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Good local beer?

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I have friends coming in from out of town and want to stock the fridge with a variety of good local brews. Any suggestions?

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  1. Well, you can't get more local than Anchor Steam.

    The folks at City Beer Store may be able to help: http://www.citybeerstore.com/

    1. Local to the Bay Area or to Northern California?

      1. Speakeasy Brewery is a San Francisco brewery (Hunters Point). Even better than stocking the fridge, take them to the brewery. They are open to the public Fridays between 4 and 8pm with beer on tap and brewery tours. I don't know if they sell bottles out of the brewery, but you can find Speakeasy bottles lots of places in the Bay Area. www.goodbeer.com for more info.

        1. I love to make lists while drinking a nice Russian Imperial Stout from Avery. As previously mentioned, hit up City Beer for many of these choices. Bevmo on Van Ness also has a lot of these. From the North heading South:
          Sierra Nevada (Bigfoot, Celebration, Harvest Ale)
          North Coast (Old Rasputin, Old Stock Ale, Brother Thelonius)
          Bear Republic (Racer 5, Hop Rod Rye)
          Russian River (Damnation, Salvation, Perdition, Redemption, Supplication, Beatification, Temptation)
          Lagunitas (Maximus, Old Gnarleywine, Hop Stoopid, IPA, Imperial Stout)
          Moylans (Moylander, Hopsickle, Kiltlifter, Dragoons Irish Stout)
          Marin Brewing (White Knuckle, Dipsea Barleywine, Hefe Doppelweisen)
          Anchor (Steam, Liberty, Old Foghorn)
          Speakeasy (Double Daddy)
          You should have a nice fridge between those two places. Cheers!

          5 Replies
          1. re: pininex

            Agree with most of the above, plus Drake's IPA and Amber.

            1. re: pininex

              That list includes most of the places I'd mention except:

              Mad River, Arcata (Steelhead IPA, not to be confused with Steelhead Brewing in Burlingame)

              Anderson Valley Brewing, Boonville (Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout)

              Sierra Nevada and to a lesser extent Anchor are relatively high production and I frequently find they haven't been stored as well as they should.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Agree that Sierra Nevada and Anchor aren't in the same league as the others - I call them the Sam Adams of Ca. I drink them when the only other things available are Bud, Coors, and MGD, but I never order them when a menu features good microwbrew.

              2. re: pininex

                I'm not sure how far South your list goes, but I am a huge fan of Stone Brewing Co. down in SoCal. I think they're best known for their Arrogant Bastard Ale, but their IPA is probably my favorite beer.


                1. re: pininex

                  I recommend the Russian River selections, which are quite tasty and hard to find elsewhere.

                2. If you like pilsner, Trumer Pils is quite good.Very warm weather appropriate. We like most North Coast brews,Russian River, most anything you get around here beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: WCchopper

                    Trumer Pils is my fave. Brewed in Berkeley. Best pilsner I've had. Surprisingly simple for a NorCal brew.

                  2. EJ Phair's Shorty's Revenge is rich and tasty. Although I don't know where it's available bottled.......

                    1. Green Flash West Coast IPA is probably the best IPA I have had in quite some time. Classic west coast style - definitely something to share with out-of-towners. Especially if they have only had east coast IPAs.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: paternite

                        I've not drunk much of their product, but Green Flash's "Le Freak" is one of the most unique and tasty brews I've had. It's an imperial IPA combined with a Belgian Trippel. Yowzah.

                      2. Moonlight is one of the consistently tastiest local brewers but doesn't put
                        its beer into bottles. You'll need to find a place that's got it on tap. In the
                        city, I've had it in the last year at the Toronado, Jacks (or whatever it's called
                        now, at the corner of 16th and Guerrero), and Amnesia. East bay it's always at
                        both Lanesplitters, Jupiter, Barclays.

                        The Chronicle did a nice, still-accurate story about Moonlight a few years back:

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                          If only Brian bottled. Moonlight, Death, Twist, Homegrown, Reality, Bombay...guess a local barkeep will have to pour one for me. Life could be worse.

                          1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                            The Reality Czech is MY alltime favorite beer. Zeitgeist in SF also has a tap handle for Moonlight.

                          2. I personally love Anderson Valley and Anchor (all styes).

                            Breweries not yet mentioned above are Farmhouse (Gilroy) and Stanislaus (Modesto).

                            1. Thirsty Bear has tapas, some pretty good. Being a brewery, beer's excellent. Unusual for a bewery, they have excellent fresh tea - I do mean fresh.

                              Possible Flamenco on Sunday - call to confirm: http://www.thirstybear.com/

                              1. microbrews: Speakeasy, very nice amber and IPA (big daddy) and double Ipa. 21st amendment, south of market, near the park, great especially before a giants game. Drakes in San Leandro. thirsty bear in sf. Both Drakes and Speakeasy pour on friday evenings. If you're stocking your fridge, check out bev and more, which carries speakeasy, drakes, lagounitas, and many more. For the best on tap selection (and a real SF atmosphere), take them to toronado in the haight.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: chuckl

                                  I'd avoid 21st Amendment before or after a Giants home game.

                                    1. re: chuckl

                                      I would have to guess it is about the pre and post game crowds. Having already gone to two games this year, the crowds have dissipated because a certain player is no longer there hitting home runs. You really can not beat their IPA and if available, the Myers Scotch Ale.

                                      1. re: pininex

                                        it always looks crowded at the door, but before games they are usually pouring in the back, and there's often a seat upstairs. Usually no waiting for tables, either. Agree with the Myers Scotch Ale, I had one last time i was there. The double belgians they had last year were wicked too. Thanks to 21st, i've never paid for beer in the park

                                        1. re: chuckl

                                          I am going to games on 6/2 and 6/3 and wanted to check out 21st. If I get there early, (4-5), do you think I would have a problem getting a table? More importantly, any recs on what to order?

                                          1. re: JRSD

                                            Probably not busy until 5. The burgers are decent.

                                      2. re: chuckl

                                        If it's not crowded, no problem, but to me the whole neighborhood is best avoided on home game days.

                                  1. I'd recommend the Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' IPA. If you like it hoppy, you'll love it. Also, if you've never been to the Sierra Nevada brewery/pub/restaurant/concert room in Chico, it's the mecca for beer in Nor Cal. They serve probably 15 fresh beers on tap in the pub for about $2 a pint - including two versions of their famous Pale Ale. You can tour the brewery too. Very cool place. Spending a night in Chico ain't bad either, if you like bars in general.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Hoss

                                      Anderson Valley's beers are consistently interesting. Last winter's Winter Solstice Ale was astounding. I doubt you can still find it around, but if you see any on some dusty back shelf somewhere, grab it. The dominant flavor is vanilla. Which is as weird as you might think, but very tasty.

                                      Anderson Valley's annual beerfest up in Boonville is this Saturday.
                                      Good chance to sample pretty much every local microbrewery.

                                    2. Magnolia on Haight pours into jugs I think, it's pretty local. I second or third Speakeasy and I know they sell bottles at the brewery on Friday.
                                      I'm loving Sierra Nevada Porter this month, but that's not local.
                                      My favorite pale ale from the bay area is Mt. Tam pale from Marin brewing co. The other beers there I mostly do not like.
                                      Whole foods on California has a bunch of cool tasty beers, but they're not focused on local.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Neilo

                                        I will second the Mt. Tam Pale Ale rec.

                                      2. Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma has very tasty selections, especially their Maximus, Hairy Eyeball, and Frank Zappa lines.

                                        1. I love this thread, and it is amazing that I believe ALL the opinions presented here are valid.
                                          Of the many great brewers and beer-folks here, there are four that really stand out in my mind.

                                          Anchor Steam -- Back in 1973, who would imagine an American-made beer worth seeking out? Followed several years later by a beer I still consider pure genius, Liberty Ale. THANK YOU Fritz Maytag, for leading the pack and maintaining an old-world business philosophy well into the 2000s.

                                          Bruce Paton -- the only non-brewer who has done more for craft beer than most brewers. HIs beer dinners continue to contribute to the quality of my life.

                                          Trumer Pils -- Their philosophy of "Import the brewery, not the beer" is ahead of its time. Of COURSE we don't need to bring a product that is mostly water halfway around the world; that just makes a carbon footprint bigger than Hair of the Dog Fred (easily one of my favorite BIG beers beause HOTD is one of my favorite breweries, and namesake Fred Eckhardt is easily one of my favorite beer writers AND one of my favorite people at the same time. Trumer, you are VERY WELCOME in California, particularly when I am in the mood for a Pils with both integrity and drinkability.

                                          And, last but the most, Brian Hunt.\ and his Moonlight Brewery. Talent does what it can, but Genius does what it must. I had no idea he was from Sacramento; so am I and it is a very good place to be FROM.

                                          1. No one seems to have mentioned Gordon Biersch.
                                            What do you all think?

                                            And can anyone confirm my hunch that the various Trader Joe's house label beers are produced in the Biersch brewery? If this is so, is the TJ line totally separate from GB's line, or is there some overlap and name-changing?

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Janko

                                              Chow seems to share your hunch: http://www.chow.com/stories/10947

                                              My general feeling about GB is they're competent, uninteresting, drinkable,
                                              and overall a bit too sweet. Too many better alternatives around, unless you
                                              happen to be in their restaurant.

                                              1. re: Janko

                                                I've had some good special brews from Gordon Biersch at various beer-geek events but their regular everyday brews aren't worth a detour.

                                                They have branches at 30 cities all around the country so probably of less interest to a visitor.

                                              2. Surprised not to see Bison brewery on here (Berkeley) Great IPA & Chocolate Stout
                                                (I know you can find it at Elephant Pharmacy, Berkeley bowl, and I am sure some others

                                                Also surprised not to see Lost Coast Brewing Co. (Eureka) My Fav brown ale-->Downtown Brown also a great IPA--> Indica pale ale
                                                (you can get this stuff anywhere,; even Safeway has it now)

                                                Also, though it is very hard to find is Six rivers brewing Co. (arcata) great brews

                                                And I definitely agree with everyone who mentioned Bear Republic (Racer 5), Anderson Valley (Hop Ottin' IPA & Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout<-- great just slightly chilled)

                                                Also right now Lagunitas has their Gnarly wine in pint bottles and I liked it a lot.

                                                (and I know some of these last one's were mentioned before, I just figured I would re-assert their tasty-ness)

                                                One more place to check out if you are going to hit up the bars is Tripple Rock (I'd go there over Jupiter's, unless you want a full meal)

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: mandala12

                                                  Bison Brewing no longer exists as a local brewery. The beer sold under that label is made at Butte Creek Brewing in Chico.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    Bummer! though I guess it could still be local (kinda, but not really)

                                                    I suppose if I read the bottles I would've seen that!

                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                      I thought Butte Creek was a microwashed branding exercise of Budweiser, but I can't find much via google. it's owned by Golden West Brewing Company of Chico, CA. Not local, and I really didn't care for the taste I had.

                                                      1. re: SteveG

                                                        Yea, I definitely don't like Butte Creek, but they are apparently brewing and bottling Bison which is great (IMHO), and definitely not local (but started in Berkeley), I was just kind of joking because this started as a local list and ended up just being more of a norcal list (which they do fit that bill). I had not heard that about the sub of Bud though, I would be interested to find out for sure.

                                                        1. re: mandala12

                                                          Update: Bison brewery does still exist and there office still is in Berkeley, they have just worked out a deal with Butte Creek to rent out space, the brew master goes up once week to do the brewing (apparently they were forced out of their Telegraph location by the city) there are details on their weebsite if your interested

                                                        2. re: SteveG

                                                          Golden West Brewing is a publicly-traded company. No connection with Anheuser-Busch.