BreastFest: Good beers, good times, good cause!

This past Saturday I attended the 10th annual BreastFest at Herbst Pavillion at Fort Mason in San Francisco. This was the first year this event has made it across the bay to San Francisco, having previously taken place in Marin Brewing Company’s parking lot up in Larkspur.  This event was a combination of two of my favorite things…beers and breasts!  This event supported the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic dedicated to holistic healing for women suffering from breast cancer.  A good cause no doubt, and a great reason to bring together so many great breweries.

Many great breweries there, some of which I’d heard of and others that were new to me.  I’d have to say the highlights for me were Firestone Walker’s 13th Anniversary Ale and Nectar Ale’s Black Xantus, neither of which were being tasted, but lone bottles were opened at Firestone Walker’s table and I was lucky enough to try them.  Many mediocre beers but also some surprises like Anderson Valley’s Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema (a surprise to me as I have feelings of mundanity associated with this brewery) as well as Iron Spring’s The Crippla.

This event was a great opportunity to try many beers and for some of my friends, to be amazed at how many breweries there are out there just in Northern California.  I really hope this event comes back to Fort Mason next year, although I had such a good time I’d be willing to cross the bridge to attend!

Pictures below.

Tried Brenda and Jessica’s Bridal Ale – light, crisp and refreshing

Boys from Stone share their pale ale

Tried all of the above from local brewery, Triple Rock

One of the highlights from the day: Firestone Walker 13th Anniversary Ale

Joined by friends in partaking of the festivities

Another highlight: Black XantusRandom hair band rockin’ 80’s and 90’s music

Oddity of the day: Blanco Basura aka White Trash which was decent!

Russian River’s Vinnie Cilurzo pours 2008 Temptation aged in Chardonnay barrels

This photo about sums up the day

Port Brewing Hot Rocks Lager

Port Brewing's Hot Rocks Lager

Thanks to the genius that is Twitter, I found out that Monk’s Kettle had Port Brewing’s Hot Rocks Lager on tap a couple weeks ago.  Since I hadn’t been able to try it on my recent brewery trip down to San Diego, I made a point of heading over there to check it out.

I was fascinated with the idea of a “stoned” (adding hot stones to the wort during the brewing process) beer and having never tried one, was eager to check it out.  From what I’ve read, adding in hot stones caramelizes the sugars to give it a toffee flavor which sounded right up my alley as I generally love toffee and caramel flavors in beer.  As you can see, it has a beautiful ruby brown color with an off-white creamy head.  Definitely had a caramel-y smell and taste with quite a bit of lingering flavor.  I found this beer to be quite drinkable; not overwhelming in its taste and really enjoyable.  And at 6.2% ABV,  you can savor a few of these without too much punch.  Definitely worth checking out if you happen to come across it.

I love the sweat dripping's the hot rocks!

What are your favorite characteristics in beer?  Caramel?  Toffee?  Sour?  Hops?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Social Kitchen Brewery

A few months ago a new brewpub came to town.  Social Kitchen Brewery is located in the Inner Sunset district of San Francisco and it is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.  I finally made it here this past Tuesday night for the start of their Köln Night.  From their website:

“Throughout the evening, servers circulate through the dining room with trays of freshly-poured beers, depositing a full, cold glass each time a patron’s glass is nearly empty. Guests enjoy the conviviality of good company and good beer, with nary an empty glass, and no need to flag down a server to order another. They enjoy the continual hospitality of cold, fresh beer. The stanges are a moderate 250 ml (8 oz.), and the beer is less than 5% ABV, so the glasses don’t linger, and the sessionable beer stays refreshing, cold, and lively.”

Kölsch and pretzels

As the first person to arrive, I made my way upstairs to their mezzanine, grabbed a table for Andrei, Gene and I and waited.  Being their first time doing this, I think the waitresses were a bit confused but they figured out a system (marking your coaster to know how many beers you’ve had).  The Kölsch they tapped was very refreshing as a Kölsch should be.  The flavor was good and light enough to enjoy several glasses of it.  They passed out pretzels and some of their IPA mustard to each table which went really well with the beer.  There were also sausages, sauerkraut and other German noshes for people to share, although you had to be on top of your game if you wanted to grab something before it disappeared.  We stayed up in that area for a while but meandered downstairs so we could try the other beer.  They’ve got about 5 brews on tap and all were very tasty. My particular favorite was their L’Enfant Terrible belgian style dark ale. It sounds like they’ve tweaked the recipes a bit because both Andrei and Gene had gone there when it first opened and they thought the beer tasted better this time around.  We also shared some spicy hot wings and chili fries which were both good.

I’ll definitely head back here whether it be for one of their German drinking nights or to drink good beer and have great food.

More pics below.

Allagash Interlude

Photo courtesy of

On my recent trip down to San Diego, I stopped by Downtown Johnny Brown’s to check out their Allagash night.  In the past I’ve had a few Allagash beers and really enjoyed them, so was intrigued to try out more.  The favorite of the night for me was Allagash’s Interlude.

Interlude is categorized a an American Wild Ale.  I’m sure most of you haven’t heard of this style and neither had I until a couple months ago!  To be honest, I think when beers become complex, they aren’t easy to categorize and thus styles like “American Wild Ale” come into use.  That being said, most of the beers that are categorized as American Wild Ale are beers that I like…so I guess I shouldn’t badmouth it. 😉

My initial thoughts on this beer: beautiful golden color; clear, champagne-style carbonation with an off-white head.  Smells of apples and light fruit.  You can definitely taste the brett, which most people characterize as being “funky”.  I enjoy that funky flavor!  I definitely tasted the apples as well as grapes.  The finish had a white pepper flavor to it.  Slightly sour as well, although I wouldn’t characterize it as a sour beer.   Interlude has an ABV of 9.5%, which means it packs a tasty and oh-so-delicious punch.  This beer has a lot going on flavor wise, so I would suggest savoring it…bask in the beauty and uniqueness of this beer.

Results: 4 out of 5 pints