Just this past weekend I treated myself to a craft beer walking tour in San Francisco. It was located in their Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, and I’ll start things out by saying I approve! It was about 4 hours and took us to 3 different microbreweries, all within walking distance of each other. It’s a little more upscale than a standard bar crawl where you and your buddies just tell each bartender to hit you with their best shot on your way to route blackout, and a little less elegant than booking a limo and taking a fancy wine tasting tour. It falls right in the middle, a nice small group of people who are mostly there because they all want to taste some good craft beer, and learn about the history of one of San Fran’s finest areas.
I was very pleased with the staff/tour guides on this trip. They didn’t bore us with useless information and keep us waiting outside the bar til they finished their spiel. They would talk and describe things to us briefly on each walk because let’s face it, once we were standing outside the actual bar there’s no more keeping our attention. We want in! At each bar, we would receive brief history lessons about how the bar began and its contributions. My favorite part was the backstory that you get after each beer you order. The staff had great knowledge and sometimes cool little stories about each brew my friends and I slurped on.
We met some great people along the way too. About midway into your 2nd bar experience the booze will start to loosen everyone up and allow for more real conversation and less awkward small talk. Little side story about small talk, I always try to test people that I just meet to see if they actually are paying attention to what I’m saying or are just giving the standard nice small talk replies. Ya know, the “Yeah man, oh okay I know where that’s at!” type deals I get when I tell people I’m from Sunnydale, California are hysterical. Or when I stand there at 6’5″ 250 pounds and tell people that my name is Jennifer. You’d be amazed at how many people don’t question it. Okay sorry guys, I’m doing what I always do and getting off track. BEER! Alright, we’re back.
So yeah, by the time were finishing up at our third bar we had made buddies with another group and decide that we didn’t want to waste this little buzz we had going. If you’ve ever been to San Francisco, one thing you can be sure of is you’ll never have problems finding more bars. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and continued our little tour, which admittedly turned into a slop-fest with me waking up pants down in a bathroom stall, which is actually somewhat of a tame result for me. Let’s not lose sight at the moral of this story though, get your butt up and go on some booze tours folks. For the first time in my life I understand what all those posters in elementary school meant when they said “Learning can be fun!” They just need to put an asterisk at the bottom that says “*When beer is involved.”
Until next time my beer buds! Cheers!
That’s right, for those of you that haven’t left the house in a few years, they have cookie flavored beer. I love sipping on these beauts in the winter time. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “You’re from California, what do you know about winter beer?” True, I may not be an expert in this area, but I do spend some time out in Colorado at my buddies place. He has a gorgeous spot in the mountains, and sitting on his back patio staring at the view he has introduced me to some pretty stellar winter brews.
When you’re in this type of environment, looking over frosted woodlands and snow capped rocky mountains, you don’t really get the urge for a Summer Shandy. Instead, you want something spiced and dark. Something that almost psychologically warms you up, like a good Gingerbread Stout. The beer is ice cold of course, but the thought of warm gingerbread cookies is on your mind. Maybe I’m the only geek that feels this way.
Another great one is New Belgium Ben and Jerry’s chocolate chip cookie dough ale. Yes, you read that correctly. If you’re a winner at life, you’re thinking, “Wow, this is the best thing that could ever happen.” If you’re not a winner (loser) then you’re thinking, “Uh wait, doesn’t that have raw eggs in it?” No, at least I don’t think so or care if it does. Get over your fear of salmonella and make sure to pick up one or thirty of these. I understand, there are some companies that try and make outrageous combinations like bacon flavored vodka or banana apples and have failed miserably, but this beer nailed it. While we’re on the subject, pineapple does not belong on pizza. Pineapple actually doesn’t belong anywhere except the garbage. OK back to beer!
Now, if you got your socks blown off by the cookie dough beer, be prepared to change your pants for this next one. There’s a brewery out in San Francisco that has created girl scout cookie flavored beers. Do you know what that means? Thin Mint Cookie Beer! Thin Mint Cookies are not only oddly delicious, but they freshen your breath at the same time. Now you’re going to make that into a beer? We’ve got the trifecta. The company that makes this beer is Ceveceria de MateVeza if you wanted to check these out. Also a popular girl scout cookie flavor is Do Si Dos peanut butter cream ale. Because peanut butter is great with everything besides jelly. I hate jelly.
There ya have it folks. You would probably never drink a beer with your cookie, but having your cookies in your beer is a completely different story.
For my first post, I got to give a shout out to my home town of San Rafael! I’m going to give you guys my top 5 spots that I like to go around San Rafael when I need myself a refreshing ale or lager! I’ll put numbers next to them for aesthetic reasons, but these really don’t have any particular order! I like them all too much, no need to make for strife when you can enjoy them all!
- State Room Brewery- Definitely one of my favorite places for both food and booze! This is not just same fried up bar food, they have a delicious menu including pizza! Pizza and beer, what’s better?! One of my favorite drinks to order from here is called the Dubbel Jeopardy. Yes, I know how to spell double correctly, it is spelt Dubbel because of it’s bubble gum flavoring! Now, it is not an overwhelming flavor, just a nice little hint. This is a dark ale, creamy textured, and did I mention delicious?
- Iron Springs- This pub is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for local brews. They pride themselves on buying local as much as possible and they certainly pull through on their promise. They have a huge variety, different ales and lagers for everyone’s taste. You really can’t go wrong, if I were to suggest one of my favorites, it would be the Casey Jones Imperial IPA, brewed by Iron Springs themselves!
- Mill Valley Beerworks- First things first, go during their brunch time, it’s awesome. Second, order a beer with brunch, whoever says it’s too early needs to stop being so negative. This is a small brewery/restaurant that delivers big time. Some of my favorite drafts from here include the Animal, which is perfect if you like a strong aromatic IPA, and the Old Speckled Hen which is a malt with a nice toffee note.
- East Brother Beer Co. You can find this sweet spot in Richmond, CA. Really neat place to go and yes, they make their own beer! Their Oatmeal Stout can be put up against the best of them. It has a milk chocolate taste to it and gah! My mouth is watering just thinking about it honestly. Very well run establishment too, you really get a sense that these people know about high quality beer and love what they do.
- Benoit-Casper Brewing- Last, but not least since these aren’t in order! This one is also located in Richmond, maybe the rivals of East Brother, I don’t know they probably get along. Anyways… Yeah Benoit-Casper is another awesome establishment and a true brewery. My advice, go their between March and September and get their taste of Oktoberfest, the Amber Lager. Lord have mercy, these guys killed it on this one. Only brewed 6 months out of the year because well, it’s too much of a delight to be served year round in my opinion! Oh, and I believe it is pronounced “Ben-Wha”?
And there you have it! For whatever my opinion is worth, these are my top 5 favorites around California! I encourage you to check these out if you live around here or are ever in the area. Until next time guys, Cheers!!!
What’s up guys! Welcome to my new site, San Rafael Ales! I’ll be posting some new content tomorrow, looking forward to getting started!