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Need help pt 2: beer

  • r

Running hospitality suite, blah, blah.

Our "house beer" is Sierra Nevada -- it's been really popular in the past with out convention members.

But I'd like to supplement it with some good local brews for the more discerning/adventurous drinkers.

In this case, I'm only interested in stuff that's really good. I know almost nothing about beer, so as much detailed info as you can include would be very helpful. Again, I'd like to keep it as SF Bay area focused as possible. Bottles only.

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  1. ooooh, you should use the Speakeasy Brewery stuff. They have a variety of beers and i don't even like beer but i drink their Prohibition Ale when ever i do drink beer....

    1. I am not good at describing beers, but I know when I like them. Here are the local brews I enjoy:

      ** Ditto the suggestion for Speakeasy brewery / Prohibition ales ...

      Site has quite a bit of specific information about them. On top of that, the bottles and logos are cool, and a fun conversation piece. They have a fantastic fall, pumpkin ale as well that I really enjoyed this year.


      ** Anchor Steam is a bit more mainstream in it's taste, but it's oh-so San Francisco. American Style Amber Lager


      ** Ruedrich's Red Seal Ale. This is a pale ale from North Coast Brewing Company. This is the beer that I end up purchasing for consumption above all others.

      Tasting notes: http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/rate...


      All of these beers are widely available in the Bay Area - definitely available at Beverages and More

      1. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is certainly a great beer to "anchor" your selection. Sierra Nevada also makes one of the world's best Porters (it's the bottle with the blue label)-- rich and chocolatey in taste.

        Anchor Steam is soooooo San Francisco. Even people who are not beer mavens often have heard about it and want to try it.

        Gordon Biersch (yes, I know it's a chain, but it's a Bay Area chain) puts out some distinguished bottled beer.

        Is Mendocino too far away? Anything from Mendocino Brewing Company is good. I've attached a link to their description of their main brews.


        Link: http://www.mendobrew.com/brews/main_b...

        5 Replies
        1. re: Gary Soup
          Bryan Harrell

          Mendocino Brewing Company underwent a radical change of ownership and management several years ago, and I believe all their current beers are a mere shadow of what they were in the early 90s. The saving grace is the new IPA, but even that product doesn't hold up well to what other small breweries are putting up.

          Speakeasy in SF has an awesomely talented brewer, and is making some great bottled product which would go well in a small restaurant format.

          For those who want the Real Awesome Thing, try any beer from Hair Of The Dog in Portland. But be forewarned, this stuff is only for the most adventurous.

          For those between the two above recommendations, the choices are endless in the Bay Area.

          1. re: Bryan Harrell

            Can't agree with you on that one. I've been drinking their products since the brewery was founded, and haven't noticed a diference. I'll agree that Eye of the Hawk fell off when they started making it year-round, and not all of their new starts have been wildly successful. But I don't think they've messed with the brews that put them on the map in the first place.

            1. re: Gary Soup
              Bryan Harrell

              Still, for some reason, Red Tail Ale is a lighter, simpler, blander version of the stuff I remember drinking at the Hopland pub in the late 1980s.
              But maybe it's just me.
              Any thoughts from anyone else?

              1. re: Bryan Harrell

                I agree with you. Red Tail used to be an excellent beer, but has been merely good since they expanded their production.

            2. re: Bryan Harrell

              That's the Kingfisher empire, right? I'd been wondering if or when the change would start showing up in the beer.

          2. North Coast and Lagunitas each make a wonderful IPA that goes great with mexican and italian food. I am not positive that North Coast makes bottles, but Lagunitas IPA is generally available.

            Do include a darker beer like the Sierra porter Gary suggested, or a stout by someone. A richer, darker brew is preferred by many beeries in the winter. Did I just say "beeries"?

            Gosh, I wish I could think of some of the good stouts i've had, but i'm still kinda new here and there are SO MANY beers made in northern california. Maybe it's an excuse to go to Ben n' Nicks tonight...

            3 Replies
            1. re: patrick

              Anchor's Liberty Ale is also an excellent IPA. I prefer it to their standard Steam beer. It's also a bit less aggressively hopped than Lagunitas' IPA, so might be more appealing to people with mainstream tastes. Anderson Valley Brewery in Mendocino also makes great beers. Hop Ottin IPA or Boont Amber would be good choices.

              1. re: RedRob
                Bryan Harrell

                Anchor's Liberty Ale is a total classic among the beers brewed on the West Coast. We got intense flavor, light (comparatively) body, and great hopping with a beautiful hop bouquet coming through.
                What sets Anchor Liberty Ale apart from many of the other strong pale ale (read IPA) beers is that it is quite delicious at a very wide range of serving temperatures. Have it ice cold and it's fabulous, serve it San Francisco Summer Cellar temperatures (and I know a lot of people keep it in their basements) and it is still fabulous. After all, the mark of a particularly well crafted beer is that it can taste well at practically any reasonable serving temperature.
                AND here is something that a lot of people don't know.
                ALL of Anchor's products are flash-pasteurized, which makes them store very well over a year or more when kept at cool storing temperatures. PLUS there should be absolutely no difference in the flavor of bottled and keg beers. Those who tell you that Anchor Steam is "so much better on tap" are beer poseurs. Mark my words.

              2. re: patrick

                Lagunitas Imperial Stout is killer. rich, chocolatey, creamy, beer-y. Yum. I would highly recommend this if you're looking for a local stout, Ruth.

              3. z
                Zach Georgopoulos

                If you decide to get some Anchor beer for ultra-local color, but don't want to be too mainstream, pick up some of Anchor's Libery Ale -- a better beer than the Steam, in my opinion. More substantial.

                Anderson Valley Brewing Co's Boont Amber is also very pleasant -- from Boonville, if that's local enough...

                3 Replies
                1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

                  I guess I should have read your post before replying...

                  1. re: RedRob
                    Melanie Wong

                    Consensus is a nice thing when it happens . . . (g)

                    1. re: RedRob
                      Zach Georgopoulos

                      No problemo -- always good to know there are like minded people about.

                  2. j
                    Judith Hurley

                    Somebody said Gordon Biersch was a chain . . . but the actual brewery is right here in San Jose, and I don't think they distribute too far afield. So whatever "chain" means in this context, I think it's worth recommending. The beer is good . . . draft is obviously better than bottle, maybe they could supply it that way. The Marzen is particularly nice.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Judith Hurley

                      I didn't intend to diss Gordon Biersch (I wouldn't have recommended it, otherwise). I was referring to the fact that that they brew and vend in multiple locations. But since they are all in the Bay Area, I assume that they are under the same QC. (Steelhead, by contrast, is based in Oregon and in effect is more like a franchise operation, since outlying sites have different master brewers and probably different sources of ingredients).

                      I agree that draft is better, but Ruth has already indicated she didn't want to deal with draft beer.

                      I buy the bottled Marzen often myself!

                      1. re: Gary Soup
                        Melanie Wong

                        While Gordon Biersch started in the Bay Area, it is quite far flung today - Honolulu, DC, Seattle, Las Vegas, etc. Not all in the Bay Area.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          YOW! Maybe I should retract my demurral. Is the bottling still done from the SJO mother tanks?

                          1. re: Gary Soup
                            Bryan Harrell

                            The idea is not how the beer is local or not local or chain or whatever.
                            The idea is whether or not the beer is decent.
                            Brewing is like making bread -- here today, gone tomorrow.
                            Forget the pedigree -- just drink the beer and comment.
                            For this, it will help if you have any clue how beer is made.
                            For starters, give up any parallel comparison with wine.
                            The saccharification is an entirely different process.

                            1. re: Bryan Harrell
                              Caitlin McGrath

                              However, the post this is all responding to asked specifically for locally-made beers available bottled.

                    2. A good contrast to the Sierra Nevada, which is quite a hoppy ale, would be a lager with some malt to it. The aforementioned Gordon Biersch marzen would be a nice local option.

                      And a wild card choice, if they bottle it: Marin Brewing's doppel weizen; it's a wheat ale, but big and strong (7% alcohol by volume). You'll have to decide just how much hospitality you want to provide.

                      By the way, for anyone interested, the link below is a useful and usually up-to-date list of Bay Area brew pubs.

                      Link: http://sfbrewpub.jasper.org/pubs.htm

                      1. Wow, I'm surprised people are into Gordon Biersch. I think their beer is very disappointing -- bottled or at the brewery(s).

                        What's wrong with Anchor Steam? Too obvious? It's great stuff, and very "san francisco".

                        St. Stan's in Modesto I think is some of the best beer in California. It's become difficult to find in stores in the last year or so.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: reggie

                          IPAs and all those "post-SierraNevada" pale ales from Northern California where they're all trying to out-hop each other ... yuck. That's soooo early 90's and I'm sick of it. Bitter bitter bitter with no balance. Definately not a social beer, certainly not in this weather/season.

                          I'd go with a pilsner (don't know any local ones) or an amber or a stout (so many local ones).

                          But getting an IPA -and- Sierra Pale would be all wrong.

                          1. re: reggie

                            I continue to find well-balanced and hoppy beers out there. Anderson Valley's Belks Bitter, an ESB, is a good example. And I'll second the earlier recommendation of the Lagunitas IPA. Then again, I'm kind of a hophead, so my bitterness tolerance may be on the high side. You're right, though: Sierra Nevada pale plus another hoppy ale would equal alpha acid overdose.

                            As for Gordon Biersch, I think they've done a good job of maintaining consistent quality while expanding. I've been a bit underwhelmed by the dunkel but enjoy the helles and the marzen (most American attempts I've sampled have been clumsy, nowhere close to the original except maybe in color). Part of the appeal of Gordon Biersch may be that it stands out, at least in this area, by virtue of specializing in German-style lagers.

                            I'm with you on St. Stan's. Well-made beers, and how many domestic brewers offer an alt? I used to see it in my neighborhood supermarket, but not for a while. Wonder if they came out on the short end of a distributor wrangle with Anheuser-Busch; that's been known to happen.