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A trip to Speakeasy

This afternoon, we were invited to visit Speakeasy Brewery by Forest Gray, the president of Speakeasy. So Janet, Carlos and I decided to avail ourselves of the opportunity.

Carlos and I made it to the Potrero Hill location at 4:15pm, and were greeted by Forest himself. Forest showed us around the brewery, giving us the grand tour, and after the tour, he decided to let us wet our whistles with some fresh Speakeasy beer. Carlos decided to grab a Satchmo Stout, one of the great California Stout Beers. I had my first of many Untouchable Marzens, and Forest poured himself a Prohibition Ale. We drank and talked and drank some more. In the process, I ended up having a second taste of the White Lightning.

If you don’t remember, I really panned the White Lightning in a previous post. I found it to be undrinkable. However, after my second tasting tonight, I found it to be a much more interesting beer than before. Granted, I still don’t love the beer… it is too sour to support the light fruity tones that the beer provides, but I would certainly drink it in place of a Hoegaarden White. Even if I don’t rank it in my top 10 beers, after talking to Forest, I certainly respect what they were trying to do with it: create an American lactic-fermented beer. In this case, they did a better job than Elysian Brewing and Celis ever did. For me, it’s a beer to contemplate, but not to fully enjoy. Carlos disagreed, finding it a pleasantly sour change from the normal Belgian White beer.

At 5:30, Janet arrived at the brewery and had a White Lightning. Unlike me, she really enjoyed the beer, finding it a nice change from the typical witbeer. She then moved onto a Untouchable Lager. By that time, I was onto the Prohibition Ale.

We stayed at the brewery until 6:30ish, talking about geeky stuff (computers) and brewing stuff. Forest then offered us a ride back to my place… the only condition was that we would have to pick up his wife on his way back to the city. Though I don’t remember her name, we all had an enjoyable time talking about beer, politics and life in San Francisco.

When the three of us got back to our place, we noted how Forest has the best job in the world… he gets to brew sell and drink great beer… certainly the best beer being brewed in San Francisco, if not the whole Bay Area. Now if they’ll only produce a tequila or rye whiskey, I’ll never have to pander to the ego that resides at Anchor Brewing Company.

[Avery] 11/15/98

In all of the time that we’ve been writing about the Toronado, I don’t think that I have ever described the actual layout of the bar. Here it is:

The most prized seat is the stool on the right-hand side of the short leg of the bar. That’s seat #1. If you count clockwise, seats 1-4 are usually where the locals (and Janet and I) sit. The tables on the side seat 4 people each, and the back room seats about 14 people. In total, the bar can hold about 65 people comfortably.

When we got to the Toronado last night at 9:30pm, we were able to grab seats 3 and 4. A regular was in seat 2, and there was someone new in seat 1. As the night went on, the woman in seat 1 left, but kept her jacket on her seat. We all assumed that she was just heading out for a smoke. She didn’t come back for over an hour. I mean, come on… she was just hogging the most valuable seat in the bar. Every few seconds someone would come by the seat and try to sit down there, just to see the jacket there. The three of us (the person on seat 2, Janet and I) would just shrug.

This was rude, but not the rudest thing we observed last night.

At 10pm, a group of obnoxious beer geeks came into the bar after a tasting at Stern Grove. They crammed their seven portly bodies into table number two (table #1 is closest to the door), making it impossible to get by them in order to go to the bathrooms. Anyway, the geeks would talk to the bartenders Ian and Johnny for 5 minutes about the complexities of all of the beers on the menu before ordering anything, buy $9.75 worth of beer with 7 glasses, and then only tip $0.25 for the order. Pardon me, but that is worth at least a dollar or two in my book. Throughout the night, I noticed one of the geeks was pulling out a glass flask of whisky and taking a pull off of the bottle. That’s a really bad move. You see, in San Francisco, if a bar without a hard liquor license is caught with hard liquor on the premises, their license can be revoked. They were warned, and left a few minutes later.

However, these rude individuals didn’t keep us from enjoying the night. After looking on the board as I tried to select my first beer, I stumbled across the Lagunitas Solstice Beer. So, I ordered one up from Ian. Ian informed me that it was the same beer as the Lagunator, which also on tap. So, he poured me a pint of Lagunator, and a taster of the Solstice Beer… and I couldn’t tell the difference. So, I took a big sip of the Lagunator, and poured the rest of the Solstice Beer into the pint of the

Lagunator. It still tasted the same.

I went through about five beers last night, including an Anchor Small Beer, which I hadn’t had for ages, an Untouchable Lager, the Lagunator/Lagunitas Solstice Beer, and a few other pints of beer. Aside from the Small Beer, I didn’t have anything that I hadn’t had in the last few weeks.

Janet started off with a Brains Dylan Thomas, which was better than the first time we had it. For her second beer, she asked for a Roggen (Thurn and Taxis’ rye beer)… but unfortunately, they were out. Then, she asked for a bottle of Aventinus, and they were out as well. Actually, they have two kegs of Aventinus, but they aren’t putting it on tap until they run out of Celebrator. So, she had another Dylan Thomas… and then finished the night off with a Hoegaarden.

All in all, it was a fun night, and I really think that the bartenders appreciated that we were there. We were there until 2:15, before dragging ourselves home.

There aren’t any beer nights scheduled for this week, so expect an update next Sunday.

[Janet] 11/15/98

Last night I noticed that Tad (the bouncer) interestingly ties his stool to the wall with red rock-climbing webbing to assure that he will have a seat from which to bounce people. At one point three bridge-and-tunnel-looking people walked in and left the door wide open behind them. “Raised in a barn.” Avery said to Tad. “Moo.” Tad responded.

[Avery] 11/12/98

NO Brains Night!

Tonight was the Brains Dylan Thomas Smooth Ale release night at the Toronado, so Janet and I decided to stop in for a pint of beer. The Dylan Thomas is not one of my favorite beers, but I attend these nights for the free glass and to talk to the other regulars who always come out for these things.

The night started for me at 5pm. The bar was relatively empty, so I sat down in front of the glowing head of Dylan Thomas (a tacky promotion piece) and ordered up a

Lagunator. Jeff, from Rosamunde, came in and sat down next to me. We talked for a while about the shop, and he let me know that he is going to start making and selling soup for the cold winter months.

Janet got in at 5:45 and ordered up a Guinness.

At six, the people from the Brains distributorship showed up… sans the Dylan Thomas glasses. So, I nursed my Lagunator, hoping that the correct glasses would come in. At 6:15, the friend of the distributor came in with some generic Brains glasses (which we already have two of). So, I ordered up a Dylan Thomas figuring that the proper glasses were coming, and that Pauly would exchange the Brains glass for a Dylan glass.

6:30, I ask Pauly what’s up with the glasses. He tells me that these idiots were sending out the friend to get the right glasses. You see, these idiots were the same asses who held the Full Sail night 4 months ago… the infamous night where they ran up a 300 dollar tab and then left without paying. Yeah… those assholes.

6:45, I was nursing the Dylan Thomas when the distributors came in with more glasses… Brains glasses. I ask the distributor dude when the right glasses are going to arrive. Dude informs me that he forgot to order them, but he’ll leave extra Brains glasses for the bar.

6:46, Beer finished.

6:47, We leave.

Posted in The Barfly Chronicles.

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