Our homebrew club, Pacific Gravity, was named Anchor Brewery’s “2011 California’s Homebrew Club of the Year.” The last time this award was presented to us was in 2006, so it seemed appropriate that we make a special trip up the Anchor Brewery in San Francisco to attend the award ceremony. Coincidentally, it was also Mike’s birthday, which made it all the more necessary for us to celebrate. We, John, Mike, Matt, and I, started the long drive up to San Fransisco on Friday morning with the intention of making a few brewery pit stops on the way.
Our first destination was Uncommon Brewers in Santa Cruz where we convenientlyinterrupted their canning process. Alec was nice enough to let us hang back while they finished up and then give us an impromptu tasting, tour, and Q & A. Right off the bat, I was not only a fan of the beer, but the message behind the beer. Alec does everything Organic while also trying to push the envelope on strange and “uncommon” brews. They offer several uniquely spice beers, a nonalcoholic beer, and they even have a beer made with bacon! They use recyclable key kegs and also bottle everything in 16 oz cans. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find Uncommon Brewers’ beer in Los Angeles, but you can find it from time to time at places like City Tavern, Beer Belly, and other LA area craft beer bars.
Our next stop was Devil’s Canyon Brewing Co which we caught at a bad time. They were prepping for a San Francisco beer week party scheduled for that night, so they weren’t serving any beers. We did get a chance to talk to Adam Atkinson, the Facilities Coordinator / Contract Manufacturing Liaison for devils canyon. He told us that they were prepping for a contract brewers’ party where many of their existing contract brewers would be serving their beer. Contract brewing is a big part of Devil’s Canyon Brewing Co. so this seems like a sort of a thank you celebration for the clientele. We’ll have to take another trip up when Devil’s Canyon is open so we can taste some of the beer.
We arrived in the city of San Francisco in the late afternoon and checked into the Hotel Carlton with the rest of the Pacific Gravity members. Once we got into our rooms we held our own small beer tasting with the latest brews we had brought up. I brought back some really good coffee from my Aunt’s coffee business in Seattle during my last trip up there, and so we all made different beer styles using it as a flavor addition. Matt made a dunkel, John made a Kolsch, and I brought back, by popular request, The Buttress of Windsor – the Coffee Rye Porter. In addition to those beers, we tried Mike’s berry mead and Bourbon Bomb, his first bourbon barrel aged beer. It’s an intensely awesome beer. Needless to say, the alcohol content in Mike’s beers alone was enough to get us warmed up for the night. We headed to my favorite Chinese place – House of Nan King. If you haven’t been there before you should definitely try it. It’s one of those places where they ask if you want to order or if you want them to order for you. We chose the latter and were quickly met with plate after plate of delicious Chinese food. After our meal we hit up local beer bar Church Key where we sampled some bay area beer, and Mike bought us a round of Sink the Bismark – two 1 oz torpedo tulip tasters of this rich and complex 41% beer made for a really cool tasting.
We headed back to the hotel to pick up Brett, and then we were off to meet some of Matt’s friends at a local pub called Toronado. This cash only beer bar was flooded with people. I’m not sure if it was just because of SF Beer week or if it’s always like this, but it was really difficult to navigate through the place – especially with a full beer. I would definitely come back again for the beer selection, but the clientele and general congestion of the place would make me think twice. Waiting in line for a beer can take you 15-30 minutes and by the time you make it back to your friends they need a refill too so it’s hard to talk to any one person. It reminded me a little of Lucky Baldwin’s in Pasadena on an extremely busy night.
*Check out next week’s article to see the Anchor Steam Event.
– Kip B.
Los Angeles Ale Works™