Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pliny the Younger Release & SF Beer Week festivities!

I think I drank my weight in beer last week. It started with an early Saturday morning drive to the Russian River Brew co on February 9th.... and ended with a very hung over drive home from SF Sunday morning the 17th. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Russian River Brew Co for Pliny the Younger :

A little background to start. Russian River Brew Co is a family run brewery initially opened with the support of Korbel Champagne Cellars. Vinnie Cilurzo the Brew-master and his wife Natalie have run the business from it's inception 2003. In 2004 they opened the brewpub in downtown Santa Rosa which sets the scene for our February 9th adventure. Now for the cause- Pliny the Younger. Released for a limited 2 weeks per year at the Brewpub with single kegs distributed locally to the very special few. Named by Beer Advocate as the Best Beer In the World, it truly is a special experience.Using Triple the standard hops of your typical IPA the time and space required to brew this heavenly elixir are what keep it's quantities so limited. For those with true determination however, your prize awaits. And by true determination? I mean a willingness to wait 6 hours in line...
RRBC pours Younger beginning the first Friday in February. Rumor has it the first people in line the first morning arrived at 3am. With a 2 hour drive to get there from San Jose we weren't quite that bold. I had wrangled Abbie into coming with me after two sets of guys friends were being non-committal with their plans. Initially we talked about leaving San Jose at 9 am to arrive at 11, assuming that surely things would be tapering off going into the second weekend. However after scaring ourselves with some online reports we decided to opt a little earlier for an 8 am start. Thank goodness we did. Even arriving at that time as we drove past the brewpub observing the line that stretched a good two blocks and was beginning to accumulate around the corner... I'll be honest we got a little nervous. After finding parking (all the parking is two hour limits... so we did a lot of taking turns to move the car or pay for more time) we dutifully got to the back of the line up. Thankfully just across the street there are 2 coffee shops along with a bookstore so we weren't at a total lose. As Abbie returned from a trip to procure some pastries for breakfast I saw her signaling me to get out of line. Is she crazy? Nope! It turns out our good friend Jared and a group of other college buddies were just around the bend from where we were waiting and we were joining them! They had only arrived about 20 minutes ahead of us however joining them probably cut our wait time for later by an hour. And thankfully gave us a little more flexibility to get out of line and stay entertained. I'll keep the stories of the wait short because I don't want to bore you as much as we were bored (let's just say the last hour of the wait where you stand next to the patio full of revelers is basically torture, I watched a drunk girl spill her Pliny all over the place and I told her she was ruining my life...) Finally at about 4:15 we made it in!
As soon as we made our way to the end of their very long bar the rounds of Younger were ordered and the true festivities began! With cloying aromas of wild flowers and a viscous yet refreshing mouth feel the Younger's flavor is many layered with hints of grape fruit, wild honey, nuttiness, minimal bitterness and basically everything that is amazing about beer. Oh and also at 10% abv... your buzzed almost immediately and you've never felt happier. Although I have never given birth I feel like that first sip is like the first time you hold your child... suddenly those 6 painful prior hours drift away. Ok that is I'm sure an incredible exaggeration. Regardless by the time I was 3 deep I was on top of the world.

RRBC has an extensive portfolio of beers that they produce and you are able to sip them all in their sampler, a STEAL at $15. I appreciated the many unique styles the showcase such as 3 variations of sour style beers, their IPA's, Belgian Style beers and what felt like everything in between. It's no wonder that once people make it inside they aren't exactly eager to leave. After enjoying the many beers, pizza, & wings we finally bid adieu to Russian River Brew with our Growlers filled with Elder, a day not soon to be forgotten!

SF Beer Week: Allagash tasting & 7x7 Bar/Brewery Crawl:

Wednesday night found my roommate and I on dash up to the city after work to the Mission area bar The Sycamore for their Allagash brewery night.  A cozy space with red walls and a chalk board of beverage choices the Sycamore boats a small 6 seat bar, some tables in the main room, and an adorable patio out back. The place was packed to the gills when we arrived. After some wiggling and maneuvering however we lucked out and grabbed a corner of the bar where we set up our tasting. There were no official flights however they were pouring 8 different varieties in your choice of a 4 oz or 8 oz glass. Shannon and I decided to each pick the 2 that we were most intrigued by and share our own custom flight of 4 oz pours!
Pictured were our 4 pours- The James Bean (a Bourbon Barrel aged Tripel with cold pressed coffee added, 10.3% alcohol amazing depth of flavor sweet and smokey my favorite of the night), the Dubbel (tradition Belgian double hopped beer, it was nice but not particularly interesting), the Interlude (a Belgian style farmhouse beer aged in wine barrels with a unique almost cider type flavor, fun and different), and Allagash's most well know beer the  White (a traditional Belgian Wheat beer with the additions of coriander and tropical orange peel, always one of my favorites) we enjoyed sipping tastes and comparing all 4 beers while also sampling their kitchens offering of the night (to celebrate the Portland, Maine brewery) a traditional Lobster roll. ( I took a picture but it was way to dark to make it worth posting). Simply dressed on a traditionally grilled bun with huge chunks of sweet lobster meat it was a fun treat along with these exceptional beers. After doing our flight and lobster roll we grabbed a pint of the Trippel and headed out to enjoy the unseasonably warm night on the patio. Inside there were signs promoting their Sunday brunch specials and we look forward to another warm weekend to spend out on the patio with some mimosa's!

7X7 North Beach Bar Crawl

The last event I attended was the 7x7 bar crawl featuring 7 local breweries set up at 7 different bars in the North Beach neighborhood. We didn't end up going to all 7 (we got a little bit later start than intended thanks to construction traffic on the Embarcadero) but had a great time at the ones we made it too! The entry fee was $10 pre paid (you got a tee shirt!) and each bar charged $4 for your tasting flight of 3-4 beers (my educated guess was 4 oz pours, they all had the same little plastic cups they were using specifically for the tasting). Check in was in front of Northstar so of course they had the biggest initial crowd, we decided to save them for later and headed across the street to Boardroom for so Speakeasy beers. I was so caught up in conversation with my Lil' Bro Arthur who I attended with that I have to admit to not taking notes or pictures. However you can never go wrong with Speakeasy beers! From there we headed over to O'Reilly's for some Magnolia beers. They were the only ones I saw pouring 4 and they had some great flavors particularly the Imperial IPA. Next up was Shmaltz Brewers over at Amante a cool old school bar that called to mind Frank Sinatra. They were pouring some of their He'Brews line at the tasting and I didn't realize till the brewer gave me their card that they also brew the "The Freak" Beers which are named and labeled after Circus and Carnival characters. Their Albino Python is one of my favorite Belgian White Ales. We wrapped it up at Northstar with the Laugunitas tasting.  Arthur had actually gone tasting at Laugunitas the weekend prior (after arriving WAY to late to get in at RRBC) and was familiar with the beers we were tasting particularly their "Sucks beer" which is a second run of one of their really good beers. True to name it did suck. This was a great way to spend a Saturday, the weather was mostly sunny and warm and the crowds not overwhelming if you chose your next bar carefully. It was a good value for all we got and I look forward to going again next year!

Beer week is so much fun each year and the list of events I want to attend. Even the little things (beer flavored ice cream at Humphrey Slocombe?! way tastier than you might imagine) make it a special time in the City!

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