Wednesday, February 20, 2008

2008 Anchor Trip: Part 2: Thirsty Bear -- Fail

Sigh... I remember about a decade back when Thirsty Bear was a decent little brewpub. Sure, the place was still loaded with yuppie scumbags and they seemed a bit more concerned with their tapas than beer taps, but it was a good place to go and grab a pint after work and an even better place to grab a keg from when you were tossing a party. The only beer I remember from 1997 was a pale ale -- typical American brewpub fare to be sure. However it was well made and quite good.

At some point in time Thirsty Bear has gone organic on us. Too bad, for as nice an idea as that is (hippie), organic beer means you are working with inferior malt and hops. The beer just ain't going to taste that good. Think sulfates and wine. Combine less than ideal ingredients with less than stellar techniques and you have a recipe for blah. Or, in the case of Thirsty Bear, several recipes.

Dr. Drew reserved the upstairs room for the Falcons, but only about 25 of us showed up. It was a last minute deal and most other people did their own thing or went to Magnolias. Still, we were there to drink (at least I was) so I had to try everything.

The first red light was their "Valencia Wheat." Turned out it was a Wit. Only because they have no faith in the beer-intelligence of their patrons do they cynically call it a wheat. It should be pointed out that they have no problem with an item on their dinner menu called, "Kokotxas." Worse than purposely mislabeling a beer is serving a bad one. This supposed Wit was sharp, tart, the color of Mountain Dew and about as far from a Wit as soda water is from Hoegaarden.

They also had a beer on called, "Golden Vanilla" -- it's a blond described as "light and smooth in taste" that for some reason has been infused with Vanilla Beans. I think that some reason is absurd levels of Diacetyl. In fact, most of the Thirsty Bear beers seemed to be suffering from big bunches of butter flavor. We did mix in one part Vanilla beer to two parts nitro-tap Stout, but... it didn't really help. They had a less than hoppy butter-balled IPA and an English ESB on a nitro tap... That one really sucked. So we left.

To 21st Amendment!!! Oh man, did that save the night. Every Falcons' frown immediately got turned upside down. Who am I kidding? We weren't just smiling, we were downright drooling. Turns out it's strong beer month in San Francisco (someone forgot to tell Thirsty Bear) and 21A had big beer flowing out their wazoo.

Jimmy and Earnesto Smiling at 21 Amendment

I sampled a 9% Belgian brewed in honor of Michael Jackson called "Beer Hunter." A big-ass Impy stout with a little too much espresso and a 10% watermelon wheat wine that is a punched of version of their regular watermelon beer (amazingly, you could taste the watermelon -- Drew was saying it takes 500 pounds of melon for their "normal" offering).

But I'm really here to talk about Hop Crisis. 21A whipped up a mother of a high gravity DIPA that weighs in at a liver-busting 11.8% abv. More over, it smells and tastes absolutely delicious. Everyone we came with had at least one glass. I had two. Some had more. It just ruled, big time. I want more. Better than Pliny the Younger. I know, I know. But it is.

Here's me after two glasses of Hop Crisis and that big espresso Stout.

Nuff said.

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