In the mid-1990s I used to make a few appearances at a brewery/restaurant called BURLINGAME STATION in Burlingame, CA – an affable sort of after-work place with beer that was “good enough”. In the interim said established has been turned over to the STEELHEAD BREWING small family of brewery/restaurants, and is one of only a tiny handful of breweries along the Silicon Valley peninsula between San Francisco and San Jose. I spent my teenage years in San Jose, and currently live in San Francisco, so what better place to suggest for a 20-year-reunion with some high school pals still living in San Jose? After all, it was a 25-minute drive for me and 45-minute drive for them, right?
Biggest surprise of the night – STEELHEAD BREWING makes some very tasty beer. I had heard suggestions to the contrary for the past couple of years. Exhibit A was the BOMBAY BOMBER IPA, which was too tempting to not start with, despite the conventional wisdom to save the hoppy beers for later in the programme. This uber-hoppy IPA virtually holds its own with anyone else in the Bay Area, with an intense mouthfeel of deep malts and really piney, citrus-packed hops. I was expecting something much more mild. It’s a golden IPA, no orange present, but it tasted something like a more carbonated version of MOONLIGHT's IPA, also called BOMBAY BY BOAT. Not quite in that league, but at 7.5/10, it’s damn good.
I don’t know how I even dared to pull the trigger on something called HAIRY WEASEL HEFEWEIZEN, but I did. Probably because I was driving and it looked like the lightest offering on the menu. It was OK, again better than expected – a fairly thin-to-medium bodied hefe, sans lemon, also quite carbonated (they say “effervescent”) but packing some malty flavor punch. I might try some of the more adventurous offerings on the menu next time, but reckoned this rated a 6.5/10 and that’s not too shabby. In short, for those that carp and bark about “no good beer on the Peninsula”, I beg to differ. If you’ve got a layover at the SF airport, you can get over that by cab in like 10 minutes, tops, enough to get one of those Bombay Bombers. Maybe I’ll see ya there, because if I can hoodwink a few more friends I’m heading back.