the new Drake’s Dealership in Oakland last week, and it was awesome.

Drake’s Dealership is in the new “Hive” gathering place in Uptown Oakland.  The Hive has potential to be a pretty awesome place, with Drake’s and what looks like a few new restaurants, People’s Barbershop etc.  http://hiveoakland.com/

Drake’s is in an old parts and service department for Dodge.  The building is very cool, all brink and timber.  The best part is the huge outdoor beer garden, that is importantly dog-friendly.

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Good ol’ Denogginizer

I did not get a good pic of the space, as I was focused on the beer.  However, above, you can see some of the outdoor area in the background.  There is self-seating or tables, and plenty of it.  They also have a stage area for live bands.

The indoor area is also pretty large, with a large bar area, big open kitchen, and a room that was empty when we went, seems like a good place to have a private party or for overflow.

They had what seemed like all the Drake’s beers on tap, plus about 15 guest beers.  I went with Drake’s IPA, Denogginizer, and the 8×80.  I have had the IPA and Denog many times before, but never seen the 8×80.  Well, the 8×80 was great.  It was bigger than the 7×70, but not overpowering.  A real nice, balanced brew.  Hops were present but not overpowering.  Liked it more than the 7×70.  Hope to see this one around more often.

The food was also great.  We started with some spicy fries, which were bomb (they also have salt and vinegar fries, regular fires, and poutine).  They also have several New Haven style pizzas, which is pretty cool.  My brother lives just outside New Haven, and so I have had Pepe’s pizza several times, and this was a pretty good knock off.  Nice blistered crust, served on a cookie sheet.  Pretty authentic.

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Overall, I loved Drake’s Dealership.  Drakes brews great beer, but the brewery is a little off the beaten path, so the new spot is pretty great, and worth a trip to Oakland on its own.  Look forward to heading back.

Dog Friendly Brewery Series – San Francisco

I love good beer. I also love enjoying good beer with my wife and dog. I therefore really love doing both together. Unfortunately, that is not always possible (unless done at home). Hence, the following series.

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Sara likes herself a good IPA too…

 

I cannot profess to know every single dog friendly brewery in the state, but I do believe I have a pretty good grip of the best ones in a few different areas, namely SF, the Bay Area and north, and the Central Coast. This series will pass along my knowledge on this ever so important topic.

Naturally, the first in this series will focus on dog-friendly breweries in my backyard, San Francisco.  These are in no particular order, just how they came to mind.

(this post got longer than anticipated, which I guess is a good thing as it means there are plenty of dog friendly breweries in the City…)

EDIT – Since writing this blog, a few more dog friendly breweries have opened, including Harmonic Brewing in the Dogpatch and Black Hammer in SOMA, reviews on these to come in the immediate future.

Southern Pacific

I was pretty pumped when I first learned Southern Pacific was opening. New brewery? Score. Patio? Double score. Fish and chips and bar food. Boom.

Southern Pacific is in a cool old warehouse that has been converted into a fairly huge brewery, restaurant, bar. Located at Treat and 19th in the Mission.

We go to Southern Pacific pretty often. On a nice day, sitting on the patio with the dog is tough to beat, but it can get busy.

Pros, great food. Fish and chips are bomb, veggie burger and sage fries are solid. Mac and cheese, rotating salads, most everything has been good if not great.

It is also a pretty fun place if you are just trying to get a little hammed. Good hard alcohol options and pitchers. A few birthday parties/gatherings have been memorable, at least according to those who remember them.

Water bowls for dogs and side chicken breasts keep the pup occupied.

Cons, the beer they brew is not great. The IPA is ok, but I usually get the pale. However, it is pretty cheap. Even better, they usually have several other options (read, other breweries) on tap. Last time, they had Tricerahops. Can’t complain.

http://www.southernpacificbrewing.com

Beach/Park Chalet

Beach Chalet is another perfect good weather day/dog boozing spot. Go for a cruise on the beach, get the dog exhausted, then kick back a few.  Beach Chalet is across from the main parking lot at Ocean beach and at the base of Golden Gate park. The beach across the way is super dog friendly and you can even walk all the way to Fort Funston to really earn the beers.

The dog friendly area is out back in the lawn (which is actually Park Chalet, Beach Chalet is the fancier spot inside upstairs). It is self seating, and there are servers. Getting a seat can be a little tough at times. Servers sometimes are swamped, and getting beers for yourself tends to be easier.

The beers are pretty decent, not going to blow your mind but certainly good enough.

Food is the same. Nothing special, but consistent, decent pub grub. Crab sandwich is my favorite thing. Wife likes the veggie burger and Caesar.

There are always a ton of dogs here, chilling in the grass. Plenty places to quickly take them for a walk if they get cranky.

Biggest con, it is a trek to get out there from our end of town.

http://www.parkchalet.com

Smokestack

Smokestack is the new kid in the dog friendly pack.  Smokestack is in the Dogpatch on 3rd and 22nd.   It seemed to take forever to open, with countless delays, but now we get to enjoy it.

Smokestack is part of Magnolia, and I have only seen the Magnolia beers on tap.  They also have a pretty solid cocktail selection.  Beer is solid, rotating Magnolia options.

Smokestack on its face does not seem like a dog friendly bar.  There is no obvious patio.  However, in the brewery dock along 22nd you can have the pup.  The website says this is “sometimes” open, but everytime we have gone during the DAY, it has been open.  Last time I was there at night it may not have been open, but bringing the dog is more of a day drinking thing anyway.

We have actually never eaten here, but people tell me the BBQ is good, although pricey.  The meat is sold by weight and seems to change often.

PS. After Smokestack you can go across the street to the Dogpatch Saloon, which allows dogs inside, for a good beer and whiskey selection.  PPS.  Go grab a pizza from Longbridge first and bring that to the saloon.

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Sara in the brewery dock, awaiting a bite of Smokestack’s jerky…

http://www.magnoliasmokestack.com/

Rogue

I am including Rogue on this list because they have a taproom (or as they call it, a “meeting hall”) in North Beach that has a big dog friendly patio.  It is not technically a brewery IMO as they do not brew in SF, but this is my blog and I say it counts.

Rogue always has interesting beers on tap.  At the SF location, there is no shortage of options.  I try to try something new every time I go.

The dog friendly area is the big patio out back.  Full service, and can get pretty busy.  But, this is a good “drinking with the dog at night” spot.

Food is pretty decent, tots are always a good choice.

We do not make it over here all that often as it is a trek with the dog.  We can walk there, but then typically will want to get a cab/Uber home, which can be a little more difficult with the pooch.

http://www.rogue.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Menu-SFO.pdf

Triple Voodoo

As I write this I am a bit surprised I have only been to Triple Voodoo once.  A dog friendly brewery that is a ten minute walk from home?  You would think I would be there every week.  However, dog friendly boozing tends to be better outside for me, and Triple Voodoo only has indoor seating.  At they do allow dogs indoors.

Triple Voodoo does not have food, hence the dogs are allowed, but you can get food from the Mexican spot next door.

Their beers seems to be getting better to me, as when they first opened there was not much I liked.  The Anarchy IPA is pretty good right now.  They only have beer, so be warned if you bring a wine-o or cocktail fiend.

One thing that is really cool about Triple Voodoo is they seem to have rescue dog events on a fairly regular occasion.  Drinking for a good cause is always great.

http://triplevoodoo.com

21st Amendment (sometimes)

21st is one of my favorite spots in the city. Great beer, solid food, and I can walk there and stumble home. Like it so much we had our wedding rehearsal dinner there. Open bar of course (think they lost money that night).

 On occasion, 21st uses De Boom Street (yes that is the name) as an outdoor seating area.  When they do this is somewhat of a mystery to me, so we never know if we can go unless we call or walk over.  During baseball season, it is often open, but is very crowded, making it tough for the dog.  However during the off season or non game days, it is a great choice.

Sometimes there are servers, other times you need to order at the bar inside.

21st always has interesting and good beers, in addition to the usual suspects (Brew Free or Die IPA is always a reliable option).

Food is good, mostly typical bar food like burgers, fish tacos and pizza.  Nothing really particular stands out, just depends what I am in the mood for.

They also have a TV outside, but there is only one, and it is a little small and hard to see with the glare.

Live music happens a handful of times of year, which is great.  Apparently they want to do it more but it is inanely expensive to get the City approval yaddy yaddy yada.

http://21st-amendment.com/

Anchor Steam/The Yard at Mission Rock

I wrote a good chunk of this blog over the last week or two, but now there is a new one to add!  The Yard at Mission Rock is a cool pop-up village across McCovey Cove from AT&T.  The biggest draw, by far, is the Anchor beer garden.  A decent sized beer garden with 13 (!) Anchor brews on tap.

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The beer garden is a preview of what is to come in this area, with Anchor expanding to have a new brewery, restaurant etc. over here that is supposed to quadruple their production.  The people at the beer garden tell me they will try and have all the new releases and harder to get beers here.

The Yard is made up of mostly shipping containers, with a few food trucks, a wine bus, and a coffee cart.   “Whole Beast” shares the beer garden and has a decent selection of food.  You can also grab food from one of the food trucks and bring it into the beer garden.

There is no wine or hard alcohol in the beer garden area, and there are a ton of signs that say you cannot bring outside beverages in.  This is not ideal for the wife, who wanted to have some wine.  Hopefully this will change.

In any event, I see myself here often.  Super close, Anchor makes great beer, and great bay views.  They also have a couple TVs outside, which is dangerous.  Beer, dog, wife, outside, AND basketball games?  Uh oh.

http://www.theyardsf.com

Am I missing any?  Let me know in the comments!

SF Beer Week Recap – Part 3

The last post is kind of a beer week post, but mostly a Pliny the Younger post.  It is quite convenient that Beer Week and PTY time overlap, further adding to the craziness (PS. I am pretty surprised to still see PTY showing up and Toronado and City Beer Store this week).

PTY releases are announced, subtly or not, at some places, and others are unannounced.  Naturally, the unannounced ones are a zoo, and require significant free time to make happen.

The announced releases in SF had lines building up for hours, with hundred of people in queue.  I cannot say I am surprised.  This is San Francisco, and I am fairly certain 90% of people do not actually work.  Releases at Monks, Toronado etc. were never going to happen for me.  I was confident I would get it somewhere unannounced or not in the City.  My confidence began to dwindle, however, as the week went on.

First Attempt

Rose and Crown had IPA day Wednesday, and explicitly informed of the PTY release (on an aside, Wednesday was chock full of events, that and Thursday would have been the best days to take off, as Thursday would be a recuperation day).

I “snuck” away from work around 1050 am to get to there.  Stupidly, I figured there would not be that long of a line on a Wednesday morning in Palo Alto, as i assumed most Peninsula folk were working (that only happens in SF right? – WRONG). With only a 5 gallon keg, I figured I did not have much of a shot, but wanted to see anyway.  I was there and I was not going to give up that easily.

After waiting a little over an hour and a half I fell about 10 people short.  To be honest, i was surprised I was that close.  It turns out they were doing 6 oz. pours, but it still lasted longer than the line seemed to indicate.  Defeated, I instead got a Pliny the Elder (*note, I was shocked to see how many people left after they announced the PTY was out.  You just waited in line an hour plus, you have earned a beer, and there were plenty of great options on tap).

I have never historically fallen into the Pliny obsession.  I enjoy the beer, but do not fully embrace the craze of getting it (and I actually probably like Blind Pig better than Pliny, and there are a bunch of DIPAs out there that are just as good or better).  That being said, Russian River has done a masterful job of getting people hooked and the limited releases make the hunt almost more exciting than the beer.  After getting denied the Younger I was determined to get it.

However, something about being in line on a killer, sunny Wednesday morning and talking to strangers about beer, while waiting to get a beer, was a really fun experience.  Certainly not something you do too often, and probably only something you can do in a place like the Bay Area in February.  Even though I did not score the Younger that day, I learned about some new beers, an insider tip on where PTY would be the next day unadvertised (and I could not go down to Hayward to next day to get it, but the tip was right), and got to have a Pliny the Elder for lunch.  In the end, the hunt and wait, although deflating, was pretty damn fun.

So, the hunt continued.

 How Not to Get It

After several more days of trying to find Pliny in the new “high tech” way (Taplist, Twitter, Instagram…), and several near misses, a realization I have had in many facets of my life re-emerged.  Sometimes getting things the old fashioned way works best.

Just like connecting with old friends, getting new business, and apparently getting Pliny the Younger, apps and Twitter and the Internet are not the best solution. After missing out at Rose and Crown, I found myself frantically checking Twitter, Untapped, Taplist etc. trying to smell out the next Pliny pour. I messaged bars that I knew were going to get it and did not have much luck. Eventually the Marriot Marquis was nice enough to mention me in a tweet when they were tapping theirs, but I was 30 miles away. A lifetime in Pliny season.

After many near misses that are not worth chronicling, I realized I should just hit the pavement and ask a “friend” at the closest bar to us that regularly gets the Pliny. We frequent this particular spot fairly regularly, and thus are friendly with many of the people that work there and that is all it took.  While enjoying a different beer specially created for SF Beer Week, I asked and I received, PTY on tap the next morning.  With the scoop in hand, the next day I was enjoying several Plinys with little to no wait.

So, How Was It?

I was fearful, and assuming, the Younger would not live up to the hype. How could it? People waiting in line 8 hours at the brewery?!  People camping out in front of Toronado? Me obsessively refreshing my Twitter feed (ok, not that big of a commitment, but still, I was getting anxious thinking I would miss it).

To my pleasant surprise, it was pretty damn good. So good, my wife, who I do not think has ever liked an IPA I have given her, even liked it.

PTY pours a fairly translucent golden orange.  Minimal head, nice lacing.

pliny one

I got enough in my first order to tide me over for an hour or so…

pliny 2

I invited a couple friends, who made sure to get enough to last them as well.  The picture below shows the nice lacing.

MmmMmm

MmmMmm

Nice citrus and tropical fruit notes are present on the nose.  Some light floral tones as well.

Alcohol content is somewhere between 10 and 11.5%, but there is no boozyness in Mr. Younger.

The one thing that is unmistakable about this beer is its balance.  Less malty than the Elder, dare I say perfect bitterness and hops, and smooth as you could imagine.  Crisp and juicy citrus flavors.  Incredibly drinkable.  Does not feel like a Triple IPA as it is not a “hop bomb.”

My personal favorite part, perfectly clean finish with no aftertaste.

99/100 – my highest review ever.  I did not expect this to happen, but it was so damn smooth I had no choice.

Conclusion

Beer week was a hell of a time.  I cannot imagine any city putting on a better one, just because of the size of our city and the plethora of breweries close to home.  Next year mandates that I take a few days off to fully enjoy the entire event.  I definitely need to attend the Opening Gala, and probably the DIPA fest in Hayward.

I am already looking forward to next year, and must thank all the hard working people from the SF Brewer’s Guild for an incredible week.

SF Beer Week Recap – Part 2

The middle of the week saw a few more events for me and a few more great beers.  I found myself wishing I had taken a day or two off to really immerse myself in the fun, but as it worked out, I had a pretty busy work week and was somewhat limited in the events I could go to.

Rose and Crown IPA Day

Wednesday saw me attend the Rose and Crown event, which was labeled as an IPA Day, but in reality was a battle for the Pliny the Younger.  I headed over to the Rose and Crown around 10:55 and ended up being in line until 12:30 and missed the PTY by about 10 people.  My last post in this series will deal solely with the Pliny hunt/craze/shitshow so I will save that for now.

In the end, I did enjoy a Pliny the Elder as my consolation prize. I have not yet written a review on the Pliny the Elder, so will do an abridged one now. Personally, I have never been as impressed by Pliny the Elder as most people.  It is a solid beer, but the true genius in it may just be the intentional or unintentional marketing and limited availability.  There is a sense of accomplishment when you get one on draft or have a “friend” at a store who will save some for you or let you know when they are coming in.  The beer itself is very good, but the hunt is where people seem to lose sight. Elder pours a deep golden orange.  Limited head that tends to stick to the glass. pliny Nose is strong citrus, pine and pineapple notes.  Flavor mimics the nose with some substantial hoppy bitterness.  Fairly crisp, and the fresher the better it seems.  One fallback for me is it is fairly dry. It is a great beer, but it does not distinguish itself for me as some people suggest.  I actually may even prefer Blind Pig. 94/100

Firestone Tap Takeover at Steep Brew Potrero (Whole Foods)

Thursday was a tough call for me, Firestone Tap Takeover or Ballast Point Tap Takeover at Public House.  I opted for Firestone’s event as I had had many of the Ballast Point beers already.  In a perfect world, or if I did not have to work early the next morning, I would have hit both (cue the boos).

I had the Double Jack and a Sucaba at the Firestone Event.  There was an option to do three samples and a cheese pairing, but I was only interested in one of the beers offered for the pairing.

I have had every iteration in the “Jack” Series (Union Jack, Easy Jack, Wookey Jack, Double Jack) and am thoroughly impressed with all of them.

Double Jack rings in at 9.5% ABV and 85 IBUs. Pour is a nice fairly clear orange with a decent frothy head. jack Nose fills of grapefruit and oranges with a ton of hops. The flavor is piney with full frontal hops, but still balanced and smooth.  Nice sticky mouthfeel with some minimal malty sweetness.

A really quality DIPA. 93/100

http://www.firestonebeer.com/beers/products/double-jack

I also tried the §ucaba, which is a monster Barleywine.  Heavy on the bourbon and boozyness, this is a sipper for sure.

Other Events, Stand Outs

I had intended to cheat on IPA and go to the Almanac and Friends Sourfest at Public House on Friday night, however at 3:30 the line was already 40 deep, and I was in a suit and did not want to wait in the sun for a non-IPA event.  When I went back at 5, there was still a significant line, so headed across the street to Lucky Strike for some Lagunitas.  In two hours at Lucky Strike, the line at Public House never really diminished, so I never made.

I was able to enjoy a few beers at StrEAT Food SOMA the next day, including the Bear Republic Hop Shovel.  Nice, floral beer, and was pretty solid on the hot day that Saturday was.  This event was just “OK”, especially considering a few of the beers sold out pretty quick.  I was hoping to try 101 North’s Heroine IPA but they were sold out by 12:45.

I also tried the Money Paw/Drake’s Special SF Beer Week collabo at Public House, which was decent.  It was very smooth, but also fairly run of the mill.  Nothing that particularly stood out about that one, but it is always cool to see breweries work together.

monkey

A mentioned, to really embrace all Beer Week offers, you have to take a day or two off.  Wednesday in particular was chock-full of events, and would have loved to have Wednesday and Thursday off to enjoy and recover…next year.

I will have one more blog on SF Beer Week soon, with a focus on the unicorn of West Coast craft beer.