Saving the ta tas one beer at a time

Everyone loves a three-day weekend. They’re perfect for gathering with friends and drinking beer, especially when the weather is beautiful. Add contributing to a worthy cause and it just might be the perfect weekend.

This past Saturday, Chris and I attended our first-ever Breast Fest, a fundraiser for the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic. We didn’t just go to the festival, though, we made an adventure out of it. Knowing that parking would be crazy, we drove to the Fremont BART station and took a one-hour train ride into the City. No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to City Beer, so we made that our first stop.

This visit to City Beer felt different for several reasons. First, owners and new parents Craig and Beth weren’t there. We are so used to seeing one or both of them in the shop that it felt a little odd. Big congratulations go out to them not only for the arrival of their future brewstress, Olivia, but also for their success and planned expansion. They’ve earned a well-deserved break. (Although I’m not sure that taking care of a newborn is much of a break.)

Second, our fellow beer geek and San Francisco resident Renee was not in town to meet us. She always meets us there. And third, because we didn’t have our car, we wouldn’t be making any take home purchases. That meant we actually had a fighting chance to walk out of there with a bill of less than $100. While that’s a good thing in this era of scrimping and saving, it also made us feel like we had to drink everything in sight.

Chris was happy to see Blind Pig on tap. For many in the Bay Area, Blind Pig is not an unusual offering, but when you live in a beer backwater like we do, that beer is like a gift from God. I, on the other hand, started out with a bang and opened a bottle of Auburn Alehouse’s Fool’s Gold for myself. Mistaking it for one of their lighter beers, this 7.8% brew sure made a fool out of me. I should have known then that it was going to be a long night.

Almanac's inaugural brew, Summer 2010

The beer Chris was most anxious to get his hands on was the newly released “Summer 2010” from Almanac Beer Company. With the slogan of “Farm to Barrel,” the brewery partners with local farmers for the ingredients in their barrel-aged brews. Almanac’s inaugural brew was a Belgian-Style Golden Ale made with four varieties of Sonoma County blackberries.

City Beer didn’t have any bottles chilled, so we made the best of it and had them put one in the fridge for us. (Remember, we didn’t have a car or backpacks to take it to go.) Thirty minutes really wasn’t enough chilling time, but it was still an amazing beer.  Summer 2010 had a citrusy taste from the late addition of Citra hops and the flavor from the berries was delicate, not overly sweet. My only gripe with our visit to City Beer was that Chris drinks faster than I do and kept refilling his glass with the Summer 2010. I think he ended up with most of the bottle.

A beautiful day in San Francisco for an Urban Beer Hike

Soon the time came for us to leave for the main event–Breast Fest. In preparation for our Seattle urban beer hike in a few weeks, we mapped our own three-mile hike to Fort Mason, the site of the festival. The weather was perfect, especially for a San Francisco summer. The sun was shining. The wind was mild and not too cool. We arrived to find that a line had already formed, but in no time it was moving and we were on our way into our first go at the festival that aims to “save the ta tas.”

Packed but not crowded...

The good thing about beer events at Fort Mason is that there is lots of space and you never feel crowded. And the good thing about purchasing tickets to the Breast Fest VIP session is that there is plenty of food. Good food. After grabbing our first beers (a Linden Street Urban People’s Common Lager for me and a Triple Rock IPAX for Chris), we headed straight for the table serving grilled chicken marinated in red wine. The guy served me a large chunk and I was more than grateful for the generous portion. This was the same chicken we were lucky enough to try at the Boonville Beer Festival in May and it was just as tasty. That was only the beginning, though. From there we tried some pulled pork, a white bean chili with chicken, and snacked on some yummy chips and salsa.

But, of course we were there for the beer. And the boobs. I had the pleasure of sipping on Needs More Dog Pale Lager from Oakland Brewing Company while I filled out my raffle tickets, the proceeds of which went to the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic, serving low income women with cancer. The highlight beers included Russian River Supplication, Triple Rock JBB Bitter, Moonlight Reality Czeck and Marin Brewing Tripel.

Merideth with Jack from Lost Coast

As the VIP session ended and the crowds grew, we retreated behind the Moylan’s/Marin Brewing table to chat with Fraggle from Beer Revolution, Mike Pitzker from the Celebrator Beer News and his wife Lisa, and Jeff Botz from BJ’s. My hat tips an extra special nod to Jack van Stone from Lost Coast. He came prepared to plunder all the beer at the fest in his pink ribbon pirate outfit. But instead of stealing all the treasure, he gave away pink ribbon bottle cap earrings to several very lucky wenches.

As all good things must come to an end, so did our time at Breast Fest 2011. We headed back to the East Bay with Fraggle, stopping at La Trappe for a quick Russian River Damnation and a package of 4505 Meats Chicharrones before heading to Beer Revolution for our final nightcap. It was nice to spend time with Fraggle, as he’s usually behind the bar and way too busy to have more than a tw0-minute conversation. I’m pretty sure I talked his ear off, though, so hopefully he won’t run away next time he sees me walk in the door at Beer Rev.

It’s days like these that make me really miss living in the Bay Area–seeing good friends, drinking amazing beer, enjoying beautiful weather in San Francisco. And to top it off, we supported a good cause. Remember…in the fight against breast cancer, it doesn’t matter if they’re big or small, the goal is to save them all!

View all the images from the 2011 Breast Fest