Oh, Magnolia, how I missed thee and thine beers. Could it be possible for me to somehow bottle the Magnolia experience for the East Coast? If you haven't picked up on my opinion in the past, then allow me state it again: No trip is complete to San Francisco without a visit to Magnolia in the Haight-Ashbury district. If you can add an Anchor tour and a stop across town at 21st Amendment, you've got yourself a perfect beer trip within the city proper. Instead of telling the same lovey-dovey story again, you can read (or re-read?!) my summary from earlier this year. Many of the notes and sentiments remain the same.
On this particular evening, travelling colleague and friend Matt and I stopped in at Magnolia after our sushi dinner at Sakana (if this was a food site, too, you'd get a full glowing writeup on Sakana...or do yourself a favor and stop here too for great sushi in SF). We nibbled on a couple of appetizers (bacon-wrapped water chestnuts and plantain fries) and almost (almost, I say) sampled each and every beer served on tap that evening....yes, both CO2 and cask! Dave Keene and crew certainly continue to impress with their consistent brews, conducive atmosphere, and wonderful staff. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to make our way down the street to Dave's new establishment, Alembic. Next time, Dave, I promise :)
In review of the night's sampled brews, it was really no surprise that Proving Ground IPA rose to the top as it did at my last visit. Following quite closely was another old friend, Cole Porter. And, the ESB made the top 3 as a solid, straight-to-style (but, oft-neglected) ESB. Even the Number 9 beer, a 9th anniversary "light beer" that we put at the bottom of our consensus ranking, was still a nice beer that delivered subtle flavors and nuances that we had to pay attention to in order to appreciate. Which all goes to remind us that bigger beer does not always mean better and that the lighter, softer beers can still deliver a wonderful experience.
Can't wait to go back!
p.s. Oh, and by the way, be sure to ask for one of Kim's table while you're there if you're looking for pleasurable service and a friendly back-East face (she went to Pitt).
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