Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ducks in the Bay by Greg Gearing - Guest Blogger!

Greg's on a boat!
I am very honored to welcome Greg Gearing as Beer Guy PDX's very first GUEST BLOGGER!

Greg is the consummate beer guy, himself. A Portland native who recently returned to the area from Texas, he knows his way around a pint glass. I met Greg at the very first bottle share event I attended in Portland. He works long hours as a health care professional, but he is as passionate about craft beer as he is about his career. (Ladies, he is single.)

Greg is a big Oregon Ducks fan (Go, Ducks!) and his fanaticism recently took him on a trip to the Bay Area. San Francisco is considered by many to be the cradle of American craft beer, and it is certainly a respectable beercation destination.

If you are planning a trip to San Francisco, like I am, you'll be happy to see that Greg has done quite a lot of the preliminary legwork for us. Thanks, Greg!

Ducks by the Bay

As part of a pilgrimage for the Oregon @ Stanford game earlier this month, I spent 4 nights in the Bay Area with the intent to drink a lot of beer. The majority of my time was spent in the downtown SF area, specifically right around the Market Street BART stop. San Francisco (and the Bay Area) is quite large, so my review is only but a small slice of what is possible!

Mikkeller Bar:
34 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Taplist as long as your arm.
Mikkeller Bar is a new establishment which was opened this summer by the Danish gypsy brewer duo. The bar was massive and gorgeous, with elegant "European Style" taps, numbering 44. An example of their beer selection can be seen in the picture below. The prices are high, but that is to be expected for SF, and most of their beer is imported. The service was stellar every time I was here. The food looked good, though I never tried it. Mikkeller Bar is the beer destination for downtown SF and what they offer is currently unmatched by Portland.

City Beer Store: 
1168 Folsom St #101, San Francisco, CA 94103

Part of the gentrifying neighborhood of South of Market, City Beer Store is a tasting room and bottle shop that has a lot in common with the Portland destination of Belmont Station. There were 8 taps that seemed to focus on regional specialties. A new concept to me was an exclusive fridge devoted to on-site only bottle consumption. This fridge had a very good selection of rare and aged beers, including some from Deschutes and Logsdon. The owner, who also was the bartender, is a total beer nerd and is extremely passionate about his love for beer. I'd like to see other bottle shops in Portland copy the rare/exclusive bottle collection idea.

Cellarmaker Brewing: 
1150 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Cellarmaker is a hole-in-the-wall, all new brewery that opened only a month or two ago. There is a dearth of actual breweries in San Francisco proper, and Cellarmaker hopes to buck that trend. Brewed and served on site in the South of Market neighborhood, Cellarmaker focuses on both hoppy beers and funky beers. The owner, who sported impressive sideburns and a mullet tail, apologized to me because everything on tap was in the session range. According to the website, that problem has already been fixed!

What's pouring?

Deli Board: 
1058 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Only one big block away from both City Beer Store and Cellarmaker, this is where you go to eat. You are able to bring your food into Cellarmaker; I think this is also true for City Beer Store, but I'm not certain. Limited hours (11AM-4PM), so this is exclusively for daytime drinking.
Lots of beer on that list.

Church Key:

no website 
1402 Grant Ave San Francisco, CA 94133

Way up north, almost by the Fisherman's Wharf, is Church Key. Claustrophobic and eclectic, Church Key is one of the original SF beer bars. I wasn't all too impressed with the establishment, though I don't know why. The tap selection was varied and quality, the place was even divier than Roscoe's, and my bartender was awesome. Also in this neighborhood is a place called "La Trappe", which I was unable to visit, though was recommended to me by multiple locals.

21st Amendment: 
563 2nd St, San Francisco, CA

Just a stone's throw away from AT&T Park, 21st Amendment is the quintessential modern day San Francisco brewery. They have a full service bar and restaurant that includes an open kitchen and upper floor alcove seating, perfect for sports watching. Their tap selection is all their own stuff, with about half of it being their grocery store selection, and more expensive too! The food is great and service is good. 21st Amendment is an all-around great package, though from a beer perspective, it is just a little bit underwhelming.

The Rose and Crown English Pub & Restaurant:
547 Emerson Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301

The Rose is pretty much the only place for craft beer in Palo Alto. The closest comparison would be "Horse Brass Light", with emphasis on the light. If you're in Palo Alto, certainly stop here. It's a great location that is less than one block off of University Ave. However, do not go out of your way to Palo Alto for beer.


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