Now I will go back in time to my MLK weekend in SF. Besides stuffing my face with burritos and falafel, and spending several hours at the Amoeba bargain bin, guess what I was doing there. No, wiseasses, not cruising the Castro for mustachioed men in assless chaps. I was drinking beer. While this trip had no real beer agenda, I did do some “research.” The highlights:
The Monk’s Kettle: My feelings on this place are still mixed. The food is decent and it’s an okay place to drink a few when it’s not crowded. Waiting for friends, I had a Moonlight Reality Czeck and Russian River Aud Blonde, good choices to start a long day of beer drinking. The problem with MK is that it’s almost always packed and some of the beer prices seem out of control (even taking into account how much it costs to run the place). $7.25 for a pint of Pliny the Elder? Or, even crazier, $11.25 for a 16.9 oz. bottle of Blind Pig? You can walk 15 minutes and have a Pliny at Toronado for $4.50 and find bottles of Blind Pig at Whole Foods & City Beer for under $5.
La Trappe: It was a stupid idea to come here for dinner late on Saturday night. It was a madhouse, crawling with the kind of people you’d expect in North Beach after 10 pm on a weekend night. Seriously, the din was so loud that my friends and I couldn’t carry on a conversation. And, during the rush, the food wasn’t up to par. In the end, one big positive outweighed all the negatives: Russian River Sanctification on tap. It was as impressive as I’d heard, one of the tastiest sour beers I’ve had.
City Beer: I spent some time talking with owner Craig Wathen and having a Telegraph Brewing Porter on tap and a bottle of Drake’s IPA. Somehow, it was my first time having the Drake’s. It leans toward the English-style with malt being more prominent than most West Coast IPAs. It was good, but when Firestone Walker Union Jack and Green Flash West Coast IPA were staring at me from the cooler, my first-time meeting with Drake’s was over.
Magnolia: I appreciated Magnolia more on this trip. How can you not love a place with five impressive beer engines (pictured above) pouring fresh, sessionable cask beers (including mild, bitter and stout)? I wish I could’ve spent all day here, but I only had time for a quick visit. As I arrived, they had just tapped a keg of their X – Belgian Abbey Single. While I waited for it to be pour-ready, they gave me a generous sample of the Proving Ground IPA on the house. It was delicious, as was the X, which was light but flavorful for a 4.7% beer.
I also had a bunch of Racer 5, Big Daddy IPA and Anchor Steam at the Kilowatt, Dovre Club and Barclay’s during my trip (my visit to Barclay’s was disappointing because they were tapping four Mt. Shasta beers half an hour after I had to head to the airport). Believe it or not, I didn’t make it to Toronado because it was too packed to brave the crowds. I wisely moved along without torturing myself with a look at the tap list. Don’t worry…I’m headed back for SF Beer Week in two weeks.