Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Ten years ago, when San Francisco was in the initial throes of what came to be known as “the dot-com boom”, a new tapas restaurant & brewery opened up South of Market called THIRSTY BEAR. It got good reviews, it served its own beer, and it catered to the yuppie dinner crowd, and who doesn’t need a good yuppie dinner every now & again, right? We went a few times and always figured it was OK, maybe the beer was just mediocre, but man, that Paella Valenciana was pretty smokin’. A couple years ago I went with some co-workers and had roughly the same reaction – beer was all right, food was better, and the general sense I got from Thirsty Bear was it was the sort of place you might want to hit about every third year.

Now that I work down the street from it, and am an amateur beer writer of zero renown, I decided to make another visit with some ex-co-workers. The waitress talked us into going with their small-batch 10TH ANNIVERSARY ALE, and man, it was something else. Beer snobs of Northern California, do not miss this one, because it’s a high-alcohol, complex and exceptionally tasty ale. I can’t find a single thing on the web to link to to help tell you about it, not even on the brewery’s web site, but don’t let that stop you. She told us that it was cask-conditioned, and was brewed in a small quantity a few months ago. She also pushed it on us because I think I asked too many questions & she took me for a beer dork, which I most certainly am not! No, check that, I totally am. It was a dark, cloudy brown with a medium head, and really tasted closer to a barleywine than the cask-driven brown ale I was expecting. Excellent. I gave it an 8/10, and promised to never misunderestimate this place again.


Anonymous said...

I thought that they had some decent ones on tap there in my three lifetime visits so far....I was impressed that they had some belgian styles and cask stuff. Maybe its the yuppie/restaurant vibe which is souring your palette? I guess I should try the food some time. The article in the SF Chronicle last Friday mentioned that they have various X-Mas seasonals going on.....time for me to go by there again.

Bryan said...

I, too, have always wanted to dismiss it during my visits to SF. But alas I'm drawn back. Is it the name? The Spanish concept? The proximity to 21A? That it usually lies between 21A and my hotel? Who knows? In any case, I always leave happy that I chose to poke my head in and see what's on tap. Finally, on this last visit tried the Vanilla, and whaddya know, not too bad. They truly don't get the press they deserve.

agltbialik said...

I just came from Thirsty Bear this evening and tasted the excellent Cask Aged Ale, and I CAN'T GET IT OFF OF MY MIND!!! I am far from a beer snob, and know very little about how to describe this great beer, however I must say that it is the best thing I've ever had. Here it is, maybe a good 4 hours since I've tasted it, and I'm googling the hell out of it trying to find more information on it.

I'm recommending this to all my friends, my family, my enemies, my senator, EVERYONE. This is not to be missed.