San Francisco Brewing Company

I was flipping through an old Moleskine notebook of mine and came across what looks like my first set of microbrewery tasting notes, from December 30, 2005. Apparently I was in San Francisco at that time and had several free hours to spend in the San Francisco Brewing Company, which closed its doors in November 2009. The notes themselves are about as basic as you can get, but they make me smile, and so writing this post seems like a decent way to say goodbye to the SFBC, even though I didn’t particularly like most of their beers. Ah well.

SF Brewing glass

Logo pint glass from the now-closed San Francisco Brewing Company

    Rob’s Picks

  • Albatross Lager – good
  • Emperor Norton Lager – good
  • St Stephens Bock – Yum! Like a brown ale.
    The Rest

  • Andromeda Wheat – meh, weak
  • SF Pale Ale – meh, borderline okay
  • ShanghaIPA – okay, but not so bitter or crisp
  • Xmas Cheer – pretty good, but nothing creative
  • Alcatraz Stout – kind of flat-tasting

There are other interesting things in my scribblings in the SF Brewing Co. A snippet of conversation from a nearby table: “I would rather my sister were a stripper than a telemarketer.” I apparently took the picture of two couples at another table (with their camera at their request…), and they were having a “young, meta conversation,” whatever that means. “A strike against the S.F.B.C.: They’re playing Sting.” And as far as the weather went, it was pouring down rain that afternoon.


San Juan Brewing

Update: Closed!

Last and, unfortunately, least was the San Juan Brewing Company and Front Street Ale House.  After five days of biking, I was really looking forward to this brewpub. Instead, what I found was forgettable beer and mediocre food. Two bad tastes that go worse together. You gotta be leery of a place that touts their Bacon Beer as their most famous (“as mentioned in the New York Times!”). They had an insert in their menus saying they were out of the Bacon Beer at the moment, which was some welcome news to me, but when the taster tray showed up, there it was. Wayne generously offered to drink that one.

San Juan Brewing

San Juan Brewing taster tray — Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA

    Rob’s Pick

  • Blockhouse Red – decent amber, but only 4.0%
    The Rest

  • Raging Main Ale (limited edition) – stale, papery taste. Their strongest beer at 6.6%.
  • Royal Marine IPA – kinda hoppy, but kinda big for an IPA, which masks the hoppiness. A little too well-rounded for my tastes. 4.3%
  • Eichenberger Hefeweizen – kind of watery. Meh. 4.0%
  • Haro Strait Pale Ale – slightly floral, mostly meh. One of my least favorite Pale Ales, actually. A mere 3.5%.
  • Ale Diablo Pepper Beer – peppery! Gives you something else to think about as you drink this otherwise mediocre beer.
  • Starboard Porter – a Zen koan of a beer. From the beer menu: “Molasses” – yup. “Version of a straight-forward stout” – yup. “But without the stoutiness” – odd. What is a stout when it’s not a stout?
  • Bacon Beer – Wayne sez, “inoffensive”

The next day we took the ferry to Lopez Island, where we met up with Wayne’s wife, who had driven up from Seattle.  We loaded the bikes onto the car, then spent the day motoring all around the island, and capping it off with a great dinner.  In some ways I felt guilty about the bike-less last day of the bike tour, but in other ways I didn’t…  All in all, I have to say it a fine trek.

Water Street

Update: Closed!

The second brewery of the bike tour was pretty close to the first, as well as to the Keystone ferry. Very convenient. Anyway, Water Street Brewing has a lot going for it — relaxed hang-out vibe, cool decor, friendly and pretty waitstaff, great food. Unfortunately, beer is not on that list. Very disappointing, especially after all the good stuff down the road at Port Townsend Brewing. Oh well. They also sell hand-blown, hippy-esque glasses (for $25/glass!), but no logo pint glasses, contrary to the artwork on their web site. I only had so much room in my panniers, though, so that was okay. Did I mention they have great food? The BBQ tofu sandwich was all sorts of spicy awesomeness.

Water Street Brewing

Water Street Brewing taster tray

    Rob’s Pick

  • Queen Nina’s Imperial IPA – kind of a messy IPA, but good enough
    The Rest

  • Schwag Lite – kind of meh
  • Purdy Pale – too floral for my tastes
  • Strange Brew Single Hop – well-named. Hoppy, but taste is all over the place.
  • Panama Red – vague caramel flavor, but mostly bland
  • McPrior’s Irish Stout – slight formaldehyde aroma, watery, mostly tasteless. Pretty bad stout.
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