SF SWIG: Monthly happenings in local beer, wine and spirits

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Laszlo’s Re-Design Does Not Suck

Laszlo recently re-opened with a new look, new bar program, new menu and a full musical slate of rotating DJ’s. The bar, which is attached to sister restaurant Foreign Cinema on Mission St., has new wood-paneled walls and a raised DJ booth in the back corner. And I know what you might be thinking: “Oh great, another bar has been fancified to cater to the tech crowd.” Not so fast my friend, cause I’m feeling this one for sure.

Bar Manager Nicky Beyries (Lazy Bear, The Night Light) has a modest five cocktails on the menu, each with a different spirit. Cause who wants to pick from three different gin cocktails and two other whiskey drinks? The menu is balanced and Beyries is committed to a “five senses” approach in her drinks. The “All About Eve” might’ve been the best cocktail I had last month (Walnut-washed Four Roses bourbon, amaro, Cocchi di Torino and bitters.) The walnut-washed bourbon is so soft and it juxtaposes nicely with the oils of orange zest. This and other cocktails on the menu were simple, yet extraordinary.

Laszlo’s crazy record collection is still a staple and there’s thousands of records in their vault ranging from Tracy Chapman and Girls to Miles Davis and Ry Cooder. There are rotating resident DJs spinning records in the new sound system throughout the week, a hip-hop party on Fridays, drag bingo (4th Monday of the month) and a Sunday Brunch Party in ‘The Babe Cave’ with DJ Don’t Tell Mom & Cansafis (All Vinyl). You can order from the bar bites menu at all times (the halibut tostada and $4 fried chicken slider were A+) and ordering from the Foreign Cinema legit brunch menu on the weekends is also game. Give the new look Laszlo a spin.


New Belgium’s Tour De Fat Comes To SF

On Saturday, September 17th, Fort Collins, CO based New Belgium Brewing brings its annual bike and beer tour to town. Going down at Golden Gate Park’s Lindley Meadow, it starts with bike parade registration at 10am and the ride begins at 11am. It’s $10 a person, but there’s highbrow musical talent in Dr. Dog, Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds and the incredible Esmé Patterson.

This is definitely a wild celebration, with crazy comedy tents, circus performers (pairs well with a limited “Carney’s Blood” Blood Orange Saison), art displays and of course, a shit ton of beer. Look out for New Belgium’s Tangerine-laced Citradelic IPA, anything from New Belgium’s incredible barrel-aged Lips of Faith series (the second largest barrel-aging operation in the world!) and if you’re really lucky, the Fat Wild Ale, a collab between New Belgium and Avery Brewing Co. All proceeds of beer sales go to the SF Bike Coalition and the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council.


Bare Bottle Brew Co – Photo by Adrian Spinelli

Photo by Adrian Spinelli

Bare Bottle Brew Co Awaits you in Bernal

At the bottom of Bernal Hill, on Cortland between Bayshore Blvd & Nevada St, Bare Bottle Brewing Company has opened their taproom and it’s in a humongous 16,000 sq ft hangar. Right off the bat, this felt like the perfect place to bring a group. Picnic tables adorn the middle of the taproom, with a ton of seats along the bar and along another bartop adjacent to the brewery floor. There’s ping pong, cornhole and shuffle board off to the side, and it’s a well-lit space with rotating food trucks parked just outside.

But enough about the space, onto the beer! By now, we’ve all heard the story of a Bay Area homebrewer who opened a brewery with his buddies, but Barebottle’s founders are straight up homebrewing geeks. These guys are certified beer judges and have even opened up recipe competitions to other homebrewers that are now fine-tuned and on tap. “The beers we were making were better than any commercial comparison, but there were no avenues to get these beers out there,” said co-founder Lester Koga. And of the seventeen beers currently on draft that I tried, (Yes, I sampled all 17…for you! You’re welcome) there’s some dynamite choices.

The Scurvy Fighter Pale, with it’s natural citrusy profile was the winner in my book. It’s inspired by 49er pioneers who grew citrus to combat weakness and anemia and fits Barebottle’s mission of every beer being inspired by the SF Bay Area. The Muir Woods Series IPA’s are based on the terroir of the Muir Woods. Think woodsy flavors, like pine needles on the dew soaked earth, or the soft bark of a redwood tree in the morning. The Muir Woods C, an Imperial Red, stole the show conceptually. The SF Pineapple Express is a very crushable DIPA described as being “like a Hawaiian storm.” And the Espresso Macchiato Stout is as drinkable as you’ll find in the stout category; not too milky and uses cold brewed coffee from Paramo on Market and 9th.

Barebottle isn’t the place to come for west coast IPA’s, but as Koga says, “we value hop character over bitterness.” They certainly achieve unique flavors in many of their beers and the location is a helluvalot of fun.


Almanac Opening a Tap Room in the Mission

“Stranger Times are ahead for Almanac,” The  brewery said in an August 8th Instagram post. It looks like Almanac Brewing Company is finally establishing their own tap room in SF “this fall,” but they haven’t revealed the location. My sources tell me that it’s on 24th St between Bryant and Potrero. I walked along that block last week and looks like it’ll be one of the vacant storefronts on the north side of the street closer to Potrero.

Almanac has established themselves as an expert in accessible sour beers and this will be the first location that they’ll pour their beers exclusively from. The brand has been soaring beyond the Bay (I saw it on draft at Bailey’s Taproom in Portland) and they’re hiring a San Diego sales rep (if you’re looking to get out of town.) Almanac’s Taproom will be a welcome addition to that particular end of the block and close by to the wonderfully un-changed Pop’s Bar. Long live Pop’s and welcome to the neighborhood (soon?!) Almanac.


Amnesia’s Beer List Tho

Jesus, what a beer list! I was at Amnesia earlier this year to see local band Spooky Mansion play and was thoroughly impressed by their craft beer tap list. Little did I know that when the bar went under a change of ownership, it was bought out by none other than City Beer Store’s Craig and Beth Warthen. Guess the City Beer affiliation flew under the radar for me,  but you can go ahead and file Amnesia’s beer list as the best of any music venue in the city.

In fact, SF Swig’s Beer of The Month for September, Alvarado Brewing Co’s MaitaIPA was consumed at Amnesia. Alvarado is a brewery operation out of Monterey (with a production facility in Salinas) and the MaitaIPA is a tropically-tinged West Coast style IPA with 100% Mosaic hops, lychee and guava on the nose that goes does masterfully. Here’s hoping we see more of Alvarado’s beers in SF. In the meantime, shouts out to Amnesia, for being dedicated to featuring local eclectic talent on their stage, with top notch local craft beer to accompany it.

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