Other than my first beer of the day, which I'll get to in a sec, I spent the day celebrating breweries in San Diego, Calif. and Portland, Maine. And I did so on both sides of the Bay.
Not sure why I thought the AleSmith event @ City Beer started at noon, but it didn't start til 3. Oh well, three hours to kill surrounded by SF's most amazing bottle selection. In walked Jesse of Beer & Nosh fame, scooping up some Russian River Consecration and graciously sharing a glass of the official beer of SF Beer Week, Original Albion Ale. An easy drinking Pale Ale that tastes like history.
My friend Scott showed up and took Jesse's place at the bar (4 stools). Spying a Hitachino Nest beer new to me, Commemorative Ale (a.k.a. New Year Ale), brewed with a delicious sounding laundry list of vanilla bean, coriander, orange peel, nutmeg and cinnamon, this witbier-meets-Christmas ale didn't measure up, IMHO, to their line of beers. Luckily, the other bottle I shared with Scott--Hair of the Dog's Ruth, did. (I should note, it's named in honor of Alan Sprints's grandmother, Ruth. My grandmother Ruth has a bottle that I drank for her on her shelf.)
Three O'Clock High. $12 got us 5 AleSmith tasters--X (Pale Ale), YuleSmith, IPA, Wee Heavy, and the pappy of 'em all Speedway Stout. Sorry, traders, one-bottle limit.
It was my first time trying it, and regardless of the high ratings, I knew I'd love an imperial stout brewed with coffee then aged in bourbon barrels. I bought my one bottle as well as the Anvil ESB to commemorate my foray into homebrewing. AleSmith's owner/brewmaster, Peter Zien, was on hand to sign bottles. Cool guy.Afterward, I left while others were still in line to get in. I rendezvoused with Half Pint back at home base and she drove us to Oakland. At the Trappist, they had plenty of Allagash on tap including their collaboration with Belgium's De Struise Brewery, Fedelta. As with all Allagash beers I've ever had on tap, the lines are too cold so the beer improves immensely once it warms up. Half Pint and I shared Fedelta, our mutual favorite Curieux (see our post for The Session below), and one that I like to believe was named in my honor, Odyssey.
Allagash founder Rob Tod was on hand, as had a keg been on his hand (see below).
Sated and semi-schnockered, we hit Cato's Ale House in Oakland for some grub, capped by a half pint of Iron Springs Black Lager. There's no place like home.