Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Welcome to the Bay: The First Few Weeks

Greetings from the other side [of the country]! I have officially lived in San Francisco for three weeks now, and am a proud resident of the Mission District, which seems to be one of the best neighborhoods for hilarious encounters, people watching, and lucky for me, drinking. This city goes crazy for artisan food and craft booze, making it a haven for such an enthusiast as myself.

The Flagship Gin
I love my new job as assistant at Distillery No. 209- highlights of my first couple weeks include learning how to drive a forklift; calculating the proof-gallons (It's a tax thing...) of several 1,000+ gallon holding tanks; bottling 300 gallons of gin; and even some small time distilling!

I am still settling in to my new life here, but I didn't want to go too long without a post, lest I forget how to write one, so here is a highlight reel of my alcohol adventures so far in the Bay area.

My Quest has so far spanned a good bit of the Bay. Now that I'm writing this all down, it seems appropriate to proclaim East Bay Beer the focus of this post, plus the Honor Bar in Emeryville which has awesome cocktails.

Turns out, there's some good stuff going on in the East Bay...

Oakland

In downtown Oakland my friend took me to a really cool bar called The Trappist, located right near the 12th Street BART. Belgian beer lovers' paradise, The Trappist has an extensive menu of international draft wheat beers. The interior is dim and stony and feels kind of like a medieval chamber (you know, in a good way). Not too cramped, with a couple different rooms, each with its own bar and music selection, and a comfortable mish mash of short and tall tables and chairs. It's the kind of place you want to hang for awhile with a friend or a date, a bit pricey but with a casual vibe. Sadly I apparently didn't have the wherewithal to take any useful pics...

Berkeley

I made a trip to the Pyramid Brewery in downtown Berkeley. Took a tour of the brewery, which was very big and fluorescent and industrial- tour guests are required to wear big rubba boots and lab glasses inside the factory. It was kinda cool to be able to look inside the mash tuns, filled with churning bubbling grain mash, and the tour was free, which really sold it for me. It ended with a free sampling of a few brews. Unfortunately pictures weren't allowed in the brewery, just in the attached restaurant/bar.  I wasn't super impressed with any of the beers I tasted; overall a "meh" for me. The Inkblot Porter lacked the requisite depth and the Red Wheat Ale With Fig lacked any discernible actual fig flavor, though the Thunderhead IPA was a pretty well-balanced beer, not too hoppy. The free tour and tasting was great though, and the glass facade impressive. Definitely worth a stop.


Their flights are served on hangars! I thought it was really cool...


Emeryville

I couldn't wait to start on mine
Another good booze spot in the East Bay! Honor Bar's unique setup is like nothing I've seen- you walk into a speakeasy with classic rock in the background, and the first thing you see is the central ovular bar with its bright red lighting. Tables line the walls and fill the floor, along with a serve-yourself kitchen- there's no table service, so you order bar food and drinks from the bar and find yourself a spot. Here the idea is that you can grab some things yourself and pay by the honor system, including food and some bottled beers that sit in tubs of ice scattered around the bar. Their booze list features local options, including Gin No. 209, which of course gets them some points in my book :) Talk about interesting cocktails- because I love my flips (cocktails made with raw egg whites) I had the Queen Anne’s Revenge, which has hibiscus-infused gin, grapefruit marmalade, egg white, and ginger beer. My friend ordered the Hollenbeck Cooler- tequila, blood orange liqueur, honey-rosemary shrub, apple cider, pomegranate. I wish I could've tasted more rosemary in the latter, but overall, awesome drinks, awesome vibe, awesome bar.

Finally, San Francisco!

Another spot with an emphasis on Belgian beers! New trend, perhaps?  Schmidt's in the Mission District also features German food, including awesome (but expensive, the other trend...) sausages, sp├Ątzle , and other German delicacies. Plus a very tasty apple strudel. My favorite of the extensive German draft and bottle beer list was the franziskaner dunkel, a dark wheat beer. The restaurant doubles as a specialty foods market, so don't be surprised by the frozen food cases behind the bar!

These are all places that I stumbled into; none of these cool spots were premeditated for me at all- which is why I think I'm going to love this town. Coming soon: Trivia in the Mission! Cheap wine tasting in the East Bay! Cocktails in SF!

Plus, I promise to post a picture of me driving the forklift. You need no more incentive to keep checking back right??


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