Tuesday, 7 July 2015

A busy day in San Diego

I finish the last of the barbecue before checking out. Jellied joy.

My taxi driver is thick, squat Russian, probably about my age. Which makes me feel much better about my own paunch. He talks on the phone the whole journey.

We pass several construction sites. New apartment blocks seemingly built from plywood. The word flimsy comes to mind. Not sure I’d want my book collection housed in something made of cardboard.

The area around the airport hasn’t got any prettier since my arrival. I’m flying United and get dropped at their economy checkin. Only when approaching the checkin machine do I remember that I’ve got a first class ticket.

I’ve been given TSA pre again. Great. Shorter queue, less of a striptease required. I’d contemplated a fry up airside. But I’m not really that hungry. No rush to get to the gate, as I’ve a first class ticket. How on earth can I pass the time? Bourbon.

Bourbon is my greatest airport chum. Though nowadays there’s often an IPA trailing behind him. Decent beer is getting pretty common in airport bars.

Did I mention that I’ve a first class ticket? It wasn’t hugely more expensive than economy. Taking into account that I’ve two checked in bags which would have cost $25 a pop. And the dozen whiskies I plan necking during the flight. "Not really more expensive at all, Dolores."

The flight is packed. As pretty much every United flight I’ve taken recently has been. But the squalor is safely out of sight behind the first class curtain.

Surprisingly, I can remember San Diego airport from last year. Why surprisingly? Because I’ve been through so many airports, they’ve all blurred into one. The baggage reclaim is right by the exit. Just a few steps from the taxi rank.

Finding a hotel in San Diego was a nightmare. Most were either too expensive or too scummy. Finally I settled on the Britt Scripps Inn. It continues the historic theme on my San Francisco hotel, being a Victorian banker’s villa. The staircase is gorgeous, carved wood illuminated by a leaded glass window.

The house was built in 1887 and is furnished in period. Which makes the downstairs look like the set for an Edwardian costume drama. And that my room has a rolltop bath and no telephone. What would I do if I needed a wake-up call?

I have to hurry. I’ve arranged to meet Kris Ketcham, brewer at Stone Liberty Station, at 4 PM. There are a couple of reasons why. He’s a nice bloke. And he’s recently brewed a recipe of mine and I’d like to try the beer.

I’d almost forgotten the humungousness of Liberty Station. And the oddly positioned the main entrance. The waitress seems to be expecting me and seats me at the bar. Soon a glass of Murder She Rotte is in my sweaty hand. It’s a lovely shade of brown, as you’d expect from a Beiersch. It’s a tasty drop. I’m pretty pleased. Pretty, pretty pleased.

Kris turns up. His beard longer than ever. Longer even than those of Lexie’s classmates. What is it with brewers and beards? I give him a bottle of Jopen Dark Gerste No. 1. It’s the little brother of Kris’s beer, Heineken’s cheap and cheerful Dark Lager from before WW I. He puts it in an ice bucket so we can drink the two side by side.

I have to admit a certain perverse glee in getting Stone to brew an old Heineken recipe. Kris doesn’t seem to mind and is happy with the finished beer. We chat a little, but I can’t linger long. At 18:30 I’m being picked up from my hotel.

When I’m in the taxi I realise that we forgot to open the Dark Gerste. Damn. I’d have like to have compared the two.

Sheldon Kaplan turns up on the dot. I met him last year on the sweltering afternoon a wild fire swept to within a couple of hundred metres of Stone’s Escondido brewery. We’ve kept in touch since.

I’ve never been much far north of the city centre before. I’m surprised to discover that the original Spanish town was here, on the river, quite a distance from the current downtown. There’s the odd adobe building, sometimes original. How did I manage to be totally unaware of this part of town?

I’m not quite sure what to expect or what’s expected of me tonight. The original plan was for me to talk about Lager. I realise immediately that isn’t doing to happen the taproom is inside the brewery and activity in the brewhouse is pretty loud. Looks like it will just be meeting people.

I spread a few books on a table and I await punters, beer in hand. Not just any beer. It’s the final one in the set. Which set? Heineken Rotterdam’s Dark Lagers from 1911. This one is the Bok and, if I’m honest, it’s my favourite of the three.

People appear and chat with me. Amongst them Grant Fraley of ChuckAlek. Someone else I met on my last visit. He’s driving me down to Mexico on Friday, something I’m dead excited about. It’s not a huge crowd. A few books dribble away from the table. When that dribble runs dry, me and Sheldon take our leave.

He’s promised to take me to Pacific beach. To, er, walk on the beach. Then take in a couple of beer destinations nearby. A long gets even longer as we linger at length. In Amplifies Aleworks a young woman sitting next to asks where we’re from. She must have heard our accents. Mine, obviously, is English, Sheldon’s a confusing mix of Aussie and South African.

She’s been stood up and decides to tag along on our drunken evening. We move on to another place nearby the TapRoom, which stays open later. We loiter until until all the other losers leave. The latest I’ve been out by far this trip.

Sleep jumps on my back as soon as I undress. Without the help of Mr. Laphroaig.

Britt Scripps Inn
406 Maple Street
San Diego, 92103 CA

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Liberty Station
2816 Historic Decatur Rd #116
San Diego, CA 92106

Coronado Brewing Company Tasting Room
1205 Knoxville St
San Diego, CA 92110

ChuckAlek Independent Brewers
2330 Main St, Suite C
Ramona, CA 92065

Amplified Ale Works
Promenade at Pacific Beach Shopping Center
4150 Mission Blvd #208
San Diego, CA 92109

The TapRoom
1269 Garnet Ave
San Diego, CA 92109

Monday, 6 July 2015

My Berliner Weisse talk

The slides from my Ttalk on Berliner Weisse, give as part of the Carnevale Brettanomyces.


Freewheeling in Frisco

No need for breakfast angst today. Plenty of congealed barbecue in the fridge.

This is my last day in San Francisco. Tomorrow I’m off to San Diego for three nights. With a side order of Mexico. When did I last visit a new country? That’s a good question. Almost three years ago when I went to Canada for the first time.

What’s plan for the day? According to my itinerary document, I’m free until 6 PM. I just have to fill my time until then. If only I could think of something to do. I know – maybe I could drink beer in a bar. That would make a change.

My itinerary also has a list of beery pubs not too far from my hotel. Most I’ve either already visited or don’t open until too late. Leaving a single candidate: Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen. Which supposedly has 18 draught beers. That’ll do. I put on my walking shoes* and head East.

It’s nicely overcast and not too hot. Lovely weather for a walk. Partly through what I call the Piss Quarter. Dodgy hotels with grand names and liquor stores line its streets. People sit on its pavements. I wouldn’t, given the smell. I’m even tempted to hose down the soles of my shoes on return. A dazed girl with matchstick legs seems to be making a drug deal with two well scummy blokes. I love this city.

Jasper’s isn’t at all what I’d expected. Much more modern and upmarket. And rather bland. All the excitement of a 1960's airport bar. The dullest sort of modernity imaginable. As drab as John Major in monchrome.

I’ve no excuse. I could easily have checked on the internet. It’s on the ground floor of a hotel. Rather swanky looking, in fact. Well, swanky in comparison to the piss palaces I’ve just passed.

As usual, I park my fat sorry arse at the bar. It’s pretty quiet, despite being midday. A solitary suited gent to my right, a middle-aged couple to my left. All drinking wine. Not a great sign. At least I don't have to look at the sorry seating from here. In front of me is a proud army of spirits.

The friendly young bearded barman (aren’t they all nowadays) tells me it’s Taco Tuesday, they’re tasty and cheap. Mr. suit to my right seems to agree. He’s tucking enthusiastically into a row of three. “Maybe later,“ I tell him, “I need to work up an appetite first.” I start on that straight away.

Pine Street Atom Splitter $7

Ah yes! Here’s the murk! Hazy copper. Not much aroma. A subdued citrus thing going on. Like music played several doors away. I guess it’s a PA rather than an IPA (the internet confirms this). OK, but nowt special. What Do I care? I just want something wet and alcoholic to fill the afternoon.

Looking at the prices here, I realise Toronado is dead cheap. I could have gone there again today, but it’s a bit of a walk. I’m getting a bit tight as I try to pay for everything with cash from my book sales. I only spent $30 yesterday and had two pints of Pliny!

There’s a Golden Corral ad on the TV. It makes me want to vomit. Literally. Bad associations from last year. Best have another beer.

Anchor Zymurgy Luxardo $8 6% ABV
Reasonably clear, very dark amber colour. Smells a bit like it’s got Goldings in it. But ingredient guessing is a mug’s game. Not so keen on this. Has a boiled sweet flavour and a weird caramel twang**. Luckily I’ve a side order of Buffalo Trace. That’s really nice: sweet, spicy and with a touch of lemon. Dead good.

Last night with Brian was dead cool. We chatted away like crazy all night He’s a great guy and brews brilliant beer. Odd how you can only meet someone a couple of times but become good friends.

Stone Enjoy By 9.4% ABV
Pale yellow, clear (once you wipe away the condensation). Yippee!. Smells absolutely fucking lovely. Every sort of citrus. That’s what I call an American IPA*** – juicy as a sexually aroused lemon.

I do believe my appetite has just walked through the door. It was worth waiting for him. I get a taco. $3 and pretty damn good. Especially with a good dousing of hot sauce. I’m tempted to get another.

I’m a lucky git. Getting to visit all sorts of places and meet all types of people. Even though this trip isn’t working out exactly as planned, I’m having all kinds of legal (and morally acceptable) fun. Not travelling every other day is relaxing. I’ve had chance to look around and get to know San Francisco a little. Not that I’ve seen any of the sights. Other than Toronado and the Haight.

Stone Enjoy By 9.4% ABV
Again. Say what you like about Stone, they brew some dead good beer. And I don’t say that just because I’m meeting one of their brewers tomorrow. I hope. The whole San Diego thing has gone pretty much tits up. But, hey, if you don’t try failure is inevitable.

I’m a bit buzzed. Unsurprisingly after those Double IPAs and bourbon. Time to walk home and have a bit of a lie down.

A bloke sat next to me at the bar in Toronado complimented me on still writing on paper. Is it really any different from writing on a computer? I’m not convinced. I think I write the same whatever the medium. Except with handwritten stuff I sometimes can’t read it all. I guess I am more honest in my notes. Some stuff I’ll never publish. Like . .

[Redacted section]

Luckily the walk back is pretty flat. Except for the last chunk of Sutter street. No getting around that. Next time I’ll try to find a hotel that isn’t on the top of a hill.

21st Amendment, the brewpub location of tonight’s event, is downtown. I get a cab with what I think is plenty of time to spare. Except I have to cross the Financial District. And it’s rush hour. We inch from one traffic light to the next. I’ve barely time to grab a beer before the fun starts.

I’ve been invited by Chris Cohen to speak to the San Francisco Homebrewers Guild. A, er, home brewers’ club. About brewing historic beer. It seems I’m an expert on the topic. How did that happen?

The brewer talks a little before I’m on. He’s miked up. Just as well because it’s loud. We’re in a small first floor section, while below in the main bar a raucous after work crowd roars and bellows, glasses clink and chairs rumble.

It’s always a bit odd, these few minutes before I go on. Especially for unscripted chats like tonight’s. What exactly am I going to say? “Hello, I’m Ron Pattinson, beer historian. Buy me a beer.” Once I start, the words are always there, somehow. But there are always a few moments of doubt before.

How long do I speak for? 30 minutes? 45 minutes? I’ve no idea. I genuinely completely lose track of time. That’s how much I enjoy listening to my own voice. Home brewers are a good audience because they ask good questions. OK, there’s the occasional annoying smart arse, trying to show off how much he knows. Thankfully not tonight.

I shift a few books and chat beer when my talk is done. I don’t stay too late. My flight tomorrow is at 10:15 AM. Meaning I’ll need to be checked out by 8 AM. A couple of beers keep me company until it’s time to put out my lights. Something that takes little effort. Especially after Mr. Laphroaig has paid his nightly visit.

* My only pair of shoes. Not just the only pair I have with me, but the only pair I own.
** Actually it contains Maraschino cherries. Could explain the sweetness.
*** According to Stone it’s a Double IPA.

Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen
401 Taylor St
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States
Open  6:30 am – 12:00 am

"Brewer's Loft" at 21st Amendment brewery
563 2nd St,
San Francisco, CA 94107

The San Francisco Homebrewers Guild

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Let's Brew posts views

I noticed that the some of the recipes I've posted get far more hits than others. Time to take a closer look.

And put together a table:

year beer style views date posted
1868 1868 William Younger No. 3 Export Strong Ale 4737 08/02/2012
1914 1914 Courage Imperial Stout 4323 29/02/2012
1859 1859 Barclay Perkins EI Porter 4268 22/11/2012
1952 1952 Lees Best Mild Mild 3727 28/07/2010
1923 1923 Courage Stout Stout 2932 14/11/2013
1811 1811 Whitbread Porter Porter 2810 05/01/2011
1967 1967 Eldridge Pope Hardy Ale Strong Ale 2744 13/03/2013
1945 1945 Tetley's Mild Mild 2542 16/01/2014
1987 1987 Boddington's Bitter Pale Ale 2540 02/05/2012
1890 1890 Truman Export Stout Stout 2527 06/01/2010
1936 1936 Mackeson Stout Stout 2513 07/10/2010
1935 Fullers OBE Strong Ale 2345 09/06/2010
1879 1879 William Younger No.1 Strong Ale 2334 18/01/2012
1928 1928 Barclay Perkins IPA IPA 2253 18/11/2010
1839 1839 Barclay Perkins XXX Mild 2248 24/03/2010
1909 1909 Maclay's Oatmalt Stout Stout 2035 13/06/2012
1909 1909 Beer Style Guide Courage Imperial Stout recipe correction Stout 1951 16/02/2012
1965 1965 Courage Light Ale Light Ale 1804 07/10/2009
1868 1868 Younger XP IPA 1734 15/09/2011
1943 1943 Whitbread Oat Mild Mild 1722 28/01/2010
1962 1962 Harp Lager Lager 1719 30/09/2009
1923 1923 Courage KKK Strong Ale 1679 07/11/2013
1896 1896 Eldridge Pope AK Pale Ale 1669 17/01/2013
1868 1868 Younger No. 3 Strong Ale 1669 28/09/2011
1934 1934 Kidd XXX Strong Ale 1633 13/04/2011
1911 1911 Russell AK Pale Ale 1606 24/08/2011
1987 1987 Oldham Mild Mild 1540 10/05/2012
1804 1804 Barclay Perkins Table Beer Table Beer 1519 04/11/2010
1971 1971 Whitbread Tankard Pale Ale 1513 04/12/2013
1945 1945 Tetley's Bitter Pale Ale 1510 05/02/2014
1834 1834 St. Stephen's Porter Porter 1510 14/01/2010
1885 1885 Younger XP IPA 1493 25/10/2013
1834 1834 Vassar Double Ale Ale 1487 12/10/2012
1955 1955 Whitbread Forest Brown Brown Ale 1463 04/03/2009
1885 1885 Usher's IP Pale Ale 1440 09/11/2011
1914 1914 Fullers AK Pale Ale 1408 18/08/2011
1923 1923 Courage X Mild 1366 21/11/2013
1987 1987 Boddington's Mild Mild 1338 16/05/2012
1928 1928 Barclay Perkins KK (bottling) Strong Ale 1337 18/03/2010
1930 1930 Whitbread AK Pale Ale 1285 03/08/2011
1972 1972 Whitbread Gold Label Strong Ale 1278 25/12/2013
1913 1913 William Younger No. 3 Strong Ale 1232 21/03/2012
1885 1885 Usher's PA Pale Ale 1224 16/11/2011
1913 1913 William Younger No. 1 Strong Ale 1220 28/03/2012
1923 1923 Barclay Perkins XLK Pale Ale 1216 02/02/2011
1879 1879 William Younger No.3 Strong Ale 1212 02/02/2012
1942 1942 Barclay Perkins KK Strong Ale 1205 02/03/2011
1923 1923 Fuller's XK Pale Ale 1200 07/02/2013
1883 1883 Truman Export Pale Ale Pale Ale 1192 13/07/2011
1823 1823 Devenish Porter Porter 1191 12/02/2014
1953 1953 Ben Truman Pale Ale 1164 22/04/2010
1867 1867 Courage Double Stout Stout 1142 08/08/2012
1948 1948 Portsmouth and Brighton United Breweries Pompey Royal Pale Ale 1142 27/06/2012
1933 1933 Barclay Perkins KKKK Strong Ale 1135 22/12/2010
1877 1877 Whitbread XPS Stout 1133 25/05/2011
1941 1941 Barclay Perkins IBS Stout 1130 11/02/2010
1959 1959 Watneys Brown Ale Brown Ale 1106 29/04/2015
1900 1900 Amsdell Porter Porter 1083 14/11/2012
1941 1941 Whitbread Strong IPA IPA 1080 15/10/2009
1955 1955 Fullers X Mild 1078 07/06/2012
1877 1877 Whitbread KKK Strong Ale 1064 09/07/2009
1833 1833 Vassar Pale Double Ale Ale 1055 01/11/2012
2000 Zum Uerige Alt Alt 1041 05/11/2014
1868 1868 Tetley's X3P Stout Stout 1032 15/08/2012
1955 1955 Whitbread XXX Mild 1028 03/03/2010
1895 1895 Truman Export Stout Stout 1026 25/07/2012
1921 1921 Truman XXX Mild 1018 28/05/2014
1952 1952 Mackeson Stout Stout 998 01/11/2010
1840 1840 Truman Export Stout Stout 990 07/07/2011
1942 1942 Barclay Perkins XX Mild 982 17/03/2011
1868 1868 William Younger DBS Stout 980 26/10/2011
1890 1890 Truman Imperial, Double and SS Stout Stout 974 28/04/2010
1924 1924 Barclay Perkins RNS Stout 960 11/07/2012
1971 1971 Whitbread Brewmaster Export Pale Ale 955 11/12/2013
1915 1915 Noakes Double Stout Stout 927 01/08/2012
1987 1987 Boddington's ELM Mild 915 23/05/2012
1879 1879 Whitbread XX Export Strong Ale 878 30/06/2011
1951 1951 Lees "C" Ale Strong Ale 872 25/07/2010
1933 1933 Kidd AK Pale Ale 867 06/04/2011
1962 1962 Barclay Perkins Sparkling Beer Lager 865 26/09/2012
1962 1962 Fullers ELP, LP, PA, LA Pale Ale 844 29/07/2009
1896 1896 Eldridge Pope LTS Stout 832 23/01/2013
1934 1934 Kidd PA Pale Ale 830 28/04/2011
1923 1923 Whitbread IPA IPA 826 16/04/2014
1938 Starkey, Knight and Ford Bitter of some sort Pale Ale 823 10/12/2014
1910 1910 Fuller's Porter Porter 821 28/02/2009
1868 1868 Younger 60/- Scotch Ale 819 13/10/2011
1934 1934 Barclay Perkins Draught Lager Lager 811 29/08/2012
1868 1868 William Younger 140/- Scotch Ale 809 05/10/2011
1950 1950 Whitbread Exp PA Pale Ale 807 20/07/2011
1971 1971 Whitbread Final Selection Strong Ale 796 19/12/2013
1868 1868 Younger Table Beer Table Beer 779 20/10/2011
1942 1942 Barclay Perkins XLK Pale Ale 778 11/03/2011
1949 1949 William Younger XXPS IPA 762 11/04/2012
1915 1915 Courage X Mild 751 11/03/2009
1864 1864 Lovibond XXXX Strong Ale 713 24/12/2014
1909 1909 Maclay PI 60/- Pale Ale 711 18/12/2013
1934 1934 Barclay Perkins Ale 4d Mild 702 12/01/2011
1911 1911 Heineken (Rotterdam) Gerstebeer  Lager 689 25/02/2015
1868 1868 William Younger Bg Porter 689 21/09/2011
1894 1894 Usher's Stout Stout 688 07/12/2011
1928 1928 Barclay Perkins IBS Stout 671 01/12/2010
1913 1913 Adnams XX Mild Mild 658 06/05/2015
1885 1885 Usher's 40/- Scotch Ale 657 24/11/2011
1958 1958 Lees Best Mild Mild 656 04/08/2010
1943 1943 Whitbread XXXX Mild 649 09/06/2009
1954 1954 Whitbread XXX Mild Mild 646 03/06/2015
1949 1949 William Younger DBS Stout 635 26/04/2012
1868 1868 William Younger 120/- Scotch Ale 633 03/11/2011
1938 1938 Starkey, Knight and Ford Milk Stout Stout 623 03/12/2014
1924 1924 Barclay Perkins Export PA Pale Ale 620 11/05/2011
1921 1921 Barclay Perkins BS S Irish Stout type Stout 614 10/03/2010
1936 1936 Barclay Perkins KKKK Strong Ale 607 01/07/2009
1962 1962 Fullers Nourishing Stout Stout 603 04/08/2009
1923 1923 Whitbread IPA IPA 596 02/03/2009
1919 1919 Barclay Perkins X Mild 594 19/01/2011
1890 1890 Adnams XX Mild 569 13/05/2015
1868 1868 William Younger No. 2 Strong Ale 565 22/02/2012
1936 1936 Barclay Perkins DB Brown Ale 559 25/06/2009
1925 1925 Barclay Perkins Dark Lager Lager 540 25/03/2015
1955 1955 Fullers Old Harry Brown Ale 538 08/04/2015
1952 1952 Strong XXX Mild Mild 536 27/05/2015
1920 1920 Fullers XX Mild 534 18/12/2009
1923 1923 Barclay Perkins XLK Pale Ale 519 08/12/2010
1959 1959 Watneys XX Mild Mild 517 20/05/2015
1871 1871 Carlsberg Mild Mild 507 22/05/2015
1928 1928 Barclay Perkins Export PA Pale Ale 503 14/10/2010
1962 1962 Fullers OH Brown Ale 503 22/07/2009
1894 1894 Usher's PA Pale Ale 500 16/12/2011
1911 1911 Heineken Bok Lager 499 04/03/2015
1911 1911 Heineken Pils Lager 488 11/03/2015
1957 1957 Robert Younger Export Pale Ale 464 22/04/2015
1928 1928 Barclay Perkins Ale 4d Mild 454 11/11/2010
1938 1938 Starkey, Knight and Ford FA Mild 451 17/12/2014
1928 1928 Barclay Perkins Export Lager 438 18/03/2015
1941 1941 Whitbread weak IPA IPA 432 21/10/2009
1953 1953 Lees Stout Stout 419 29/09/2010
1954 1954 Lees Golden Brew Strong Ale 417 15/04/2015
1932 1932 Barclay Perkins Draught Lager Lager 417 01/04/2015
1939 1939 Barclay Perkins Sparkling Beer Lager 406 21/02/2015
1953 1953 Truman No.7 Mild 401 27/01/2011
1921 1921 Barclay Perkins PA Pale Ale 398 24/02/2010
1950 1950 Whitbread Best Ale Mild 397 13/05/2009
1849 1849 Barclay Perkins EI Porter 389 27/02/2009
1923 1923 Whitbread Mild Mild 388 01/03/2009
1864 1864 Christmas beer Strong Ale 381 24/12/2009
1920 1920 Fullers PA, AK, XK Pale Ale 360 06/05/2009
1952 1952 Strong Black Bess Stout Stout 355 17/06/2015
1909 1909 Maclays 54/- PI Pale Ale 303 19/08/2009
1920 1920 Fullers XX Mild 296 22/02/2009
1917 1917 Whitbread GA and 1918 Whitbread MA Mild 295 01/04/2009
1918 1918 Whitbread IPA IPA 268 15/04/2009
1860 1860 Truman XXX Mild 268 23/02/2009
1917 1917 Whitbread IPA IPA 256 07/04/2009
1918 1918 Courage X Mild 251 18/03/2009
1914 1914 Ushers 48/- and 54/- Pale Ale 246 23/09/2009
1917 1917 Whitbread X Mild 245 25/03/2009
1950 1950 Whitbread Mild Mild 237 09/03/2009
1923 1923 Whitbread 1923 PA Pale Ale 234 03/03/2009
1936 1936 Barclay Perkins KKKK Strong Ale 226 02/07/2009
1918 1918 Barclay Perkins GA Mild 211 04/02/2010
1942 1942 Barclay Perkins KK Strong Ale 201 05/06/2009

I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my old favourites, Younger's No. 3, top the list. And that there were two Milds in the top 10, Lees and Tetley. Though several home brewers have told me how much they like the Lees Best Mild and how the regularly make it.

That Harp Lager fell just outside the top 20 is quite a shock. Then again, Harp is a beer that weqirdly fascinates me.

If I'm honest, many of the results baffle me. Why the lack of love for Lees Stout? And how come Devenish Porter beats Ben Truman?

Sorry being a bit lazy today.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

The Haight

No breakfast worries this morning. My doggy bag of BBQ contains more than enough for the rest of my stay in San Francisco. Possibly enough for the rest of the month.

With my taxi bill cosying up to Dolores and threatening to kick me out of my home, I decide to walk.

I should tell you where I’m going, I suppose. Or maybe why first. Or when. Or how.

Why? Because it’s in walking distance (see previous comment about taxi bill). And I’m getting the hang of getting about in San Francisco: don’t walk up a hill unless you have to.

When? Just before midday.

How? To the right. I’ve only ever turned left on leaving the Majestic so far.

I should have explored more. There’s an offie much closer on turning right. And more. Japantown.

Whenever I travel, I have you’re a fucking idiot Ronald moments. This is one. I could have eaten here rather in that spookily-empty Chinese.

I’m learning about the history of the city, as well as of my own stupidity. My hotel I know predates the earthquake and fire.  Lots of the houses look Victorian. Then I find one with a date: 1878. Doesn’t look like the fire troubled this hill.

Almost forgot. Where am I going? Hippy central.

Having read the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers as a small child, and the classic “Needle Sharing on the Haight” as a sociology student, I couldn’t drop in San Francisco without dropping by its old hippy heaven. And Toronado. A legendary boozer.

The sun is shining almost as much as the arse of my kecks. That’s a bad thing. Not a huge fan of hot and sticky. Unless it’s a barbecue sauce.

Drugs Free Zone? Confiscating pensioners’ prescriptions are they? What total shite is that? You may as well declare an Air Free Zone or Dirt Free Zone. Ain’t never going to happen.

Despite the uphill section at the end, the walk is quite fun. In a sweaty really wishing I could afford a taxi sort of way.

Not sure what I expected of Haight Street. Fat Freddy, probably. He was always my favourite. The sort of chav to suck down suds with in a dive bar.

I’m surprised by how small an dive-bary Toronado is. That’s a pleasant surprise. The barman, a sort of burned out old hippy, is convincingly surly in his service. I’m warming to this place already. This is my natural habitat, gut leaning on the bar, my mind freewheeling. Nothing to do but drink and watch and listen. I love pubs.

Now isn’t that a coincidence? There are several Moonlight beers in their extensive cask list. The owner, Brian Hunt, is a friend. And a shit-hot brewer. Whom I'll be meeting later. I start with one of his classics:

Moonlight Death and Taxes $4
Nearly black, tanish head. Just noticed they have two cask Moonlight beers. Damn. Oh well, I wanted to try this again, anyway. Slightly metallic, smoke coffee and toffee. Chocolate, too.  This is nice. Fucking nice. Have a second pint nice.

Bum, bum, bum. I just filled my camera’s memory card. And I can’t work out how to delete images, old technophobe that I am.

God it’s cheap in here. Even cheaper than the prices on the menu. Must be some sort of happy hour because there’s a dollar off all the draughts. Cash only, mind you. Pay as you go. I do the leaving the change on the bar thing that I picked up when living in New York.

Time for another beer.

Moonlight Twist of Fate Bitter (cask) $4
Pretty dark for a Bitter. Just about in Dark Mild country. Fairly decent head and it’s in reasonable condition. I was a bit worried about that. Biscuity malt, a pleasant undertone of bitterness, carbonation as soft as a wimp’s handshake. Very drinkable.

Moonlight Bombay by Boat (cask) $4
Much paler than the last beer. More hoppy, unsurprisingly, similar carbonation soft as fresh puppy shit. Bit of citrus. Nice tasting bitterness again. Very nice. Again. Brian really can brew.

Pliny the Elder $5
Very pale yellow, fuck all head. I can smell it from here. Has than lemon washing up liquid thing going on. That is nice. Loads of hop flavour. I can see why people go so crazy over it.

It’s been a bit like a Brian tribute session – all his beers except Pliny. And that has a connection with him, too. It’s what he brought over for me last time he visited Amsterdam.

The barman is pretty cool in a Big Lebowski sort of way. Just asked him if they have Guinness American Lager. They don’t, so I’ve made do with another Pliny. That shows the power of advertising – I’ve seen TV ads for Guinness Lager.

I really like this place. The barman is starting to warm to me, even chatting a little. So different from the full-on trendiness of the Mikkeller Bar. And with much lower prices. 5$ for a US pint of Pliny – how reasonable is that?

I bravely return by foot. By a flatter route. I’m getting the hang of this San Francisco walking lark. In a boring, illogical European city, the streets would follow the contours of the land. And avoid unnecessary inclines.

Back in my room, I quickly unload images from camera card to flip flop. Want to do a bit of snapping tonight. I’ve a dinner date. With Brian Hunt. I couldn’t visit the Bay Area without seeing him. A cool bloke and talented brewer. As today has proved.

The traffic has him running a bit late. I don’t mind. The evening air is cool outside the hotel. And my mind can freewheel with no obligations other than having a good time.

Brian is as bearded, opinionated and fun as ever. We bumble back Haight-wards in his van. This time the venue is that Magnolia.

A very nice young lady gives us a tour of the brewery in the cellar. It’s pretty cramped, as you’d expect.

As I noticed yesterday, Magnolia is big on cask. Thinking about it, most of the places I’ve been to in the US in the last year or so have been. But perhaps that’s self-selecting. Brewers of English-style cask Ales are more likely to get in touch with me.

We sink a few pints, eat and chat. Mostly the latter, as I’m trying to keep my belly from resembling a hippo’s. And Brian has to drive home.

I pick up another couple of Racer 5s as a nightcap. To wash down my eye-closer Laphroaig. Sleep rushes towards me like a runaway train full of drunken soldiers.

Tomorrow I’ve an event with home brewers. Should be able to shift some books there, shouldn’t I?

547 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States
Open  11:30 am – 2:00 am

Magnolia Brewery
1398 Haight St,
San Francisco, CA 94117