Wednesday, October 10, 2012


When word started getting around San Francisco that craft beer hotspot The Monk's Kettle were going to open up a new restaurant dedicated to pairing exceptional food with exceptional beer, the people - my people - got excited. Took 'em a while to get the Mission District spot up and running in a former auto-repair garage, but it's here now, and as I understand it, business is "brisk". I'm happy about that. As I told my pal Geoff, who accompanied me here on my maiden voyage into THE ABBOT'S CELLAR, we may be experiencing "peak beer" right now, and we'd better enjoy it while it's still around. Of course, this could be just the beginning, and wouldn't that be great? Yet given the lifecycle of various food/drink–related fads, I have to wonder at times if this just happens to be beer's moment in the United States. Like the dotcom heyday, which reached some of its craziest excesses in the very same Mission District section that this restaurant/bar is located in, we may also be in a "look back and laugh" situation as well. I'm laughing with joy right about now, though.

The restaurant is very cool-looking and trĂ© moderne. Geoff ordered this pasta dish with seasonal greens that smelled amazing and which he said was manna from the godz. Me, I just did some drinkin'. THE ABBOT'S CELLAR is a "bank account be damned" sort of place – beers are pricey and high-end; not beyond the pale, mind you, but generally running in the $6-$12 range per beer. These aren't imperial pints we're talking about, either. I'm cool with that. You're paying for some ambiance and for the ability of these guys to haul in some special beers. Here are the ones that I tried:

ST. BERNARDUS - "TOKYO" - This is a malty wheat ale brewed in February of this year by this legendary Belgian brewer for a beer bar in Tokyo, a total one-off. The Abbot's Cellar guy told us about it in hushed, reverent tones. He knew it was pretty special that they'd received a keg of this one. I loved it. It's a simple, fruit-forward witbier, and only 6% ABV. Smooth, and a little acidic, and as delicious as you'd expect from one of the masters. 8.5/10.

SIERRA NEVADA - "SIDECAR" - A dry amber ale, served on cask. I've said it before; Sierra Nevada's "off-menu" beers are often some of their very best. They're experimenting with dozens of styles and recipes up there in Chico, and what could have been fairly boring was actually supremely pleasing. Really dry, really malty and incredibly drinkable. 8/10.

NEW BELGIUM - "RED HOPTOBER" - Even this one was pretty all right. It's a carbonated amber ale with lots of flavor that comes together in a second-tier manner. It's their Fall seasonal ale, much hoppier than Sierra Nevada's red ale, and solid up and down the glass. 7/10.

2 comments: said...

that place sounds legit. I went to Amsterdam Cafe this weekend in SF, $16.00 bottles of Cantillon Kriek, I was dropping mad stacks on Loonz.

Mark said...

I loved Tokyo and was glad that I was able to wrangle a bottle of the stuff, even if it was a bit on the pricey side. Still, for a 6% wheat focused beer, it packed quite a punch...