San Francisco and Lake Tahoe Excursion

1 May

Having begun my California trip with ~10 Anchor tasters by noon, it was time to explore San Francisco. A hilly and lovely walk from Potrero Hill brought me to The Mission where goal #1 was to put some food in my beer filled belly. My destination was Mission Chinese, but sadly it was closed for lunch (I would return there later in my trip). Fortunately we have smartphones with useful apps this day in age, so Yelp was able to lead me to the yummy Asian food I was craving. I made my way to The Spice Jar and ordered the enticing Zen Noodle Soup with its coconut based sambal broth and medley of seafood. The broth was warm and slightly spicy and bursting with great flavors, and the liquid helped to soak up my morning beering. Renewed by the seafood soup, I walked to a park next to the Potrero Skatepark where I could kill some time before Almanac opened. It was a beautiful and sunny day in SF, and I read my book on a hill overlooking the local skaters tearing it up on the concrete terrain. When Almanac opened its doors for the day, I followed shortly thereafter full of great beer tasting anticipation. Until recently, Almanac did not have a tasting room, but they opened up this lovely facility in January of this year. I took up residence at the bar and began my beerings with a Galaxy Low Rider which proved to be a very solid hazy Galaxy hopped session IPA.

That would prove to be my only full pour at Almanac. I was both impressed and enticed by their list of barrel aged beers, and I quickly determined that I could reasonably make my way through all 13 via 2 oz. tasting pours. I’ve always been a huge fan of the sour beers that Almanac produces, so having a baker’s dozen of barrel aged goodies at my disposal was a drinking opportunity I was not going to pass up. Standouts included the Nectarine Cobbler (who knew sour dessert beer was a thing?), the fruited sours Farmer’s Reserve Raspberry, Blackberry, and Blueberry, the red wine Flander’s Red hybrid Grand Cru Red, and the dark and alluring barrel aged stout Grab Some Oak. There was not a not-very-good beer in the bunch, and I made sure to buy a mixed 6-pack of beers to go before heading out.

2 oz of barrel aged goodness

My next destination was meeting my friend at SFO to pick up a rental car for the weekend. A short but not cheap BART ride took me to the airport, and we made our way back to Potrero Hill to drop off the car and continue our Wednesday beerventure. No San Francisco beer trip is complete without a trip to Cellarmaker, and that is exactly where we set our beer compass. In case you’re not familiar with Cellarmaker, here’s a quick primer. They’re best known for making super hazy IPAs that range from in your face West Coast to bordering on NE IPA styles. Their stouts are nothing to be scoffed at themselves. Two of my high school friends met up with us, and I started off with an Orange Julian, a super hazy orange juice like IPA. I would say this is a defining characteristic of Cellarmaker. What followed were more delicious beers including the Double Dobis DIPA, the smoky Imperial Coffee & Cigarettes, and the 14.7% Evil Twin collaboration hazelnut stout Evil Spread. Considering I hadn’t eaten since a french fry snack at Almanac, a late night munch was in order. Our group walked to Box Kitchen where we downed some greasy grub that hit the spot. Anticipating an early drive to Tahoe in the morning, it was time to call it a night.

The trek to Tahoe for some spring time skiing began early in the morning. A quick geography refresher reminded me that the city of Truckee was close to Lake Tahoe, and the FiftyFifty brewery was located in Truckee. After a beautiful ride through the redwoods and mountains, we arrived to a welcoming site.

I was very familiar with FiftyFifty’s barrel aged Eclipse series, but I was curious to check out what else they offered. I chose to go the flight route, and I started off with five of their hoppy offerings. A solid Highway 267 Session IPA, Landslide Double IPA, and Darkslide Black IPA were the highlights.

I followed this up with a flight of their darker brews, and this is where FiftyFifty really shines. The Chocolate Wit was a little too weird for me, but the Donner Party Porter, Roundabout Oatmeal Stout, Totality Imperial Stout, and Chocolate Milk Stout were all solid to great beers. A taste of my friend’s 2016 Eclipse – Coffee was a fitting cap on my tastings. Seeing as one cannot wholly sustain oneself on beer alone, we opted to eat a quite tasty pizza, and I caught a heavenly photo of my friend.

A beautiful drive around Lake Tahoe brought us to Heavenly Ski Resort, and I was fully pumped to hit the slopes. The mountain had had over 640” (!!!) of snow for the season, and the mid-April conditions were amazingly wonderful. I got in a few hours of gnar shredding, and I also basked in some incredible views.

Thursday night gave us the opportunity to check out the city of South Lake Tahoe, and we chose to dine at The Naked Fish. A seat at the sushi bar allowed us to interact with the sushi chef and take his recommendations on what we should eat. We also got hooked up with some free rolls which is never a bad thing. The rest of the night we chilled at our massive rental house while drinking some beer and playing some pool.

Friday would be our big ski day. We had been joined by another friend, and he graciously brought along three onesies for the crew to wear. I chose the Pokemon onesie which instantly made me a big hit with all kids (and many adults) on the mountain.

We skied all day, making sure to save some time for the requisite Founder’s All Day IPA lift beer and snow beer on the side of the ski runs.

Back at our rental house, we defrosted in the hot tub. A weather appropriate chili was cooked up, and I replenished my tired body with the warm goodness. More brewskis were cracked, and I wasn’t going to complain about the Cellarmaker growler we had brought along.

On Saturday we were joined by three more friends, and we got a leisurely start to skiing. The day on the slopes proved to be pretty chill as I was content to limit my runs and save some of my energy for later. In the evening we went to Himmel Haus to indulge in some authentic German food and beer. My first beer choice was the always delicious Paulaner Hefeweizen, and it was delivered in a monstrous 1L stein.

Not a small beer

For my entree, I ordered Sauerbratten which was beef shoulder that had been marinated in red wine and herbs for a minimum of seven days. As one may guess, it was delightfully tender and flavorful, and I found myself licking the plate clean of the pan sauce gravy which accompanied it. A very full stomach ensured I was fat and happy, and the collective food coma of our group led to an uneventful rest of our night.

Sunday had arrived, and it was time to head back into the city. I had experienced Tahoe for the first time, and I had also skied my last day of the season. It was a great time with some old and some new friends, and I was ready for a beerventure in the East Bay…

Britt Antley

Britt is a native Texan, lived in Houston for 12 years, and loves his current life in the Mile High City (although his liver is having second thoughts). His liver is also not nearly as proud of his 14,000+ Untappd uniques as he is. Stupid liver. He loves flavorful complex beers from Hazy IPAs to Wild Ales to barrel aged Stouts, but ultimately he has vowed to some day be buried with a 4-pack of Bierstadt Slow Pour Pils.