I’m always in denial about the end of a vacation: I take a week to unpack my suitcase and longingly flip through my travel journal or photos every free moment, trying to make each quirky conversation or unique moment eternal.
I finally gave in to the many years of invitations to go stay with friends in San Francisco. With a list of musts from Marv Parker, a former San Francisco resident and the man behind Head for Beer, I boarded my plane for five days of unplanned, unmapped, unrivaled good times.
I wasted no time making my first of many incorrect bus choices: intending to go west to the Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant, I hopped on an east-bound bus. No worries. Spontaneity brought me to the Ferry Building, where I downed some of my favorite food, and then walked to the brilliantly named 21st Amendment Brewery. Jam packed before a Giants game began down the road at AT&T Park, 21st Amendment Brewery offered both indoor and outdoor serving areas and a long line of craft beers. Unfortunately, I could only find a small sliver of space at the indoor bar—just enough room for me to reach through two strangers and sip from a flight until I spotted an empty table.
My friends had raved about their watermelon beer, a popular summer seasonal, but I was one week too early for it and couldn’t sweet talk the bartender into procuring me a pre-launch sip. Instead, I enjoyed the spring seasonal—Sneak Attack—along with Gigantes IPA, MCA Stout, Dub Step and 5 South. Sneak Attack and the MCA Stout were my favorites
21st Amendment Brewery provided a valuable lesson: stay hydrated while drinking, especially if you’ve been walking for nearly 10 hours, it’s your first night in a new city and you still need to find the bus home in time for dinner. On the plus side, I got my best MUNI story from that night.
Day two was a deluge of deliciousness, starting with a sandwich from Bi-Rite Market and a beer at Dolores Park. This was one of my favorite moments of the vacation: sitting in the sun at the park, listening to the chatter of passersby as I finally realized I was free from the stress of home and work. The citrusy bite of Headland’s Groupe G Belgian RyePA was an excellent companion to this breezy day (check out this review for a great photo of the can’s label).
I set out on foot from the Mission to Valencia Street, stopping for treats at Tartine, Dandelion Chocolate and Craftsman and Wolves as well as a copy of Kerouac’s Dharma Bums from Dog Eared Books before cozying up with a beer at Monk’s Kettle. This was one of the first musts Marv mentioned, so I settled in for Moonlight Brewing Company’s Death & Taxes and a bit of reading. This rich malty beer would prove to be one of my favorites. I also tried Cellarmaker Brewing Company’s Batch 1 Porter, another favorite from the trip, before scurrying to my next adventure: Off the Grid.
You may recall my adoration of food trucks, so imagine how downright ecstatic I was to visit one of the city’s established food truck gatherings. Off the Grid at Fort Mason boasted an exciting collaboration of beer tents, trucks and live music: a dream come true! With Magnolia Brewery’s Blue Bell Bitter in hand, we joined the long lines of eager diners encircling every truck. The somewhat earthy, malty ESB went well with the rich Asian Fusion cuisine from KoJa Kitchen and Chairman Bao’s remarkable steamed buns.
Can you imagine having local beer tents at more Upstate events? This night left my full of great food and ideas.