Thursday, April 01, 2010


My wife’s part of a category of vegetarians that are very few in number: “fowletarians”; i.e. people who are pretty much vegetarian most of the time, except when they’re eating chicken or turkey. Since her consumption of fowl is actually quite limited, and is usually undertaken at Thai or Vietnamese restaurants or on Thanksgiving, we eat at a lot of vegetarian places when we go out so she can actually enjoy herself. Me, I’m very cool with vegetarian food as long as it doesn’t get to be my lifestyle, you know what I mean? We went to a fantastic, semi-legendary San Francisco vegetarian restaurant this past weekend called GREENS, and the food is so good and so rich you wouldn’t even know there wasn’t animal flesh being served. Oh, and they serve a rich variety of small-brewer beers, most of them organic, which is what I’d like to discuss today.

I looked through my older reviews and found a little bit of hostility in the past toward organic beer – not simply because they were organic, but because they were mostly mediocre-to-awful. There was one huge exception – MAD RIVER BREWING’s SCOTCH PORTER, and since GREENS had that on the menu, that’s what I went for right away. Here’s what I had to say about it last time, which I emphatically second now that I’ve had it twice:

An easy-drinking yet still complex amber-colored scotch ale, with a porter/coffee taste. The malts are very rich and there’s a lingering smokiness to it. It has all the taste and characteristics of the best scotch/Scottish ales, with a little bit of smooth English porter sneaking in behind it. Totally worth seeking out in a big way. 8.5/10.

I had another beer round left in the chamber, so this time I went for BUTTE CREEK ORGANIC IPA, forgetting that I’d had it back in 2007 once before and rated it a 7/10. I did the same this time, which says something about the beer’s and my own reviewing consistency, I guess. This is a very solid and “normalized” IPA – clear pouring, a little piney, refreshing and by no means a big hoppy monster. It’s what they used to call an IPA before the style got redefined (for the better) the past 5-6 years. I’ll go with a 7/10 again as well, and I feel comfortable announcing that these are “probably” two of the best organic brews in the USA.

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