Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Biggest news in a coon’s age in San Francisco is the refurbishment of CITY BEER STORE. My favorite beer establishment – and the original beer-only store around these parts – is now more than double its previous size. This is a good thing, because curmudgeonly Jay H was getting mighty cramped in the old City Beer, not to mention frustrated by lines out the door on event nights – most of which I skipped due to fear of (gasp) missing out on a new release, despite having had the gumption to head down there for the night. So instead of five taps, there are now 15. Instead of 7- or 8-ounce pours, almost everything is 10-12 ounces (in the proper glassware, of course). Your elbows can extend without grazing another human being, as long as you’re not milling over by the coolers full of $20 bottles with your tongue hanging out. I’m so into it I went there thrice in just the past two weeks alone.

Naturally, with 15 quickly-rotating taps, any night at City Beer is going to be full ‘o surprises. Here are short reviews of things I imbibed at this establishment the past couple of weeks, with the obligatory consumer’s guide rating for each:

THE BRUERY – “AUTUMN MAPLE” – Oh dear lord. How did this beer, already fantastic, get so much better this year? Moreover, I’ve noticed that it’s now semi-affordable, going from a wallet-busting $12-and-up per bottle to something closer to $7.99 for a 22-ouncer. Anyway, this was on draft (pictured above) and was fantastic cold. Not frost-brewed Coors Light cold, but colder than most beers I have at home – and I loved it. Incredibly flavorful, less about “maple” and yams than it is pumpkin pie and drinkability. A must-try before it dries up and blows away again. 9.5/10.

SIERRA NEVADA – “ESTATE HOMEGROWN WET HOP ALE” – This IPA tastes super wet and super fresh, a cut well above most india pales. Smooth bodied, excellently balanced, strong citrus on both the front and the aftertaste, and “only” 6.3% alcohol. 8/10.

JOLLY PUMPKIN – “CALABAZA BLANCA” – I’ve seen this one around for a long while but never pulled for it until now. It’s a witbier that’s lightly sour, and more saison-like than I expected. Dry, with lots of fruit and a super-heavy dose of carbonation. Supremely enjoyable, and a nice redeemer from a brewery I’ve long found to be somewhat overrated. 8/10.

DOGFISH HEAD – “SAH 'TEA” – A tea and juniper ale! And yeah, you can really taste the tea. Is that a bad thing? Not one bit. Sahti has a tingly, yeasty sensation across the tongue, and is very aromatic and herbal. It’s a cloudy, carbonated ale with a ton of tang in the aftertaste. Lemon. I’m getting lemon. A great experiment and something I’d definitely try again. 7.5/10.

MIDNIGHT SUN – “MAMMOTH EXTRA STOUT” – Not a smooth beer by any means – chalky and strong, and more bitter than your typical stout. Yet these Alaskans still delivered something quite enjoyable at the end of the proverbial day. Like just about every beer I’ve had from them, it rates a respectable 7/10 and nothing more.

DE DOLLE – “BOS KEUN” – The only Belgian to pass my lips during these visits was this one from DE DOLLE, legendary makers of OERBIER and ARABIER. Bos Kuen is a funky Belgian golden ale with 8.9% of its contents devoted to alcohol. A strange taste to be sure – a little more medicine than I felt like taking. Sweet, thin-bodied and lots of flavor, but not a flavor I was particularly interested in. There’s a market for this, just not in my house. 6.5/10.

No comments: