Thursday, April 4, 2013

A TRIP TO ST. VINCENT RESTAURANT – FOR BEER

In San Francisco, right across from the best taqueria on the planet, Papalote, sits a new-ish, upscale-ish restaurant called ST. VINCENT. I can't tell you a whole lot about the food there, but it sure smells good. The BEER, though, is outstanding. The place has been set up to encourage patrons to show up and just drink beer (or wine) if they want to, with a decent-sized bar and one long table for communal drinking. The fella behind the beer program here, Sayre Piotrkowski, is even a certified cicerone. As I understand it, there ain't too many people toting the beer equivalent of "sommelier" around, so hats off to 'im. I got to tip back a few there the other night for my second time and even shook hands and slapped backs with Mr. Piotrkowski himself.

ST. VINCENT is certainly designed to accentuate the credibility of beer as a beverage. Hand-picked selections from across the craft spectrum and from beer regions like Belgium, Germany and the far corners of the US; some great local-only taps that might actually just be available here; some rare bottles; perfect glassware; perfect mood-setting lighting; helpful staff etc. It's not a "beer bar" per se, but you can certainly pretend that it is and get away with it. Each of the two times I've been here I've ordered some wacky stuff, most of it from local breweries.

This last time I got to try a "Late For Work" by MARIN BREWING, a local heavyweight who don't always quite get their due. Their IPAs and pale ales have traditionally been your ticket to happiness, and this one's a Belgian-style pale ale. Descriptions online call it a "Belgian table beer with brettanomyces", and that's about right. Very approachable, for an "infected" beer, with just a touch of funkiness and soap – but really more akin to an interesting pale ale. Requisite hops etc. are all there. I give it a very respectful 7.5/10. I also had my second-in-a-row excellent beer from Oakland's LINDEN STREET BREWERY; this one was called "Whiskey Resistor" - a barrel-aged "double steam ale". Yeah!! Now we've doubled and imperial-ized just about every style, haven't we? As Sayre pointed out, it really tastes more like a doppelbock, sweet and thick and full of flavor. I loved it. 8.5/10.

Get St. Vincent on your agenda if you're coming to town. In fact, if you're ever coming to San Francisco, now only should you wear flowers in your hair – we all do – but shoot me a line and I'll give you the good word on where to drink, OK?

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