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Birthday of Joe: 31

By Jasmine · March 15th, 2009 · No Comments

In honor of Joe’s 31st birthday, we decided to chow down on huge amounts of Chinese food with friends, and then do a mini-beer-tour of North Beach–starting with the SF Brewing Company. We’ve never been here before, even though it’s in our neighborhood. We’ve had their beer at events though, and it’s usually decent, with occasional really great standouts.

The reason we’ve never been is that it’s just not inviting. I’m pretty sure we’ve stood in the doorway several times, debating going in, and always decided to go somewhere else. The bar inside is pretty cool and old-fashioned, but the lighting in dingy, the bar is often messy, and the whole place feels cold and awkward. This time we pushed through to the moldy-smelling back room, where one of the cooks had to get up from the big table to let us sit there (I’ve never had the food, but a few friends who were with us did not have nice things to say about it).

All of this is made MORE disappointing by the fact that they actually have some pretty darn good beer. The Emperor Norton Lager, a well-balanced, malty, amber lager, was one of the standouts, and the hefeweizen they had on tap was delicious and lemony, without being too fruity.

Our waitress there last night was great too, always nice, very attentive, and she even brought the birthday boy a free birthday pint–it was one of the stouts, possibly the Alcatraz. Very bitter, with strong coffee flavors, it was a solid, drinkable stout.

We always seem to want to stop at La Trappe for “just one beer.” The beer there is amazing, but expensive compared to the $15 pitchers of Mirror Pond we were were making our way towards at Kennedy’s. It almost always turns into two or three though. I started with a Maredsous 6 on tap and Joe had the Kasteel Donker–which we all just kept referring to as “The Donker”–from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck NV. It’s a brown ale that weighs in at 10% alcohol, but has such rich cherry and chocolate notes that you hardly notice the alcohol. A delicious (and dangerous!) beer.

Another standout was the high gravity amber ale, new on tap: Klokke Roeland from Van Steenberg Brewery. It’s 11.5%, light sweetness–very controlled for such a high-alcohol beer.

And finally, the favorite of the night was the Wittoen Tripel from Brouwerij Strubbe. It’s a high-fermentation white beer with added herbs to make it a gruit. High fermentation beer is the same thing as top fermented– it’s done at higher temperatures and the yeast, which can tolerate higher alcohol levels, rises to the top. It’s a hard beer to describe flavor-wise. It’s smooth, and actually tastes more like an amber than a white beer. Tastes a bit like creme brulee, but more refreshing.

Tags: Beerventures · Tastings