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10/98 – 8/98

[Janet] 10/4/98
If you look at the shelf full of glasses behind the bar at the Toronado, you might notice that there is a special group of glasses off to the side in their own little area of the glasses shelf. These are the regulars' own pint glasses, and each of them has some kind of cool and individual design on them. At this point in our Regular Status at the Toronado, we could probably bring in our own glasses as well, but we haven't found any unique enough ones yet. I order Guinness a great deal of the time, and one day I noticed that I was getting my Guinness in an actual rounded Guinness glass instead of a plain 'ole pint glass. I know that they don't have any glasses like that, so I felt kind of honored that I was most likely being blessed with a Regular's glass. There's one other rounded-type glass, shaped kind of like the Guinness one, but with the Brains Brewery logo on it, the very last remaining one left over from Brains night a few months ago. The first Guinness I got last night came in the Brains glass, the second in the Guinness glass. When Ian brought the second one to me, he mentioned that he had made a faux pas by letting me drink out of the Brains glass, as that was Johnny's (bartender of the blonde hair&#41 personal drinking glass, which must not be given out at any time. Whoops, but geez, how many people will ever have that chance?

[Avery] 10/2/98
This afternoon, I started to feel a longing. It had been too long since I had been to the Toronado… almost two weeks to be exact. So, since I got out of work a little early, I decided to head over to the Toronado for a few beers while waiting for Janet to get out of work.

Though it's been a long time since I've been to the Toronado, it's been even longer since I have been to the Toronado at Happy Hour… and even longer than that since I've been to the Toronado during Happy Hour while Pauly was working there. Pauly transcends scowly and has ventured into the territory of surly. I guess that's why I like him so.

Anyway, I sit down and order up a Mendocino Brewing Company Red Tail Ale, which is cask conditioned and on hand pump. If you've never had a beer on hand pump, you're missing out on something truly amazing. Beers on hand pump aren't carbonated, and they're served at cellar temperature (55 degrees&#41. Since the beers are warmish, the aromas and tastes are fully released… and since they aren't fizzy from the carbonation, they don't fill you up as fast as a normal beer.

About a third of the way through the beer, this drugged out hippie guy wanders into the bar, sits down and starts to ask Pauly for a beer. Pauly immediately tells him to leave, reminding him that he has the right to refuse service to anyone. The guy starts to complain, which lasts for a few seconds… because the bouncer puts his meathook of a hand on his shoulder and says "He asked you to leave… so leave." He left promptly, babbling something about the second son of God. I'm still not sure if he was calling himself the second coming of the messiah, or of in his drugged out state he was confusing Pauly (with his long, curly, black hair&#41 with Jesus. Either way he was gone.

As the story goes, Mister Hippie came in at 3:30ish, right before Pauly got on shift. When Pauly started the shift, he noticed Mr. Hippie's glass was empty. So, as all bartenders do, Pauly asked if he wanted another beer. Here 's Pauly's recollection of the conversation:

  • Pauly: Need another beer?
  • Hippie: Yeah.
  • Pauly: What 'cha drinking?
  • Hippie: (while vaguely pointing to the row of about 30 tap handles&#41 One of those
  • Pauly: Which one?
  • Hippie: (pointing more fervently at the tap handles&#41 That one you asshole.

Ok. Now, you never want to piss off the bartender. However, Pauly had just started the shift and decided to let it roll off his back.

  • Pauly: (getting a little steamed&#41 Which one are you drinking?
  • Guy sitting near Hippie: I think he's drinking the Hoppy Face IPA
  • Hippie: Yeah.

So Mr. Hippie gets his Hoppy Face, and proceeds to spend the next hour "sissy-sipping" at his beer, taking up a valuable seat at the bar. He finishes his beer, and leaves… no tip. He left a few minutes before I got there. I guess when Mr. Hippie decided to show up again, Pauly just didn't want to deal with him anymore. Remember the California State Law: We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.

The afternoon was rounded out with a great Rogue Brutal Bitter, which had an amazing grainy aroma and a crisp-sharp taste and a pint of this year's batch of Anderson Valley Brewing Company Oktoberfest. On Octoberfest news… this Wednesday is a Spaten sponsored Octoberfest at the Toronado. Spaten has sponsored the last three Octoberfest celebrations at the Toronado… which means an oompah band, sausages and sauerkraut. Guess I'll have to tell the office that I'll be working from home on Thursday.

[Avery] 9/30/98
Different cities… different bars… different beers. Since Janet and I went to Seattle last weekend, we had an opportunity to go to a number of new bars and drink some beers that we haven't ever had before. Here's our bar-by-bar breakdown.

Saturday, 9/26/98. Elysian @ Gameworks
As Janet wrote in her Smirk, when we were in Seattle, we spent a heckuva lot of time at Gameworks. Gameworks is one of Sega's new mega-arcades, fully equipped with Virtual Reality games, old arcade games like Pac Man and Asteroids, a pool-room and a branch of the Elysian Brewery. Dave Keene, the owner of the Toronado recommended that we stop in at Elysian… so when we found out that there was a branch of Elysian upstairs, we knew that after a strenuous hour of video games that a beer would be perfect.
The Elysian satellite bar had 6 of Elysian's beers on tap, including an excellent IPA and a very chocolatey Porter. Janet had the Pilsner, which she found a little bitter, but drinkable. The idea of putting a bar in an arcade makes so much sense to me, as what goes better with a video game or twelve than a beer?

Saturday, 9/26/98. Pike Brewing Company
When Janet and I were walking around after playing video games, we stumbled upon the Pike Place Public Market. You know.. the place with the fish throwers that's shown on any TV show or movie that is set is Seattle. Though the fish-flingers seemed intriguing, the idea of going to the legendary Liberty Malt Supply is what was keeping me going. Liberty Malt Supply is Mecca for homebrewers and beer lovers. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovations. So, I decided to console myself at the Pike Brewing Company. Pike, one of the first Seattle micro-breweries looks like a sports bar, with flat hair-styled neo-jocks and their little blonde girl friends looking at the list of beers and asking for a Budweiser. It doesn't have any of the charm that I expected. The beer was unbalanced. The Pike Kiltlifter Scotch Ale was a poor shadow of Moylan's Kiltlifter… which I consider the benchmark of Scotch Ales. The Golden Ale, which Janet got was over-hopped, unbalanced, and in the end, it was undrinkable. Janet and I together could barely finish it.

Sunday, 9/27/98. Elysian
Since we had such good luck at the Elysian in Gameworks, we decided to head over to Capitol Hill, where the brewery/brew pub for Elysian is. The bar was a little bright and airy for my taste, but the beer selection was outstanding. They offered 10 or so beers, including an amazingly sour Berliner Weisse and a great Donnerfest Lager. The highlight of the night was the Golden Fleece Ale that Janet ordered. The Golden Fleece was mildly hopped, with a strong caramel nose… the perfect Golden Ale.

Sunday, 9/27/98. Elysian @ Gameworks
Video games? Good. Beer after video games. Very good. Elysian beer after video games? Perfection. Janet had a Golden Fleece and I had another one of those fantastic IPAs.

I don't know if the bar scene is Seattle is very strong… I certainly didn't find a bar to fall in love with. But… the beer was good (aside from that Pike Kiltlifter&#41, so there is some potential. Maybe next time I'll have better luck finding a dark beer hall that makes me want to stay until last call.

[Avery] 9/24/98
Last night was the Stone Brewing night at the Toronado. Dave's (the owner&#41 special beer nights usually attract the Who's Who in the California Beer World. Celebrator Beer News correspondent Nico Freecia was there, along with the brewers from Stone, Speakeasy, Moylan's and Russian River. The creators of the Real Beer pages were there too. It was a perfect way to spend an early evening hour!
Anyway, I started off with a Stone Arrogant Bastard, and them moved to their Anniversary IPA. Since I was still in a hoppy mood, I ordered a Lagunitas Maximus, but halfway through it decided to trade it for the last half of Janet's Anniversary IPA. Hopefully Dave will be able to keep the Arrogant Bastard on tap for a while… if not, he always keeps a case of it in the fridge for Arrogant Bastard Beer Drinkers like me.

[Avery] 9/20/98
Earlier this week, I sent out an email to some friends (like Jocelyn, Carlos, Shawn and Toshi, who are all listed on the Links page&#41, and to Drue and Derek (Fray, Hey Geek Girl, etc… all listed on the Links page&#41 letting them all know that Janet and I were planning to be at the Toronado on Saturday and invited them come and have a beer with us. Well, not everyone showed up, but Janet, Jocelyn and I were there for the whole night (9pm to 2am&#41. Jordan, another boxer from Kings Gym in Oakland showed up for a couple of hours in the beginning and Shawn showed up for the last two hours or so.
Going out drinking with a bunch of people is extremely different from when Janet and I go by ourselves. Don't get me wrong, drinking with friends is great… but the paternal instincts kick in near the end of the night. You get concerned that the people driving home might not be in the best condition to drive ("Jocelyn, here's our address just in case you feel like you can't make it home…&#41, or that people aren't having a good time (Jordan, need a refill on that cider? No? Are you sure?&#41, or that you weren't a good enough host (Shawn, let me get you another root beer there…&#41. That, and when we go with a group, I feel like we end up ignoring the bartenders… which we hate to do. But, we only go drinking with friends every couple of weeks, so I guess the bartenders can do without our company every once in a while :&#41
Aah, the bartenders. Last Saturday, Johnny had the day off so it was a Robert-Ian shift. So this week, when we saw Ian there by himself, I asked him where Johnny was. He said that Johnny was at the other bar he bartends at (El Bobo in the South of Market area&#41… so typical bitter me, says "Oh suuuuure he's running late at his other job"… not the brightest thing to say when Johnny's girlfriend is sitting next to us. But I resolved not to stick my foot back in my mouth for the rest of the night and made sure to greet Johnny with a warm "Hey, I was getting worried that we weren't going to see ya tonight…" Damage was controlled.
The conversation was fun during the night. Jocelyn regaled us with her stories of professional ice-skaters hitting on her, Shawn proved that he could down a liter of liquids faster than me, and we got a surprise visit from Vagabond Jim… oh, and a vagrant named Mitchell almost caused a scene. When last call was announced by Johnny, it didn't felt like we had been there for more than a few hours, not the five hours that it actually was!
Beers Consumed: 2 Boont Ambers, a Mendocino Red Tail on Cask pump, a Belk's Bitter and a Hop Ottin IPA Geez, could I have been any more boring? All of the beers (aside from the Red Tail&#41 were from Anderson Valley Brewing… I just wasn't in the mood to experiment.
Coming Soon: This Wednesday night, a Stone Brewing night at the Toronado (makers of Arrogant Bastard Pale Ale&#41

[Janet] 9/20/98
We had asked Jocelyn whether she had invited anyone to meet her at the Toronado, and she said that she had indeed told a few people that they could "stop by," so when a guy approached her/us we just thought it was someone she knew. He was kind of hippie-ish looking, with long wavy hair and a big backpack. He came over and said, "My name is Mitchell, but some people call me Willow (all weirdly accentuated&#41. So, call me Willow." He said this all creepy-like, in a drugged sort of way. He didn't remember Jocelyn's name, which I thought was kind of weird, but whatever. He started to ask the bartender Ian if they had any "shots" (Bad Move #1&#41, and then tried to ask for a beer. Ian interrupted him and asked "Do you have any money? 'Cuz I remember you just hittin' me up for change outside a little while ago." (Bad Move #2&#41 Jocelyn was saying that she would buy Mitchell/Willow a beer, the bartenders were visibly peeved at this Willow person, and at this point I was kind of staring into my 2nd or 3rd Guinness, thinking, who the hell is this guy? And why would Jocelyn know him? Then it hit me: Jocelyn must have just met this guy outside when she went to get something to eat earlier. This turned out to be true. He was just a panhandler. "Now you have something to write about" she said.     

[Avery] 9/19/98
Yesterday, I had a God-awful 6am conference call that lasted for four hours. That's bad. However, due to the fact that I had to get up so early, they let me work from home. That's good. Home, of course, is less than a block away from Rosamunde and the Toronado. That's really, really good.
So, after I finished up my work for the day, it was time to head to the Toronado for a few beers. There's something very comfortable about going to the Toronado during the afternoon… it's pretty deserted: a couple of regulars and the delivery people bring that night's kegs are there. It's nice, the glasses are really clean, the jukebox is off, people are reading the newspaper… some of us are having a late lunch. It just feels like what I thought a neighborhood bar would feel like when I was a kid.
Anyway, Jennifer was on shift… she was talking about her new puppy and David (the owner&#41 was there doing setup for the night and complaining about a sunburn he got while at a friend's wedding in Hawaii. Since it was early in the day, and I only wanted enough beer to stop worrying about work stuff, not enough to get buzzed, I only had a few beers. I started off with the Petaluma Strong Ale, one of the best seasonal ales. From there, I moved to a Hop Ottin IPA… an all time favorite! Since I was feeling the Hop Ottin, I moved to a very light wheat beer, and Erdinger… a German Hefeweisen… with a wedge of lemon. A perfect last beer of the afternoon. We're going to the Toronado tonight, so expect another update tomorrow!

[Avery] 9/13/98
Last night was another Toronado night. It was great, because our two favorite bartenders were working: Ian and Robert. The Petaluma Strong Ale was finally back on tap, and I made it my business to have a pint of it! Boont Amber, Lagunitas Maximus and a flute of Framboise rounded out the night. Janet stuck with Guinness and Framboise. Janet wrote up a better description of the night than I ever could, so I'll just leave that to her.

[Janet] 9/13/98
As soon as we got to the Toronado and saw that Ian and Robert were working, we knew we would have to stay for more than one or two beers. Ian always does an Underburg with us right away, without us even having to ask, and both of them are just plain fun to talk to.
It seems that school is back in session here in San Francisco, and that means a lot of clueless college students coming into the city. We heard two or three phone calls from students asking for directions while we were in Body Manipulations getting our ears stretched to 6 gauge, sat next to a group of three of them having a rather heated discussion about Einstein at the sushi bar, and saw may of them walk into the Toronado last night. I say clueless because a&#41 they're dressed up like they're going to a 4-star restaurant in Marin for Sunday brunch and b&#41 order things that the bar doesn't even have. The most entertaining moment of the night was when a blonde Ken-doll-type guy wearing a white sweater ordered "three double Stoli's, a glass of ice water with a wedge of lemon (that was his exact water order…how shi-shi!&#41, and a light beer" (whatever that is.&#41 This was Robert's response: "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!" He put the glass of water in front of the guy and said "Ten bucks." After everyone had a few laughs and told the guy that the Toronado only serves beer, he then said "OK, then, three beers." After 15 or so minutes he and his stick-figured Barbie friends left the bar, leaving their beers practically untouched. Now, first of all, chances are if you see 46 taps and no bottles of vodka or gin or scotch, chances are that the bar in question probably only serves BEER. Secondly, who goes to a bar that serves a multitude of different types of beers and orders "A beer?"  
The award for the second most entertaining moment of the night goes to the three obvious college kids who got kicked out for sneaking a Budweiser into the Toronado (who, of course doesn't sell any "corporate beer"&#41, pouring it into regular pint glasses and then, forgetting that this is against the law, left the bottle on the bar right in front of the bartenders! Again, I have to wonder why someone would sneak a beer as bad as Budweiser into a bar that has, like 46 beers on tap! Oh, those wacky college kids…

[Avery] 9/6/98
It's not even worth thinking that if we go to the Toronado on a Saturday night that we'll be back home before 2 am. Last night, Janet and I met up with Jocelyn, her brother Paul and Jocelyn's college friend Shadee for what we initially thought would be a few beers and an early night. Well, it was an early night… or actually early in the morning… because I was eating turkey schwarma in front of the TV at 3am.
It's always fun going to the Toronado with some adventurous souls who have never been there before and have no idea what to order. As usual, I was pegged as the beer geek and told to order for everyone…. well, everyone except for Janet, who decided to stick with Guinness and Framboise all night. Jocelyn ended up with a Boont Amber, Weinstephaner, and a Framboise. Paul started with a Paulaner Hefeweisen and then moved on to some Belk's ESB and a Framboise… some of the best beers in the world. Shadee ended up with a Red Hook Rye and a Framboise. Me? I ended up drinking Death and Taxes, Maximus, Hop Ottin IPA, Thurn und Taxis Roggen, and a Boont.
It was a fun night… Jocelyn regaled us with her stories about her exploits at Somewhere Else, another bar in San Francisco… Paul told room mate stories that topped even our best stories, and Tad, even though he wasn't wearing a muscle shirt, flexed for us… but only once. Sigh… so many beers, so little time.

[Janet] 9/6/98
An evening in the Lower Haight would not be complete without a crazy person coming into the Toronado. On the 4th of July it was that 20-something guy who wandered aimlessly around the bar, then claimed he was having a heart attack, started crying and saying that no one loved him, and finally started throwing drunken punches at the bartenders. Last night it was a older hippy-looking guy, complete with matching headband and poncho, who was evidently having some words with Ian the bartender. I'm guessing that he wasn't too happy with the outcome of the conversation, because as he was leaving he started chanting "Hate-ful, hate-ful, hate-ful" and then in a fit of anger threw a…french fry. He was aiming for Ian, I'm sure, but it just happened to hit Avery square in the chest. Random Quote of the Night: Ian, as he lit a cigarette at 1:45 AM: "The law was written for me, as an employee, not for you guys, and I don't really care. He cares, (pointing at Johnny, the other bartender&#41 and I care about him, but I don't care." [referring to the no-smoking law in CA., which no one really pays attention to anymore.]  

[Avery] 9/5/98
Last night, I made an unscheduled trip to the Toronado.
After a long night of sushi with Toshi (whose 31st birthday Janet and I were celebrating&#41 he decided that he wanted a beer or two before calling it a night. Janet was feeling a little tired, so it ended up being a guy's night out! We made it to the Toronado and it was wall-to-wall yuppies. I mean, there were khakis and cardigans as far as the eyes could see! Tad (the bouncer&#41 was in rare form… wearing a muscle shirt and flexing his 2 inch biceps whenever we walked by us.
so, Toshi looked at the board to see what was new… and we saw the new White Lightning from Speakeasy Brewery, their first attempt at a Belgian witbeer. It sucked… horribly. All of the great characteristics of a Witbeer were missing from the White Lightning… no yeast taste, too strong of a malt taste, too sweet, not enough coriander. Toshi finished his… for the first time ever at a bar, I couldn't finish the drink. It took almost a whole pint of Boont Amber to get the taste of that White Lightning out of my mouth.
At 11:15, all of the bridge-and-tunnel yuppies left for Marin or Berkeley, or wherever the hell the yuppies live, leaving the Toronado sort of deserted. We used this opportunity to procure a bottle of Framboise Boon 1995… the traditional end-of-the-night-beer when I drink with Toshi. All in all, it was a fun three hours at the Toronado.

[Avery] 8/30/98
Unfortunately, since Janet and I were still feeling a bit under the weather, we didn't go out drinking. Hopefully, by next weekend, we will feel good enough to go out to the Toronado again.

[Janet] 8/23/98
Since we both felt sick and tired, we didn't leave the house all day on Saturday. Total sloths. When it got to be dinnertime, we spent half an hour listing the pros and cons of  going out to get something to eat. Total indecisiveness. Well, we should have taken this as a sign to stay home, because what followed was a complete disaster. We had finally come to a decision to get noodle soup at Mifune in Japantown;  it was cheap, relatively close, and we had heard good reviews of the place. The food tasted fine, and our sore throats actually started to feel a little better. After eating, we were on the fence again trying to decide whether or not to go to the Toronado, our usual Saturday night activity. Ian was working, and we always like to talk to him. But we were a little tired. And there was boxing on HBO at 11:00 PM . We came to a compromise of staying for one beer, two at the most. Now, all I had at the restaurant was a large Sapporo beer and a little hot sake. And over a period of more than 2 hours at the Toronado, all I had was 2 Boddingtons and a Framboise. Yet, I started feeling dizzier and dizzier, as if I had been drinking since 3 in the afternoon! As long as I stick with the same kind of drinks, this usually didn't happen (believe me, I've learned my lesson on that one!&#41 Avery felt the same way, and he can usually drink a hell of a lot more than he did last night. Nevertheless, we both got back to the apartment and, after drinking 2 large glasses of water and realizing the room wasn't going to stop spinning any time soon, proceeded to spend the better part of Saturday night puking our guts out. Damn those noodles! Damn them to hell!
The evening wasn't a complete loss, however, as we did get to hear firsthand the story of how Johnny, after a guy told him to "kiss his ass" last week, chased the guy out of the bar, wrestled his coat off of him, swung it around over his head like a lasso, and finally let go. The jacket landed right on top of a cab that was driving down Haight Street.

[Avery] 8/16/98
Ok, like I said in yesterday's update : Oh well, it's not the first time that we've been there until 2am, and it won't be the last. Well, last night we were there until last call once again. When we got to the Toronado, we realised that the only bartender on shift was Ian. Saturdays are strange days at the Toronado… sometimes it's empty, sometimes it's quite busy. Ian was hoping that the night was going to be slow when he agreed to be on shift alone yesterday. Since Ian is the newest Bartender, and yesterday was Dave (the Owner's&#41 birthday party, Ian figured that Johnny should be able to enjoy the party. Ian, unfortunately, was wrong.
Anyway, back to the bar. Ian responded to our presence by swiftly bringing a round of Underberg. Mmmmm… Underberg. That and a Hop Ottin IPA started off the evening… a Lind Jolly Roger and a Lindeman's Framboise (along with more Underberg&#41 finished off the evening. All said, it was a perfect evening at the Toronado.
The only thing that should have made the evening better would be some incident with the Yuppies… oh wait! I did have some yuppie incidents. The first incident happened a few minutes after arriving at the Toronado. I needed to get to the bathroom, and in my way were a gaggle of cardigan-wearing yuppies. So, first, I asked nicely "Excuse me"… when nobody responded, I said "Pardon me, coming through". I figured that the third time would be a charm, so I tapped on the queen-yuppie's shoulder and said "'Scuse me, coming through…" when that failed to produce a response, I just pushed my way right through them. Queen yuppie made some half-assed attempt at copping an attitude with me by yelling "Hey, watch it there!" Ooh… I was trembling.
The yuppies struck again while we were into our second beers… another yuppie came up to the bar and ordered a Bass and two shots of Jager[meister]. Excuse me, do you SEE Bass ale on the board? Do you see any hard liquor or anyone else drinking a mixed drink? No. I have never believed that there is no such thing as a stupid question, and assholes like this prove me right every time.

[Janet] 8/16/98
Last night we were on the fence about going to the Toronado, only because we had gone on Friday night and ended up staying until last call. But we decided that we wanted to see Ian, so we went and again ended up staying until last call, mostly because Ian was the only bartender on shift, which is always cool. Had Framboise all night (expensive taste, I know!&#41 first Lindemans in the bottle and then Lindemans on tap (bottle's better&#41. I still don't understand those people who come to the Lower Haight all dressed up to go to the Toronado. At least dress the part if you're going slumming. Sheesh.

Posted in The Barfly Chronicles.

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