BEER + WINE ISSUE: Recent developments on the local beer and wine scene
BEER + WINE You may be a growler geek, a craft connoisseur, an export expert, a noble hops know-it-all ... but are you a real Beer Nerd? A new Trivial Pursuit-like game from local publishing powerhouse Chronicle Books (www.chroniclebooks.com ) tests your brew knowledge — "brewledge"? — as you advance around a colorful board. But here's the delicious twist: players can land on "blind taste test" squares and really show their hops IQ. It's a drinking game where drinking can actually help you win. Truly, we live in an age of wonders.
Yes, yes, small-batch urban wineries are still all the rage, but how does one distinguish itself in the great grape landscape? Well, if you're the folks behind Tank 18 (1345 Howard, SF. www.tank18.com ), you make your own wine, yes, but you also open up your beautiful, rustic-modern space for big events and parties (including a cheeky, sexy one during Folsom Street Fair) with a full bar. You also hit a sweet green spot with a BYOB-like event every third Saturday called "Sustainable Bottling" — patrons bring in rinsed-out bottles of wine they've already enjoyed at home to exchange for discounted, full Tank 18 bottles. Starting at $7.99 per bottle, that's an upcycle we'll gladly uncork.
Then there's the Dogpatch WineWorks (2455 Third St, SF. www.dogpatchwineworks.com ), which opened last year in a huge 15,000-square-foot space, and follows in the footsteps of Potrero Hill fave Crushpad by inviting people to come make their own wine. Budding vintners get to choose their own vineyard and varietal adventure, and the Dogpatch experts guide everyone through the process in a casual environment. This is the kind of team-building corporate exercise we'd like to see replace trust falls and retreats.
Oh, and did you know that you can take a bike tour of SF's urban wine scene and learn some of the awesome century-old history of local grape cultivation? Gears and Grapes (www.gearsandgrapes.com ) offers a breezy $99 day-ride through the city's hotspots, stopping for tastings along the way. "Over 100 wineries flourished in the places that new tech start-ups now thrive," G&G informs us. Can we have those wineries back, please?
Speakeasy (1195 Evans, SF. www.goodbeer.com ) just celebrated its sweet 16 with a huge block party in the Bayview outside its brewery. But if you missed it, never fear. You can visit Speakeasy's lovely Tap Room (Tue-Thu, 3-8pm; Fri-Sat, 1-9pm; Sun, 1-6pm) for some primo tastes, possibly including some of the new brews debuted at the block party (Bourbon Barrel-Aged Scarface Imperial Stout, 2009 Old Godfather Barleywine). Here's an extra tip — Sundays they invite some of the city's yummiest BBQ in to soak up some of those suds. Upcoming Smokin' Sundays feature Memphis Minnie's on Oct. 13 and Baby Blues BBQ on Nov. 10.
Just like the October appearance of seasonal craft beer favorites — Anchor Brewing's deep, rich Big Leaf Maple, 21st Amendment's nicely spiced Fireside Chat, and, on a broader scale, Shock Top's Pumpkin Wheat — so we must tighten our lederhosen in preparation for Oktoberfest by the Bay (Sept. 20-22, Pier 48, SF. www.oktoberfestbythebay.com ). In addition to the hordes of revelers, you can catch entertainment from the Chico Bavarian Band accompanied by traditional dancing from the Nature Friends Schuhplattler (despite the name, not a nude oompah-pah association, alas). Plus, of course, a million steins of Spaten bier. Expect an overload of dirndls. *