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Thoughts on Beer & Food, Home & Away

Whirlwind SF Trip Recap
Posted Sunday, May 13th, 2012 by thewimperoo


Photos and rambling recap of my 6 days in the Bay Area


Day 1 in SF (Sunday)

Snuck out of the conference schmoozing event and hit up ChurchKey.  A real chill place, that had a decent tap list.  They had just done a Heretic event so most of their taps were taken over by them.  The red and DIPA were pretty good, porter not bad.  Stellar, the bartender, was punk rock, pink hair, tats and piercings.  Really cool.  A bunch of drunk ass regulars.  Nice introduction to the SF bar scene.


Day 2 (Monday)

Had the conference all day and then an event at night, but afterwards I grabbed a cab to Toronado.  Not too busy, was able to easily grab a seat at the bar.  Started out with a Blind Pig.  Gruff, but competent service from the bartender.  Worked my way to a Bombay by Boat on cask.  Wanting something sour, but still working my way to asking for Cable Car, I ordered a Jacobins Rouge.  Finished the short pour in no time.  Asked for a Cable Car, but was quickly rejected.  Finished out the night with a High Water Hop Riot, really enjoyed that beer.   


Day 3 (Tuesday)

Conference got done around 2, made my way to my new hotel, checked in and then armed with my camera, I hoofed it to get some lunch.  Fatted Calf was the spot.  Awesome butcher shop, just made me wish I had a kitchen there and could cook all night long.  Lamb sandwich was long gone by the time I arrived, so I had to decide between the Pulled Pork and Meatball.  Rolled with the Pulled Pork.  Delicious and filling.



After lunch, I had about 3 hours to kill until I needed to meet my wife at the airport.  Due to its proximity to the BART, I walked to Monk’s Kettle.  A tiny spot with a bunch of taps and a wall of glassware.  I knew this would be good.  Started off with a Sculpin. Worked my way through their Moonlight beers…Reality Czeck, Death & Taxes and Misspent Youth. Checked the vintage list hoping they’d still have bottles of batch 2 Beatification, but woe is me it listed no such thing. Next choice was a Reef Rye from Ballast Point, a brown ale with rye, never heard of it before but it was solid. Pliny keg blew and it was replaced with Happy Hops.  It was an awesome way to end the drinking session.  Really enjoyed my time at Monk’s Kettle.  Prices were a bit high compared to the other spots I hit up, but the service and proper glassware pours made up for it imo.



Bewbs and she wasn’t afraid to show them off


After getting the wife safely to the hotel, we headed out to dinner at Zero Zero.  Heard really good things about the pizza here so we had high expectations.


Before the pizza, we looked over the small plates for a precursor.  Pork belly and poached egg rarely steers me wrong, so that was the choice.


Money Shot


Fillmore Pizza - Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Leeks, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Pecorino, Fontina, Garlic, Thyme


Food was excellent and stood up to the tall expectations.  And with that it was bedtime as we had a long day of eating and drinking to come.  



Day 4 in SF (Wednesday)

The day started off by waking up early and catching the bus down to Dynamo Donuts for breakfast.  The selection was diverse, and difficult to narrow down.


Decided on 4

Apricot Cardamom

Strawberry Earl Grey

Maple Glazed Apple Bacon

Sticky Bun


If I had to rank the 4 donuts, I’d say: Strawberry Earl Gray, Sticky Bun, Maple Glazed Apple Bacon and Apricot Cardamom.  The Strawberry Earl Gray was most excellent, loved the combination of flavors as well as the more cake-like texture of the donut.  


Full of donuts we public trans’d our way up to Golden Gate Park to wander around until the California Academy of Sciences opened up.  


Great scenery


Old Asians doing yoga, tai chi, whatever


Time to get our knowledge on


Greeted by some dino bones


A lot of good animal exhibits…albino alligator, turtle, penguins, sting rays, lots of fish


Planetarium was real cool, and the living rain forest was also nice.  It was a good place to spend a few hours.  After walking around the museum it was time to get some lunch and Alembic was the spot.


Beer list was a little lacking on this day as they had a bunch of empty taps at the time, but the Almanac was calling my name.


Food menu mainly consists of snacks and small plates for sharing.  We decided on a few dishes and they were all delicious.

Shishito peppers with house smoked salt

Pork Belly Slider with kimchee

Baby Back ribs, smoked maple glaze, celery root-apple slaw, pickled jalapeno


With the beer selection lacking, but an insane amount of spirits, I asked for the bartender to make me a drink of his choosing.  He made me an excellent version of a sazarac



Sated and happy it was time to move on.  Just continued walking down Haight to Magnolia.


Magnolia was a nice spot, lot of beer on tap, relaxed vibe for some afternoon day drinking.  


Started off with a Cole Porter on cask.  Nice


Proving Ground IPA was next.  Solid West Coast IPA


Last beer was a gruit.  Never had one before so I figured I had to try it.  It was interesting and tasty.


After chilling at Magnolia for a few hours, we walked to Nopa for dinner.  Bar seating for walk-ins was the only way we were getting in so we arrived right as they opened.  Prime seats at the end of the bar right next to the kitchen was better than sitting in the dining area anyways.


Rotisserie chickens were very tempting, but alas we passed

Cute bartender making drinks


First course: Fried asparagus with garlic aioli


Second course:  Goat cheese bread pudding with pickled beets


Third course: Roasted cauliflower, kalamata olives and blood oranges


Fourth course: Burger w/ Aged Cheddar, Bacon, Pickled Onions and Chipotle Aioli


Fifth course: Grilled Pork Chop, Roasted Carrots, Snap Peas and Watercress


An absolutely phenomenal meal.  Every dish was great.  I couldn’t recommend this place more.  Would love to go back and eat all of the other dishes that we missed.


Completely full it was time to make a return effort to Toronado and give the Cable Car one more shot.


Long story shot, fail boat express on the Cable Car, but still another good night of drinking some good beers on tap.  Around 9, the wife gave the look that we all know, so it was time to call it a night and head back to the hotel.  



Day 5 in SF (Thursday)

The day started off with a walk to Dottie’s True Blue Café for breakfast.  It’s not in the best area of San Francisco, but it made for some nice people watching at 7 in the morning while we waited for Dottie’s to open.  Crack heads hanging out on the corner, pimps and hoes walking down the street…good times.  Anyways on to the food.


A vast menu with lot of choices in addition to a specials board with fresh baked good made for tough choices, but I managed.

Pulled Pork, Roasted Onion and Jack Cheese Scramble with Home Fries


Fresh baked Buttermilk Dill Toast that was a really great flavor combination


Wife went boring and just rolled with pancakes, although the added cinnamon and ginger in the batter did add a nice hit of flavor


After breakfast we made our way to the rental car spot.  Ended up with a Yaris, which got the job done for $15 a day.  Hit the road north, drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, and were in Santa Rosa by the time Russian River opened at 11.  


Orange signs on the door nearly gave me a heart attack, but thankfully it was just to say that only the kitchen was closed on that day not the whole place.  Crisis averted.  Time to get down.  First things first was assessing the Beatification situation.  They only had a few bottles remaining when I first arrived, so I said give them all to me.


However, a little bit later the reserve supply arrived from the brewery, so a case was available for purchase.


With that bit of business taken care of it was time get the drink on.  Checked out the selection available for drinking


Pub only beers seemed like the smart thing to do

Russian River IPA to start


Nice coaster to mark your territory


Moved onto the Russian River Porter. This was excellent


Enough waiting around, let’s get to the Beat


And to round it out, a Supplication



In addition to the great beer, the brewpub is a pretty cool place to hang.  Sure there’s some out of towners like we were on this day, 3 other people from Chicago were also visiting while we were there, but the place really is a spot for Something I love when it comes to a drinking establishment.  Kitschy memorabilia gave it a real homey feel.


Really wanted to get this shirt for P, but they didn’t have any big enough  :(


In addition to great beer, also Jew friendly  :lol:



Hungry, we decided to call it an afternoon at Russian River and head back down towards Petaluma to enjoy Lagunitas. Quick pit stop at In-n-Out burger for food.  Figured we had to do it since neither of us had partaken before.  Double Double animal style with fries.  Burger was in the upper tier of fast food, but really nothing I need to eat again.  Fries were turrible.  I thought you couldn’t go wrong with fresh cut, but these proved me wrong.  Not double frying was the problem.  


Ready to partake in some more drinking, we arrived at Lagunitas around 3.


In addition to the tap room, they have an awesome outdoor beer garden.  Covered by a clear roof to keep the rain out, but let light in.  Could see spending many a days here if I lived nearby


Walking into the tap room, we were greeted by this sight.  Even the wife said it needed to be documented 


Beer list, lots of interesting choices


Decided on a taster, awesome value at $5.50

The BA Gnarlywine and Waldo were great, BA Imperial Stout was quite good, while the Gueuze was not that good.


Some pics of the scene


Had to get a full glass of the Waldo since it was so good


Also partook in a hand pull of the Lucky 13.alt


5 o’clock rolled around and we decided to jump into the tour.  Cute girl leading and all, why not.  Turns out she’s from the Chicagoland area, so she might move back to work at the new brewery.  


Very much under construction as you would imagine, but we were still given pretty good access to all areas of the brewery, so it was nice to explore and take some pics.


You can see some barrels hiding back there


Full set of pics from Lagunitas: http://"


All in all a really cool place, maybe my favorite of the entire trip.  I’d love to live nearby and hang out in that beer garden on a regular basis.


Left Lagunitas, drove back up to Santa Rosa to check into our hotel and decide what we wanted to do for dinner.  After some menu consultations, the wife agreed to Flavor Bistro as the spot.  Excited about this as I had heard plenty of good things about the place.


The Official Unofficial home of Moonlight beer, had to get a Misspent Youth


Wife went with the Duck Ravioli with Gorgonzola-Walnut Sauce.  The few bites I could swipe, were delicious


I ordered the Beef Short Ribs with Butternut Risotto.  Whoa flavor in the short ribs, risotto was “on point” as a d-bag from Santa Rosa once said.


Would recommend as a great eatery.


Since the night was still young, we decided to swing back to Russian River for a sample tray.  Unfortunately, 2 taps short of a full boat


Thought about another Beatification, but it was late so I passed.  Good judgment, maybe.


Day 6 in SF (Friday)

Not much in the way of beer happenings on this final day.  So if you're only here for the beer, you can stop now.  
Early breakfast in Santa Rosa at Dierk's Parkside Cafe, so that we could get back to SF in reasonable time.
Despite the lowly diner look, the menu was full of more uspcale offerings
Fry Bread to share
Duck Confit with Hash Browns, Scrambled Eggs and Warm Apples
Breakfast Burrito filled with Grilled Chicken, Cheddar Cheese, Black Beans and Red Rice.  Topped with fresh salsa
The duck confit was awesome.  Right up there with the confit hash at Marigold Kitchen in Madison.  Really enjoyed the food here, definitely a good spot to hit for breakfast.
Looking to do a little bit of photoing, we stopped at the Marin Headlands on the way back down.  Just an absolutely gorgeous place.  Lots of great views of the ocean, hills and Golden Gate Bridge.  Got some ok shots, probably would have benefitted from a UV filter, as the haze washed out a lot of the color of the bridge even though it was only about 9 in the morning.  
After taking in all of the natural beauty, we took care of some more boring tasks like boxing up the Russian River haul, dropping off at Fedex and returning the rental car.  During that time we did make a quick stop at City Beer Store. Wasn't able to sit down and partake in the bar section, but the to-go store had some decent choices.  Wish bottles of Framboise for the Cure would have been available, but thems the breaks sometimes.
Once the rental car was returned and we checked back into our hotel in SF, we made our way to AT&T park for a Giants game.  Heard good things about the Public House connected to the park.  We arrived a couple of hours before the game and it was already a madhouse so there was nowhere to sit.  The tap selection was pretty solid and nicely priced. I had an Old Rasputin on Nitro.  We ate some tacos from the Mexican restaurant connected to the Public House.  Pretty mediocre and expensive.  
Pics of the stadium
Game was decent.  Linecum kind of sucked for the first couple of innings.  Giants lost, but fans in our section didn't seem to care to much about the game anyways.  
This brought an effective end to our trip.  We caught our flight home the next morning.  Could have used another week to hit all of the beer spots and food spots in the area, but I guess that will have to be for next time.  
Thanks for reading if you actually made it this far.