My wife and son went out of town for a few days this week, and you know what that means – line up the pint glasses! First stop was San Francisco’s MAGNOLIA PUB & BREWERY, smack dab in the middle of hippie ground zero back in the day, the Haight Ashbury district. I lived in this neighborhood in the pre-good beer years of 1989-91, and the thought that a world-class brewpub would open up on its festering streets was unthinkable back then. When Magnolia (named after a Summer of Love scene denizen, immortalized in Blue Cheer’s “Magnolia Caboose Babyfinger”) opened in the late 90s I gave it a try, and all I remember was that my wife through the food was so rank, we never went back. Then I took this beer class last year, discussed a bit in the opening post of this blog, and the “professor” proclaimed that the best beer in the City, my city, was found at MAGNOLIA. With said recommendation reverberating in my noggin for months, I finally sat down with a pal on Tuesday and we proceeded to sample their wares.
The ambiance of the place was great (not noisy, great freak-watching out the window), and the food was decent enough. My first draft was one of the two house IPAs they had on tap. The “cask-conditioned” one was called “Proving Ground IPA”, and it was fairly intense & quite good. It was full of very fresh, very tasteful hops, and was this extremely cloudy, bubbly golden/amber. I could see how a real beer hog would be into this, as it’s the sort of bold concoction made for the connoisseur. I tapped an 8/10 into my phone after downing it, so that’s my rating. Next up was “Blue Bell Bitter”, and this one didn’t fare as well. I’m going to be honest with you here and tell you that I only remember that it was watery and unexceptional, a little too smooth and not possessive of enough bite/kick for me to get too excited. 5/10 – that’s what I declared into my phone’s keypad at the time. I rushed through it because my friend promised a trip down the hill to the Toronado to try some draft Belgians – more on that next time, hombres! In sum, Magnolia scored a decent 6.5 average on this virgin night, but there were a loooot of other beers to experiment with there, and it has earned itself a repeat visit from the Hedonist Beer Jive drinking squad.