Thursday, September 18, 2008


After all that's happened this year, I decided to treat myself for my birthday. So I asked myself, ...I said, "Self, if you could do anything on your birthday this year, what would it be?" And myself said, "I'd be sitting in San Francisco at the Toronado bar, drinking some yummy beers." So that's what I did. I jumped in Clover (my Land Rover) and headed North, to the land of the Golden Gate and beers-a-plenty: to the heart of the microbrew revolution and the home of Anchor Brewing Company and my friends and fellow beer chick Kasey.

The Toronado was rockin, as it ended up being Lagunitas (nice brewery from Petaluma, CA) Night, which was cool. Their draught and bottle lists were amazing. We definitely got some looks when we walked in as there weren't too many beer chicks in there, but as soon as the bartender heard us order some great beers (instead of asking for something "light") we were in. And I always like the odds when the ratio is more men to women. The place is a bit of a dive, but has so much character that you'll love it if you're cool.

Here are the awesome beers we had there!

Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA - Seattle, WA - draught
Elysian Night at the Toronado happened to be happening the next night and I met someone from the brewery at the bar when I went to order my first beer. I told him about Beer for Chicks and he suggested that I try their Jasmine IPA, which I did. It was good. Its the kind of beer I'm into, an experimental American IPA. This means the beer is big, with nice floral and herbaceous jasmine notes. This beer's not too flowery or fruity or "dumbed down" though. Mouthfeel is creamy followed by good bittering hop dryness and perfumey finish. 5.6% ABV

Russian River Happy Hop - Santa Rosa, CA - draught
Its a must for me to always try any beer from Russian River that I haven't had. The only one on the list that I hadn't tried was called Happy Hop, which I thought was going to be HUGELY hoppy like their Hop 2 It ale, but this was more of an American Blonde Ale, which means that it was more mellow. Reminiscent of an English IPA, this beer had nice mellow hops and a woody stalky finish. Very drinkable. 5.0% ABV

Moonlight Brewing Company Reality Czeck - Fulton, CA - draught
I usually tell people never to order a beer by its name alone, but as you know, I also don't like rules very much. So I ordered Reality Czeck specifically because of its name - and because Kasey said that she didn't want anything too "ale-y" (which is a slappable offense, but I was in a good mood.) This beer is delish. Fresh, crisp, light with notes of biscuits and pancakes. Bright mouthfeel with and clean finish. Could have had about 20 of these! 4.8% ABV

Lagunitas Farmhouse Saison - Petaluma, CA - draught
I was stoked to see this beer on tap. Lately, Saison has been one of my very favorite beer styles (I'm going to write about them next!) and this one did not dissapoint. Spicy and yeasty (in a good way), this beer had interesting tart citrus notes a wheaty full mouthfeel, and spicy, tingly notes of pepper. Right on Lagunitas. Thanks for the memories! 6% ABV.

De Struise Witte - De Panne, Belgium - bottle
This beer is the BOMB. I'm crazy about another beer that this brewery makes called Pannepot Old Fisherman's Ale, and this one is just as good. Its a White Ale or a Witbier and it's deliciously and suprisingly nutty, with orange rind and hints of coriander. Big carbonation, but I liked it. 5.0% ABV

Dubuisson Scaldis Noel 2004 - Pipaix, Belgium - bottle
This beer was a sentimental pick. This is a super rare winter seasonal ale, so to see that they had the 2004 was amazing! I actually had this Belgian Strong Ale when it was first released so I wanted to see the effects of 4 years of aging on this bad boy. It was awesome. This beer is like drinking a wonderful port or cognac. Definite whisky-like qualities. Sweet, malty and spicy with a vinous mouthfeel and some serious heat in the exhaust. 12% ABV

The Toronado Pub is located in the Lower Haight neighborhood of San Francisco at:
547 Haight St
(between Fillmore St & Steiner St)
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 863-2276


  1. Happy Birthday from The Beer In Me!
    Hope it was a good one. Cheers!

  2. That's awesome. My husband and I were in SF over Labor Day and we went to Toronado twice. Definitely not the kind of place where you can ask for samples (and having just been in Sonoma wine tasting everywhere, we had to adjust). Folks there def know what they like and the bartenders are all business. The first night we went the front door (which is one of those half doors) got stuck closed so in order to leave you had to climb out... It was fixed by the time we went back. Great atmosphere. Did you count all of the taps on the wall?

  3. Hey Liz! Yeah. It was a great time, but it was definitely all business at the Toronado. I know how that can go as I bartended at a super packed beer destination for years, but it would have been nice to have been able to geek out with the bartenders over some of the great beers they had - if just for a moment! Oh well...maybe next time I'll go during the day.