Tuesday, January 20, 2009

San Francisco Profile: Toronados

Beer bars are a special place for me. Places where friendly geeks gather in an unpretentious setting and slowly enjoy some amazing and relatively cheap works of craft. Toronado's is known as not only the Bay Area's best beer bar, but one of the best in the USA. After dropping by one sunny Saturday afternoon I would have to agree with this assessment on at least two fronts: selection, and price. Atmosphere, well it's kinda bar-like, and the Server is a little dicky. However, you can't beat the selection!

Beer#1: Port Brewing Older Viscosity Ale

Old Viscosity is a super intense dark stout. Older viscosity is Old Viscosity aged in Bourbon barrells. mmmmm. Wow, what a great beer: vanilla, caramella, brown sugar/molasses on the palate - but less creamy and vanilla-intense than the Goose Island I reviewed earlier. There is also a very interesting herbaciousness on the thick and syrupy palate. At 12% abv, you've got to drink this slowly. But why would you want to do anything other than peacefully enjoy a sip here and there of this magnificently intense brew.

$20/bottle at Toronados

Beer #2: Russian River Damnation

Russian River is a sonoma brewery making a very nice quality range of distinctive and yet flavourful beer. The Damnation is in the style of a Belgian Wit, and had a great not-too-sweet palate of spices like cloves and pepper. Drinking very smoothly, this is a good Belgian for those who don't love Belgian sweet malts, but enjoy the yeastyness.

Very Good+
$3/pint at Happyhour (normally $4)

Beer #3: Rodenbach Grand Cru

Having had the Rodenbach red ale a couple weeks ago at City Beer, I had to try this very rare Grand Cru from them - same beer but aged in oak. And, wow was it good. Like the red ale, but with more complexity, roundness and balance. Aged in oak for 8 months, the palate was very smooth and full with apple, pomegranate, dragon fruit, and blueberry. Awesome!

Excellent to Excellent+
$12 a bottle

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