I never did get back to you on the rest of the trip to San Francisco. After puttering about, showering and getting dressed, some e-mail, some reading I had to do, and such, I called Jamie Fox -- husband of long-time Malt Advocate staffer Kathy Fox, and a good friend -- and asked him if he had anything planned for lunch. How about we go across the Bay and hit two brewpubs in Berkeley, I temptingly offered. He quickly accepted, and we grabbed a BART train at about 11:15 for the trip to Berkeley Downtown.
Jupiter is right across the street from the station, intriguingly close and signed with a script neon that had called to me last year...but I had no time then. This year I did, and Jamie and I crossed the street and went in. They'd just opened, and the bar still smelled a bit of sour beer from the night before, so we wandered out back into a lovely little beer oasis, with a fountain pool that had a gas flame firepit in the middle; quite Elemental. We sat under the arbor, relaxed, and it was good.
Even better, so was the beer. I had a very nice glass of helles, which pleased me immensely: a brewpub lager, in California, and it was delish! I hadn't had anything to eat yet, and quickly ordered the Asian chicken skewers (good, and the peanut sauce was good, but not tremendous). Mostly we just relaxed and enjoyed the moment, the beautiful weather, the peaceful spot, and the friendly attentions of our waitress, Elizabeth. When the time was right, I ordered my lunch, a Galileo pizza: artichoke hearts, mushrooms, cheeses, garlic, spinach, and diced fresh tomato. And a porter, which was also quite nice; just a touch chocolatey, very drinkable.
Eventually, we left, though not before discovering that I'd apparently lost four credit cards! Luckily I had plenty of cash, and paid up with that. (I would eventually learn that the cards had dropped out of my wallet in a cab the night before; no harm, no foul, just a bit of angst.)
Up Shattuck we walked to Triple Rock. So comfortable, so welcoming, so friendly. I stuck to porter, and enjoyed it, and enjoyed the interplay of bar patrons. Nice people at Triple Rock, an older crowd -- at least, during the day when I've been there the last two years -- and Jamie was happy with it. After our first round, we noticed that our time was running down -- had to get back to the hotel to do some WhiskyFest work -- so we got right to the business we'd come for: a liter bottle of Monkey Head Arboreal Ale, a specialty beer brewed for Triple Rock at Drake's and only available on Thursdays; I don't know why, but I missed it last year and I wanted it.
Well...it was okay. It was good, it was solid, but it wasn't compelling. I was saddened, but not enough to put a dent on this great afternoon. The credit card situation was maybe preying on my mind a bit, to be honest. We pulled stakes and got back on the BART to the hotel.
A little work, and then we went out to see Parker Beam and the Heaven Hill folks at Rickhouse, a new bourbon bar: John and Amy Hansell, the hard-working Joan McGinley, and myself (we supposed Jamie was under the drink flag, but it was actually Kathy who was napping!). Good time, but hot up in the upper balcony/mezzanine. Delish drinks: a punch made, I believe, with Bernheim wheat whiskey, or maybe that was in the second drink, a smash with a blazingly fresh and aromatic mint leaf on top. I got into a conversation with a rep from Bols, who was shocked to learn that not only did I know what genever was, I was a fan, and had five different bottles at home, none of which were her product. What can I say, I like the stuff.
After that, we headed for Magnolia Pub & Brewery, where we were to be met again by Dave Keene. It was hopping, and we put our names in for a table and headed for the bar. At least, John and I did; we thought Amy and Joan were with us, but we lost them. We had headed in different directions (why would you head in any direction other than the bar?). We hadn't gotten the bartender's attention yet when a waitress said she had a booth open that she could put a chair to; would that do? Sure! We sat, and quickly ordered pints of cask Marin IPA. By God, they were just about perfect.
Unfortunately, we would have problems getting more of them, as our waitress at that point seemed to get very confused, and would bring us Marin Mt. Tam Pale Ale every time thereafter, despite John's telling her, This is not the beer I ordered. She brought him another Mt. Tam, and we gave up. It was good, but it wasn't the IPA. I short-circuited the problem by ordering cask Cole Porter, a house beer, and it was good.
The two women had rejoined us at this point, and Dave had arrived, so we fell to our dinners, which were excellent (rare burger, heavenly). When dins was over, we walked out into the warm early evening (it was actually quite warm, and a bit muggy, and no one has AC in SF...), looked up and down Haight, and thought about options. Amy and Joan grabbed a cab and headed for Bourbon & Branch; Dave and John and I decided to walk up Haight to Alembic. We were all thinking cocktail, something light, cool, sippy, and sophisticated.
However...Alembic was jammed (and hot), so we reluctantly went back out to the street, and caught our own cab to Bourbon & Branch. What's the password, the doorkeeper asked. WhiskyFest, we answered, and he said, that'll do. We went to Joan and Amy's table, tucked into the back room, and ordered drinks...which arrived just after we left on a tour of the whole place, including the Library and the new cigar bar. Great tour, fascinating bar with a lot of history, and a lot has been put into making it just so. Unfortunately, when we got back, our drinks had been sitting for almost half an hour, and they were limp and exhausted. The waitress got us fresh ones, but we weren't knocked out by them.
Hmmm...lemme see the menu. I was hot, which was part of the problem, so I looked for a tall drink, something more refreshing. How about this: a Democrat, bourbon, peach liqueur, honey, and fresh lemon juice in a collins glass full of ice. Sounds great! Best of all, I quipped, it's a Democrat: someone else will pay for it! (just a joke, folks...) It was delicious, cold and refreshing.
It was also the end. I walked back to the hotel -- everyone else took a cab, and only beat me by about minute -- and hit the hay. Jamie and I had planned to hit Dottie's True Blue for breakfast Friday morning, and I had to get rested!
Thanks, Lew. Now Jim's gonna be steamed about all the fun he missed!
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