Hungover is the new normal, four days into SF Beer Week. The Bay Area blowout of craft beer events and parties kicked off last Friday at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where 30 Northern California breweries poured their rare and lesser-known beers. (Pictured: Beer from Devil's Canyon out of Belmont, California.) I got a chance to try a bunch of stuff I had never tasted before. All of these beers will be available during the rest of Beer Week, along with plenty of cool events, tastings, dinners, and more. Here are some highlights.
• Urban Peoples' Common Lager and Burning Oak Black Lager from Linden Street Brewery, a brand new outfit in Oakland, and the first production brewery in the city since 1959. The brewery is currently only producing these two old-timey pre-Prohibition-style beers that would have been made when Oakland last had a thriving brewing scene.
• Golden Doom, from 21st Amendment Brewery. A deceptively strong, approachable golden ale that made you want to drink more and more, but threatened to knock you on your ass. San Francisco's 21st Amendment is becoming famous nationally, and not only for its quirky canned beers, like Watermelon Wheat. I've been slow to fall in love with its beers, probably because the brewpub is totally lacking in ambience. But now I am officially smitten!
• Old Thunderpussy Barleywine, Four Winds Quadrupel, and Delilah Jones Rye, all from Magnolia Brewery of San Francisco. Magnolia showed spunk for only pouring strong beers (meaning beers over 8.5 percent ABV). For years, February has been Magnolia and 21st Amendment's official Strong Beer Month, during which both brewpubs offer six strong beers on tap, and you try to fill up a punch card by sampling them all. All three of these beers were well-balanced, aromatic, and totally poetic.
• Imperial Common, a collaborative brew created by members of the San Francisco Brewers Guild. The copper-colored, 10 percent ABV lager was aged in St. George Spirits whiskey barrels. Herbal, strong, fresh, and strangely comfy; drinking it felt like hanging out on your living room couch with your best friends smoking weed. (I wasn't the only one to make this analogy, either—it was the consensus.)
Additionally, Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream in the Mission District of San Francisco is serving many of these beers, in ice cream form, all week. You can get a $4.50 flight of four different beer scoops. If they still have it, the ice cream version of Magnolia's Smokestack Lightning Imperial Stout is out of this world.
Image by Galen Krumel