I set foot in San Francisco’s TORONADO bar a couple of weeks ago for the first time since my rant about their foul, snotty, amazingly douchy bartenders generated some nice click-throughs and some exciting re-posts & animated discussion over on Facebook. Wow, I need to smack-talk a little more often; it's way more fun than beer reviews, and "the people seem to dig it". Anyway, true to form, the main offending bartender, the one with the fake Boston accent, showed his true colors almost as soon as I arrived (keep in mind that this guy doesn’t know me from El Debarge). I’m standing there with a $10-spot in my hand, and the guy goes “One minute” while he walks over to the other side of the bar to serve someone else. No problem. As he walks back to get the guy’s beer, he looks me in the eye, and swear to god, goes “Would ya stop stahring at me? I’ll get to ya. Ya making me nahvous”. OK, “Southie”. I’d been there for maybe 30 seconds. Clown.
I think the bloom’s coming off this place’s rose in other ways, too. I used to walk into Toronado and routinely be floored by the incredible, rare and wild choices being offered up. Now other bars surprise me far more regularly, even the ultra-pricey MONK’S KETTLE (who, to their credit, seem to have made an attempt to lower prices). At Toronado it’s the same 3 Russian River taps, the same 2-3 Moonlight taps, the same 2-3 Iron Springs offerings, etc. I’d just been in Seattle four days previously, where not one but two bars up there had an imperial version of ANDERSON VALLEY BOONT AMBER on tap called HUGE’R BOONT. “San Francisco’s premier bar” didn’t have it, despite it being a more or less local beer, nor anything else particularly special. Granted, a lot of this complaining is a function of me and how I’m constantly needing to find the newest-latest (what a dork!), but surprisingly, I’m coming to the conclusion that The Toronado just might not be the #1 place for that any longer.
Anyway! There were a couple of IPAs on draft that I’d never tried before, or so I thought until five minutes ago when I reviewed my own blog and found that I rated GREEN FLASH WEST COAST IPA a 7.5/10 about 18 months ago. OK, so let’s just say that it’s a well-above-average IPA with a very, very big & bitter bite, and a strong pine taste. Love this brewer. I’m raising the score to 8/10. The other one I went with is from a local-ish (Napa) brewer called NAPA SMITH. Their IPA is imaginatively dubbed NAPA SMITH IPA. This one has a really nice tingling mouthfeel, but considerably less bite and hops action than the Green Flash. Solid, if a little plain. 7/10. I skulked out of the Toronado like a spoiled little Lord Fauntleroy with the words of Johnny Rotten performing 31 years ago and a mere 2 miles away ringing through my groggy, beered-out head: “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated….?”.