Wednesday, June 16, 2010

From the Old to the New

San Francisco to Santa Rosa

The morning started with a ferry ride from Oakland to San Francisco and one of the first proper coffees in ten days.. Magic.

First up we took a step back in time and visited the Anchor Brewery. A fairly large operation of an almost Willy Wonker character.

Ancient copper kettles covered in all sorts of taps and hoses and dials, some of which are no longer required, but still used, for traditions sake.

The hop room was fantastic, all cones no pellets. And a massive open vat fermenting room used for their flagship product the Steam Ale.

Other than being the pioneer for Steam Beer they also have the oldest continuously brewed, American examples of Porter and Barley wine.

This is pretty much the birthplace of U.S. craft brewing.  We had a quick chat with Mark Carpenter - Assistant Brewmaster, who had been at the brewery for decades!  He had recently visited Oz and had just made a beer called the Humming Ale using the NZ Nelson Sauvin hop....a good solid beer which represented the hop variety very well. 

After checking the Apple store for the elusive iPad (sold out...again) we went on to have lunch with Jaime Jurado (Trumer Pils) and his colleague Lars Larson (Master Brewer - Trumer Pils). We slammed down some fine fish taco's and a couple of Burritos which punctuated a serious discussion about beer academia. It doesn't get much more serious than fish taco serious.

The guys from Trumer Pils were brilliant hosts and we thank Jaime,  Lars and Darren Moser (also of Trumer Pils). 

Anchor is the symbol of the birth of U.S. craft beer, our next stop, Russian River in Santa Rosa, is recognised at being at the forefront. A range of 18 taps (only one guest beer), Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary, which we hope to have at the brewery in Chico tomorrow).  One seasonal and 16 house brews means that the 17 two Oz. tasting flight is a long and tasty way to learn.

Pliny the Elder lives up to it's name as a giant amongst the West Coast IPA's. And their Belgian Strong Dark, Salvation, is smooth and well balanced.

The food was true beer food....some better than others. A damn hot batch off chicken wings nearly knocked us all out!! Eating pools of hot sauce while drinking super hoppy beers while eating these didnt help!

They did some basic pizza cut into small pieces called Beer Bites with a salsa dip...interesting and a good beer food to share. They are known for their calzones and pizza's but we had to restrain ourselves for fear of overload on carbs. The antipasto was a bit lack luster, nothing more than a selection of pizza toppings thrown on a plastic plate.  Not a worthy for Pliny the Elder.

Above: Antipasto plate at Russian River

We have had some great food over here. Some beer bars have had better fare than others. What is increasingly obvious is that food shares the limelight.  A good example is Magnolias in San Francisco.

Below: Charcuterie and cheese plate at Magnolias


  1. Magnolia is a gem. Food and beer are both outstanding. Have to mention that food was a consideration at most of the beer venues around Melbourne....

  2. Wow! Keep up the updates. Love seeing what you are up to!

    Van from Aus