Beer 511

Exploring Craft Beer and Homebrew in Peru (Country Code 51) and the USA (Country Code 1)

Category: Taprooms Page 1 of 4

Fort Point Beer Co.’s new beer hall on Valencia

On Monday, Oct 7th, Fort Point Beer Company will open the doors to its brand new beer hall at 742 Valencia St., in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Fort Point Beer Co. was founded five years ago by Tyler and Justin Catalana, who had previously operated the Mill Valley Beer Works. Today it is San Francisco’s largest independent brewer.

However, despite its beers being found in bars and retailers throughout the city and beyond, and having a toehold in the Ferry Building market hall, Fort Point remained a production brewery and not open to the public. The company was thus wanting of a space in which to show off its beers the way it wanted, while having the opportunity to interact directly with the public. Enter: Fort Point Valencia.

Export Dortmunder-style lager (5.2% abv)

As founder Justin Catalana explained at a media preview soft opening event on Friday evening, opening a place such as Fort Point Valencia had been kind of a dream for them, and that they’ve striven to make it a space which invites customers to feel free to move about the hall, meeting people and enjoying its different areas.

A lot of care and thought went into designing Fort Point Valencia. It certainly does not have the semi-industrial look that is somewhat typical of brewery taprooms these days. While keeping the open ceiling and exposed beam timbers, they’ve eschewed the all-too-common black paint in favor of a pleasant tan or off-white base with vibrant accent walls.

Near the entry is a sort of front room, painted blue, which houses a low, sit-down bar with its own line of beer taps. The main space is populated with round tables of varying sizes with bar-height chairs. There follows a cozier space at the back with tables for two and booths for groups, with red accents and dimmer, more intimate lighting. The anchor for it all is the 40-ft standing bar.

The bar has recesses which accommodate the taps and leaves the bar top uncluttered, freeing customers and servers to interact without having to duck around a forest of towers and tap handles.

Westphalia Nuremberg Red Ale (5.6% abv)

According to head of brewing, Mike Schnebeck, all of Fort Point’s regular lineup of beers will be available full-time, along with seasonal offerings and a few guest beers from other craft breweries. Beers from the Black Sands brewpub, which Fort Point purchased last year, will also be available, as well as experimental brews and one-offs which will be served exclusively at Valencia. (A selection of wines and cider is also available.)

As for food, of course one cannot aim to be a proper beer hall without some food on offer. In this regard, the menu at Fort Point Valencia does not disappoint. It is certainly a cut above typical pub grub fare.

Chef Eric Ehler -who was pulled in from Black Sands- explained that he drew on his Korean heritage and on having grown up in Illinois (I’m pretty sure he said Illinois; maybe it was Indiana?) to create the range of flavors and dishes -from the cheeseburger to the dungeness crab rangoon, to the #00 on Rye open-faced egg salad and corned beef tongue sandwich. One of my favorites was the”pork chop bun” (think schnitzel sandwich) which, by the way, pairs really well with Westphalia red ale.

There are also plenty of genuinely tasty vegetarian options, from a crudités plate, to a luxed-up artichoke, to a lovely “hand salad” of endive, quinoa, pickled cauliflower, and black garlic.

Clockwise from top left: Hand Salad, Cheeseburger, Crudités, #00 on Rye

As of now, the menu doesn’t have anything very sweet on it, but if you’re in the mood for a dessert, I’d recommend ordering the “party bread”, which is a really tasty sweet-and-savory fry bread (it was a crowd favorite at the event on Friday).

Fort Point Valencia
742 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA

In Lima …

I’ve been in Lima a few days, and last night I went out for some beers with my cousin. We ended up at the Nuevo Mundo Draft Bar on Manuel Bonilla Street in the Miraflores district.

I’ve mentioned Nuevo Mundo’s taproom before. As always the beer selection was good, but what made the night even better was running into José Alberto Castro, who was playing music at the venue.

Castro is a fellow beer aficionado and blogger, who writes at tomandoaltura.com. He was probably Peru’s first beer blogger, and his beer reviews in particular are one of the reference points on the local brewing scene. I highly recommend reading his blog.

Gilman Brewing (Berkeley, CA)

Over the weekend I stopped in at Gilman Brewing, on Gilman St, in Berkeley.

The space is fairly cozy. One is greeted by the taproom immediately upon entering, in a small, low-ceiling foyer, leading onto a passage backed by a long standing bar pushed up against the backside of the fermenters.  However, above there is a two-level deck overlooking the brewhouse, with a selection of tables and bar stools.

Off to one side there is a game room, with corn-hole, and -I think- a fussball table.

It was my first time there, and the staff were very helpful in steering me toward good beer selection

s for my flight.  I tried  (clockwise from top center, in the picture above) La Ferme Noire (dark saison with brett, 7.7% abv), Old Rusty (Belgian golden strong, 8%), Pineapple Jardin (Belgian golden sour, 5.8%), Cheval de Fer (limited-release dry-hopped Belgian saison, abv not specified), and Fuzzy Dice (hazy IPA, 7%).

I liked all the beers, but I was kind of rushed and didn’t take notes, so I can’t remember details of all of them.  Fuzzy Dice was good, I do remember that.  So were Cheval de Fer and Old Rusty, but, for me that day, the real standouts were the two sours.

Le Jardin is a kettle sour, which means that it was soured with lactobacillus before the wort was boiled.  It is dry, and mildly tart, not puckeringly sour, which makes it a good “gateway” into the world of sour beers.  That it was then fermented with Belgian yeast strains adds pleasant complexity to the flavor -some citrus, stonefruit, ….  It is no wonder that I liked it, as I am partial to both, sours and Belgian-styled beers.

Pineapple Jardin is Le Jardin with the addition of a half-ton of fresh pineapple per batch. So, take what I said above about Le Jardin and picture that with the sweetness and tartness of pineapple, with loads of pineapple flavor on top of that, and you’d be getting the picture.

 

 

Gilman Brewing Co.
912 Gilman St.
Berkeley, CA

gilmanbrew.com

 

Autumn Beer Tasting at Anchor

About a week and a half ago, took advantage of invitation to attend an Autumn Beer Tasting Session led by Dane Volek, Anchor’s Pilot Brewer at Anchor Public Taps.

Up until now Anchor’s tap room has not been generally open to the public, and the only way to taste Anchor beer at the brewery was to attend a special event or manage to grab a hard-to-get spots on a tour.  Anchor’s new taproom, Anchor Public Taps, changes that by being open 7 days a week and offering pretty much all of Anchor’s beers on tap to the public, hence the name “Public Taps”.

Located just across the street from the main Anchor brewery itself on Potrero Hill in San Francisco, Anchor Public Taps also houses Anchor Brewing’s 7-bbl pilot brewery, which produces many beers offered only on tap, and only at Anchor Public Taps. In addition it also hosts Anchor’s growing barrel-aging program, including some “funky” barrels.

Volek led our group through a line-up of four beers that “you would want to drink on an evening in the Fall”.

These are my notes from that night on each of the beers:

Blood Orange Blonde
orange prominent in the nose, some hop aroma.  light body, gold to light-amber in color  not much maltiness or bitterness, slight fruity sweetness lingers on the palate

Fog Breaker IPA
citrus and pine hoppiness in the nose  Pine and citrus bitterness in the mouth   gold in color, light body and mouthfeel  bitterness lingers

Third I
triple IPA  9.3%    fruitiness in the nose: citrus and then … strawberries!   Marked strawberry character in the flavour as well.  Hop bitterness is attenuated by the sweetness.  The sweetness lingers on the palate, leaving a sharp bitterness as it fades. Very interesting beer.

Coffee Porter
Pronounced coffee notes in the aroma and taste.  Coffee, roast, and hop bitterness balanced by malty sweetness.

In addition to those four, Volek threw in a few additions and surprises.

The first of these was a Märzen, of which we got serve ourselvesdirectly from the sampling port on the fermenter.   Next, the group was able to taste a brown ale that had been fermenting for only 24 hours.  It pretty much was like tasting unconverted wort –which is, in fact, what it was.

Finally, we got a preview taste of this year’s Merry Christmas and Happy New Year beer and a sneak peek at the label and packaging.

Produced afresh each year from a different recipe, and with a different image of a tree on the label, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year changes from year to year.  This year’s version –which goes on sale in November– is less robust or roasty than previous years’ versions. Less like a stout and more like a barley wine, but still with some spice character: coriander, cloves, …

La Red Cervecera Perú (Lima)

During my last week in Lima, at the beginning of August, I took myself to Barranco to get acquainted with the Red Cervecera Perú.

Red Cervecera is arguably one of Peru’s premiere homebrew supply retailers.  Located in a remodeled old early-Republican house on Avenida Francisco Bolognesi,  the Red Cervecera combines a homebrewing supply retail shop, a brewing school, and a brewpub under one roof.

There, owner Joe Forte and manager Francisco Tapiago, among others, provide invaluable suppor to the country’s homebrewing and craftbrewing community by lead courses in brewing, provide opportunities for other homebrewers and microbrewers to gain experience with new ingredients, and offer a venue for beer-oriented events.

I happened to stroll in off the street on a Wednesday afternoon and, though a stranger, was warmly welcomed as a homebrewer and invited in to observe a brew that Francisco was brewing in order to represent the Red Cervecera at the then-upcoming Craft Beer Sessions festival.  While there I also had the opportunity to meet and chat with Joe, and with Megan Garrity, of Greenga Brewing Co., who were collaborating on a Chocolate-Peanut Butter Porter for the same event.

Franscisco was kind enough to take time out to give me a tour of the place and to show me the shop, which sells some thirty varieties of malt and carries a couple of dozen hop varieties as they become available.  One of those was a surprising experimental hop from Hop Breeding Company, HBC 472, which provided all the coconut notes to a Coconut Golden Ale on tap at the bar.

I returned the next evening for World IPA Day, and was again embraced and made to feel at home, and introduced to other craft brewers from across Peru.

At the Red Cervera, Joe, Francisco, and the rest of the team, more or less created one of those brewer’s dream spaces in which all elements of the hobby –from brewing, to owning a homebrew shop, to having your own brand, to serving your beers (and your friends’ beers) at your own bar– are brought together under one roof and shared with wider brewing community.  Their openness exemplifies an attitude of sharing and cross-pollination with, and among that community, that is a hallmark of the homebrew and craft brew community in the United States but is, I’m told, still a bit harder to come across in Peru.

 

Red Cervecera Perú
Av. Francisco Bolognesi 721
Barranco, Lima, Peru

www.facebook.com/redcerveceraperu/
www.redcervecera.com

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