We’re not unfamiliar with walking all over a city visiting pubs, brewpubs and breweries. From our earliest days of beer travel, this was our favorite mode of transportation.
Turns out, there is a whole website devoted to this mode of beer crawl, urbanbeerhikes.com. Thanks to our friend, Chris Devlin, we met the website’s owner and urban beer hike guru, Dave, for a Saturday hike around San Francisco.
On a pleasant early November day, our five-some began the hike at City Beer Store. The quintet included Dave, Chris Devlin, Renee, Merideth and myself. This was Dave’s first visit to the City so we would be covering familiar ground on our hike.
The beers that began our day included Russian River Redemption, Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela, Auburn Alehouse Festbier and Bear Republic “Mach 10″.
With a good base of beers, it was time to find some food. In a city where walking can can be quite vertical and challenging, our journey to the Public House at A&T Park (1.4 miles) was typical of what we mostly would experience on the day, nice and flat.
In contrast to the previous week’s World Series bedlam and subsequent celebrations, the Public House was relatively quiet on this Saturday afternoon.
While most of our crew ordered the house cask beer, Billy Sunday Bitter, Merideth began with Firestone Walker’s Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout. Accompanying the beers at the Public House where high-end pub grub items such as Mac-n-cheese, Pulled Pork Sliders, a BLT and Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream.
It was a short walk to 21st Amendment (.4 miles). Where the Public House was quiet, 21A was buzzing with activity. We ended up grabbing a table up in the loft.
It was the first week of the BRU/SFO Project, the Belgian-inspired brews month at both 21A and Magnolia. There were three BRU/SFO creations available on our visit. Merideth and I both passed on the cocoa Witbier to try Via, a really nice Belgian-style Single. Our valiant leader, Dave, couldn’t turn down an opportunity to have Watermelon Wheat with a slice a watermelon.
After 21A, we had the longest leg of the day, a 1.8 mile walk to North Beach. If there are any hills on this hike, it would be the walk up Columbus Ave. After a quick stop at Golden Boy Pizza for some more food, we walked around the corner to the Church Key.
The Church Key is one of my favorite beer spots in the City. I just love the laid back neighborhood atmosphere of the tiny bar. Unfortunately, on this evening, the beer selections excited no one in our group. So, we were ‘one and done’.
From the quiet Church Key, it was another short walk (.4 mile) to the opposite end of the spectrum, the loud and boisterous La Trappe. Descending the stairs into the cellar, we were greeted by a din of noise from an almost packed house. Luckily, we found a few seats at the bar.
Another one of my favorite beer destinations in the city, I could only manage a St. Bernardus Christmas beer before the Saturday night crowd got the best of us. Looking back, La Trappe maybe should have been our first North Beach stop.
We finished the evening at Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum Cafe, the first new place of the day for Merideth and me. Better known as just Specs’, this old-school dive bar was only a half mile from La Trappe. Like any good dive, Specs’ was located down a alley.
We found a table in the very,very dim bar and ordered a pitcher of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. To accompany our beer, Merideth ordered a wedge of cheese and saltines. After spending the day at the higher end of the San Francisco beer scene, munching on cheese and saltines chased with Pale Ale in a dimly lit bar was oddly satisfying way to close our evening.
In the end, from City Beer Store to Specs’, we walked a short 4.5 miles. Adding in the walk to and from our hotel, Merideth and I walked close to 7 miles. Not bad for a day’s beer drinking.
[Read Merideth's article on another San Francisco Beer Hike]
Here are a few more pictures to enjoy…