Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Visit to Toronado in San Francisco, CA

What do you get on a Friday evening in December when you mix a visit to an excellent beer bar with hot tamales and Alaskan Smoked Porter on draft? Well, I can't tell you either, since I left no room after dinner for the tamales and the Alaskan had just kicked. Oh, and there were intermittent downpours of rain, too. More on the tamales later...

In any case, though, travelling friend and colleague Matt and I did make it to Toronado, the excellent beer bar (if there was any question!) as the last stop on our West Coast swing through the San Francisco Bay Area. This was Matt's first time there and I do not believe he left disappointed. The tap list was chock full of the usual high-quality suspects. Among them, just to name a few, included Alaskan Smoked Porter, Deschutes Jubelale, Russian River(s), St. Feuillien Noel, Delirium Noel, Anderson Valley(s), and more. Of course, way way way too many to try to choose from when you're only there for a few. Especially for us East Coast guys who don't have the pleasure of spotting anything from Alaskan on a regular basis.

We were able to slide into a table in the back room to enjoy our beverages. We settled down with Anchor's Christmas, the Deschutes Jubelale, and the Drake's Imperial IPA. Then came the tamales. Now keep in mind that Toronado doesn't have a kitchen. That's where the story turns humorous. The legendary tamale lady made her appearance. And, judging by her enthusiastic customers, her popularity is unsurpassed. Unfortunately, we had eaten (too) well at Sakana (sushi) and at Magnolia and were in no mood for more food. But, tempting it was...

I'm not sure if it's possible to leave Toronado feeling satisfied. On this trip, I left disappointed that I had not sampled the Moonlight seasonal, Santa's Tipple. During the Lagunitas Skunk Train event in September, I had sampled a couple of their brews and was quite impressed. Also, missing from my tasting radar on this particular evening were the Butte Creek and the, uh, oh yeah, the Alaskan Smoked Porter. After a sampling of the nightlife at Toronado, we left the Haight happy on some fronts, unsatisfied on others, but anxious for the next return visit.

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