An Evening At La Trappe

Tuesday night was the first “Pint Sized Musings” sponsored event at La Trappe in San Francisco and there was a decent turn out.  It all started with my friend Suki mentioning to me that she had never been to La Trappe.  After I got over the shock of it, I immediately started looking at the calendar to see what dates would work for the both of us.  Then it turned into a “who else can we invite” which then turned into a “let’s make it an event!”  And so it went and I invited some good friends to come out to La Trappe for an evening of tasty Belgian beers.

I got there right at 6:00 pm to secure the back lounge area which would allow a larger group to sit together.  After my eyes adjusted to the low lighting, I decided to start with a Maredsous 8 dubbel (served in a Malheur glass).  I’ll save that for another review but I will say it was very good.  As people started to arrive, I took them up to the bar to try a few beers before settling on what they wanted.  Most people are not familiar with Belgian styles so luckily Mike (bartender at La Trappe) was kind enough to give tasters (he does this regularly so if you visit, don’t be afraid to ask if you’re not sure!).  People got settled with their first drink and there was a lot of conversation and merriment.  La Trappe offers Belgian fries and so a few people ordered those to share….they go so well with beer!

Next I started ordering bottles of various styles for people to try.  We started out with a saison, Sason D’Epeautre.  This was a perfect farmhouse ale, light and dry.  Everyone thought it was very tasty and refreshing as well (perfect for those monks working out in the fields…LoL).  Next up was Chimay White.  The name Chimay is familiar to most people although not everyone has had the white.  This is a wonderful example of the tripel style, fruity and well balanced.  For the last bottle I had wanted everyone to try Three Philosophers because of its unique flavor (thanks to the kriek that is added).  Sadly, La Trappe were out of it and so I opted to go with two other quadrupels, Allagash Four Ale and Koningshoeven.  Out of the two, Koningshoeven definitely won the favorite of the night from the vast majority of the people in attendance.   We also ended up trying a couple others, thanks to Andrei and Neha – Malheur Dark Brut (think champagne style beer) and Zoetzuur, a Flemish red.

Zoetzuur (Flanders Red ale), Koningshoeven Quadrupel, Malheur Dark Brut (Bière de Champagne), Allagash Four (Quadrupel), Saison d'Epeautre, Chimay White (Tripel)

Amazing selection or beer and I think everyone left feeling content and maybe a bit buzzed.  All in all, a wonderful evening spent with great friends, great beer, and a great locale.

Thanks to all who attended and I’m looking forward to planning the next one!

All photos courtesy of Andrei Zmievski

North Coast Brewery

This past weekend Andrei, Terry, Marie and I headed to Mendocino to take in the amazing selection of beer and wine they have in the area.  One of our first stops was North Coast Brewery in Ft. Bragg.  I have tried several of North Coast’s beers before, but was looking forward to getting an “overview” of what they had to offer.

We arrived at 11:30 am and there were already six or seven people waiting for them to open! (Note to potential visitors: If you’re going on a weekend, getting there earlier is better.  When we left two hours later it was packed and there was quite a wait).  We chose to sit in the bar (which was open seating) rather than the restaurant.  The first thing we ordered was their sampler.  They had twelve beers on tap and were served in 4 ounce tastes (perfect for 2-4 people to share).  Out of the twelve beers on tap, I’d say about half were worth drinking again (remember, my opinion!).  The Blue Star Wheat and Scrimshaw Pilsner were too light for my taste.  However, the others seemed to like the pilsner enough.  The next ones were the Acme Pale Ale and IPA.  Again, passes for me but I don’t particularly like those styles either.  The first one I felt like I could drink more of was the Cask Conditioned Red Seal Ale.  Strangely enough, I preferred this style to the straight up Red Seal Ale.  Why I find it strange is that I rarely enjoy cask conditioned ales which tend to be flat to my taste buds.  Next up was the Old No. 38 Stout.  This was a solid stout and one I could definitely drink again, although I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it in a bar.  Very roasty with a strong coffee flavor.  From here on out, I really loved all of them (getting into the higher alcohol and belgian styles).  Brother Thelonious (named after Thelonious Monk) is similar to a belgian dark strong ale, with a high ABV of 9.3%.  I’ve found this in San Francisco a few times, most notably at The Page.  This beer is tasty, tasty, tasty… yes, that is a technical term. ;-)  Pranqster is North Coast’s attempt at a Belgian Style Golden Ale.  I really enjoyed this and more to follow in a post just about this beer.  La Merle was up next on the list…I’ve had this at Kennedy’s here in San Francisco but I believe it’s easy enough to find in good beer bars and beer stores.  This is a very good saison style beer, tasty and light with hints of fruit.  Old Stock Ale was up next and I was most excited to try this beer.   At 12.5% ABV, this is one beer you should sip rather than gulp.  The style is listed as Old Ale which I’ve not done a lot of research on, but I know that every time I have one I usually like it!  This beer has a beautiful mahogany color and malty flavor.  I left with a four pack of this and plan on letting it age a bit.  I’ve never seen this at any store or bar around here so if you make it up to the brewery, make sure to try it.  Last but not least was Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout.  Having tried this several times at The Monk’s Kettle, I already knew I would enjoy revisiting this one again.  This is a big, bold beer and worth delving into for a later blog post.  Needless to say, I left with an Old Rasputin XI and XII to take home.

Definitely look forward to my next trip up to North Coast.  They have a solid selection of great beers and at $4/glass, definitely worth spending a few hours here if you’re in the area.  Next time we’ll try to hit up the tour!

Pranqster, Acme IPA & La Merle

North Coast Brewery old kettle

Until next time, North Coast! Keep the great beers coming!