Monday, June 16, 2008

San Francisco Roundup

San Francisco is one of my favorite places to visit. It never gets old, even the tourist traps! My wife and I have gone there for three consecutive springs and if we go back one more time, I think we're going to have to start calling it a yearly pilgrimage. We were there just long enough to work out the jet lag from the time change and now we're trying to work back to normal. Going there isn't too bad, we usually just stay up progressively later each night. And having your body clock tell you to get out of bed at 6 or 7 local time is a nice thing when you want to get a jump on the day. Coming back sucks: invariably there's some reason I'm forced to get up at a time that feels like 4 or 5am. Oh well, I can take it!

Going out to eat is always a treat in San Francisco. Not just because the food is fantastic and there's incredible variety, but the beer lists are almost completely different than the midwest-centric selections we're used to in Indy. Here's a list of beers I got to try for the first time out there:

Carmel Wheat (tap)
Rogue Chocolate Stout (cask)
Rogue Old Crustacean (tap)
Lagunitas Pale (bottle)
Pyramid Hefeweizen (tap)
Lagunitas IPA (bottle)
Trader Joe's Hefeweizen (bottle)
Russian River Pliny the Elder (tap)
Lagunitas Pils (tap)
Hoegaarden (tap)

We also spent a couple days up in Sonoma County doing wine tasting. If you ever get a chance to do this, I highly recommend it! The scenery is gorgeous and getting to taste wine right next to where the wine was crafted and the grapes were grown (possibly) is quite an experience. If you go to a big-name winery, you'll generally get big-name, flashy service in a room with a gorgeous view and perfectly manicured gardens. If you go to a smaller winery, you can run into some very interesting, energetic people doing the tastings. Some of these people may even be directly involved with the production of the wine, which makes them great sources of information. There are pluses and minuses to both kinds of wineries and we like to mix it up to get a little bit of both. Here's a list of places we were able to hit on this trip (about half new and half return visits, and about half big and half small wineries):

Gary Farrell
Alexander Valley
David Coffaro
Rosso & Bianco (Francis Coppola)
Clos du Bois
Rodney Strong

The bad news for wine aficionados is that many wineries in Sonoma took a hit from a frost this spring. Some described it as possibly the worst frost in 30-40 years. Hopefully things aren't that bad but they won't know fully for a while yet and the financial hit could be bad at harvest time. We'll keep our fingers crossed for now.

While we were up in Sonoma I also made a very brief stop at Russian River Brewing Company, picking up some bottles of Damnation, Supplication, Beatification, and Temptation. I knew they made some great beer out there, but I didn't realize until I got home that the last three in that list are currently #20, #23 and #31 on the Top Beers on Planet Earth list according to Beer Advocate. I also got to sample Pliny the Elder which is an absolutely phenomenal DIPA that checks in at #9 on that list. With a whopping seven beers on that list, you might say that Russian River knows what they're doing.

We checked a couple cases of beer and wine on the flight back to Indy, luckily skipping the new American Airlines baggage charges that apparently go into effect this week. Hopefully we'll make it back again next summer but for now we've got some great wine and beer to enjoy!


Erik Huntoon said...

Sounds awesome! I would really love to get out to that area and do a brewery and winery tour. One of these years. :-)

JSV said...

We gotta go beer shopping next time you're in Chicago. Many of those are available up here. Lagunitas and Rogue definitely.

rodney said...

We've got Rogue in Indy, you just don't normally see either of those varieties on tap.

That's pretty awesome that you were able to stop by Russian River. They're high up on my list of breweries that I wish I could try more of. We typically only sample their wares at GABF.

CorrND said...

Indy doesn't get Lagunitas but we do get Rogue down here. Those two Rogue beers on the list were actually from a special stop at a "Rogue Public House". I think there are only 5 or 6 of them, all on the west coast.

But I'm never turning down a beer shopping trip! Next time I'm in Chicago...

Matt said...

Man I cannot wait for my trip next month!

The Urbanophile said...

Lagunitas is money. I'm shocked to hear you can't get it in Indy.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you were "digging" the wine dig-b. Gives me hope for you hopheads ;)

Erik Huntoon said...

I have somewhat of a new tradition beer shopping in Chitown. Start of at Manny's Deli and get probably the best corned beef sandwhich on the planet, then walk across the street to the brand new Binney's that has a full sample bar and do some shopping. I just picked up some Lagunita's IPA there a couple weekends ago.. really wish we got that around here.

Greg said...

Weird, I just got back from San Francisco on monday.

I tried some fat tire while out there. It seemed to be all the rage.