Époisse: French for "Your hands will smell like a marathoner's feet for the next several hours"

Last Wednesday, as part of Toronto Beer Week, one of our favourite beer places in the city hosted a special dinner. Beerbistro was pairing ten courses with Rogue beer, brought to Ontario on draft for the first time. For serious North American craft beers fans, this was not to be missed.

Good: the Dead Guy ale paired with bacon & eggs; the Yellow Snow IPA paired with duck salad; the Hazelnut Brown Nectar paired with quail; the Double Dead Guy ale paired with bacon-glazed pork tenderloin; the single malt whiskey paired with crême brulée

Not so good: the Brutal IPA paired with the mini wild boar burger (the stinky Époisse cheese ruined it); the Dirtoir Black Lager paired with seafood boil (the seafood was very unpleasant)

Anyway, with all the talk amongst tables of how Rogue draft compared to in-bottle, and of how it stacked up to Dogfish Head and Allagash and the like, by the end of the night I (and everyone around us) probably deserved one of these:

(via Kaylea McCarron, who probably wanted to say this to me many times)



As all first-time visitors to San Francisco must do, we visited Alcatraz today. The lines were long and the ferry was crowded — I can’t even imagine what it’s like on a weekend — but it was worth a visit. First of all, it was interesting to see a prison that close…it seemed so small compared to other prisons I’ve seen from the outside. Also, it was hard to get over how tiny the cells were.

Second, the island itself was strangely pretty, for what’s essentially a great rock, and the views from the island of the city skyline and bridges were fantastic. It also helped that the weather was gorgeous today, a vast improvement over the gray skies of the past two days.

Back on dry land we hopped in a cab and went to try Church Key. Unfortunately it wasn’t open for lunch; fortunately, we were near Rogue. I had to go back to a) have some more of those pulled pork sliders, and b) make up for my last beer yesterday, which had been shit. I had the hazelnut brown, Nellie had the Dogfish Head punkin.

There was one last thing on our agenda: looking down Lombard Street from the top. We walked up endless hills to get this vantage, which it turns out isn’t that impressive. We’d hoped to jump on a cable car to take us down the hill, but it was packed, so we just walked the last few minutes back to the hotel. Since then it’s been a nice relaxing afternoon of lying around our suite, and reading outside by the fire.

Tonight we’ll stick our noses into Haight-Ashbury for dinner so we can at least have a look at what that neighbourhood is like. And that will more or less wrap up the San Fran portion of our trip.

The reluctant tourists

Yesterday was a very San Francisco (tourist) day. We strolled out the hotel’s back door and down to the waterfront, walking along to the end of the municipal pier for much better shots of Alcatraz than we’d managed the day before, as well as a view of the Golden Gate bridge and back toward Ghirardelli Square. We turned and walked back, through the throngs of walkers, runners, cyclists, dogs and occasional Segway tour, toward Fisherman’s Wharf.

It’s every bit as touristy as you might think (there was a wax museum and a Rainforest Cafe and a slew of cruddy-looking stores selling cheap San Francisco paraphernalia), but at least there were some redeeming features like Boudin (where we picked up a loaf of sourdough) and the sea lions at Pier 39. Still, though, I was anxious to get away from all the crowds.

We started the long walk uphill to Coit Tower, atop Telegraph Hill. The views from the top of the hill were pretty good, and at the top of the tower they were even better.

We were getting pretty hungry by this point so we descended the steep-ass hill and found ourselves at the Rogue meeting hall. Nellie started with the Rogue Morimoto Imperial Pilsner and finished with a Northwestern Red IPA. I had a Dogfish Head (!?) Punkin and wrapped up with a Rogue Chammemellow. In between we had two Rogue samplers  (#1: American Amber, Eugune Triple Jump Ale, Northwestern Red IPA and Chipotle Ale; #2: Hazelnut Brown, Mocha Porter, Dry Hop Red and Chocolate Stout) along with some really excellent food…my pulled pork sliders were amazing.

Finally, since it was on our way home, we decided to join the throngs of people taking pictures of Lombard Street. Or, rather, the bizarrely twisty stretch starting at the top of Russian Hill. Even walking up to that stretch was tough…it’s steep enough that cars have to park at a 90-degree angle lest they roll downhill. But we got our pictures with a minimum of wives having to be pulled up the hill, and then made the short walk home to our hotel. We reckoned that San Francisco is like Halifax on steroids. That must be why we love it so much.

Rather than go out for dinner last night we just picked up some meat, cheese and wine to go along with the sourdough and chocolates we already had. We sat outside on the terrace enjoying the fire pit and views and fresh air. We met more Canadians (seriously, they’re everywhere…so far we’ve met an employee from Toronto, another employee from Vancouver and his wife from Dartmouth, and guests from Calgary, Missisauga and Brantford) and scammed a hot dog and loved our vacation and enjoyed our dinner inside only after the drizzle started. There might have been some wine spilled on the floor. Might.

Today: Alcatraz!