Mikkeller Bar SF

After an extended ‘soft’ opening, Danish gypsy brewer Mikkell Borg Bjergsø’s project with Oakland’s Trappist and Trappist Provisions co-owner Chuck Stilphen Mikkeller Bar San Francisco officially opens today with events continuing throughout the weekend. Mikkell, who’ve we’ve featured previously, is the brewer of the award winning Mikkeller beers and has two bars in Copenhagen. This is the first in the United States.

The bar offers 42 thoughtfully selected taps including not only Mikkeller products but also local favorites and other offerings from around the world. On our visits so far the list has also featured a handful of Mikkeller beers brewed uniquely for the location. Notably, the bar boasts that it is the first in the world to have individually temperature controlled taps so each beer can be served at the ideal temperature for that style. As a nerd who has spent who knows how much time over the years cradling ice cold Belgian Quads in his hands waiting for them to warm, this personally might be the most exciting aspect of the place.

The décor is a mash up as well. The look and feel of the Tenderloin bar calls to mind the Trappist more than the operations in Copenhagen but an abundance of art from Keith Shore, the man responsible for the always enjoyable Mikkeller bottle labels, helps supply a uniquely Mikkeller identity to the place. This along with familiar faces on staff from the Trappist and Chuck’s ØL Beercafe in Walnut Creek made it very easy for to come in and feel at home right away. Not to be overlooked is Mikkeller Bar SF’s convenient location at 34 Mason, literally steps away from the Powell Street BART station. Since Mikkell is known not to be shy about bumping up the ABV on some of his beers, a safe escape route is key. If you feel like braving the likely crowds this weekend you’ll be rewarded with some very special beers they’ve set aside for the occasion. For less of a crowd, it’s also a great late night stop, open until 2 AM Thursday through Saturday and until midnight the rest of the week. The full kitchen is open until 11 PM daily with a limited menu available until midnight.

See their official website for the complete opening weekend schedule and an updated tap list:

http://www.mikkellerbar.com/

Sante Adairius Bright Seas & Moonlight Brewing Just Enough Rope

We’re double fisting on this edition of Beer of The Week, showcasing two local beers instead of one. Enjoy!

Our first beer of the week is Bright Seas Blonde from Sante Adairius Rustic Ales in Capitola. Not all sources include Capitola within the technical borders of the San Francisco Bay Area but we’ll say it is, because it’s not so far away, because we love the area, and because we want to claim this exciting brewery as one of our own. This Belgian style ale is aged in used Pinot Noir barrels, where it is exposed to wild yeast and bacteria that impart a refreshing citrusy tart acidity and a very dry finish. We highly recommend you try this and any other Sante Adairius offering you happen across, whether down at their brewery or at any of the beer bars in the greater Bay Area lucky enough to get their product.

ABV: 6.2%
Style: American Wild Ale

Our second beer is Just Enough Rope from Moonlight Brewing in Fulton. This blonde lager is also a tart one, a characteristic that seems to fit well with the warmer months. Moonlight is always clever with the names of their beers so we’ll assume the title of this beer is a play on the term ‘ropey’ which refers to an infection in a beer (usually an unintentional one). We can guarantee nothing was accidental about the microorganisms that went into making this beer though. Head brewer Brian Hunt is among the most talented and respected in the local beer scene and he put together a very interesting one here. While not quite as bracingly sour as our other beer of the week, the wild bacteria definitely do their thing, supplying a subtle but lingering tartness and a deep earthy quality unlike any lager we’ve tried to date. We recommend this one for the adventurous beer drinkers out there. This beer has limited distribution and the brewery is keg only, so watch out for it at establishments where Moonlight beers are usually sold.

ABV: 5.2%
Style: Sour Blonde Lager

Drakes Brewing Aroma Coma

Bay Area on Tap will be featuring a different new or seasonal local beer each week. Our first beer is a summer seasonal from one of our favorite local breweries, Aroma Coma from Drakes Brewing Company.

The annual arrival of this seasonal IPA gives us yet another reason to love the summer months in the Bay Area. Hops function in beer as much for aroma as for bittering, a fact that is definitely not lost on the good folks at Drakes. This one lives up to its fragrant moniker, with a bright floral nose that’s among the best of the style. Like many of their other hoppy offerings, this beer manages to showcase the menagerie of citrus and flowery flavors from the aggressive hopping without assaulting the taste buds with uneven bitterness.

Also watch out for Aroma Coma’s enjoyable antipodean little sister Aroma Prieta, which is the same beer brewed entirely with New Zealand hops. Both are available at the Drakes Barrel House in San Leandro and will be making appearances at better beer bars around the Bay Area over the next several weeks.

Style: American IPA
ABV: 6.75
IBU: 75

*Additionally, Drakes has announced triple hopped, cask conditioned versions of both beers will be available at the following events around Northern California:
http://drinkdrakes.com/site/triple-hopped-aroma-swap/

Tribune Tavern

Although the Tribune Tavern is not a beer specific place, the Tribune building is such a big part the iconography of the East Bay and of our site we couldn’t let its arrival go by without comment. The restaurant, which opened in the Oakland landmark April 2013, is partnership between Temoor Noor of Grand Lake Tavern in the Grand Lake neighborhood and Chris Pastena of Chop Bar in Jack London Square. Among the first things we noticed on our visit was the reasonable pricing. There was clearly a conscious effort to keep the menu approachable from a cost standpoint. The staff was friendly, enthusiastic, and helpful. Too often when we ask for ordering advice at a restaurant the answer is something to the effect of “everything here is good” but our server actually had an opinion and helped us make our final decisions.

We ultimately decided on two of their smaller plates. We started with a salad of kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, pickled onions, and walnuts with clothbound cheddar. Next was the ox tongue with celery root, tarragon, capers and radish. Both were excellent and we were particularly impressed with the broad and balanced combination of flavors in the salad.

No article on Bay Area on Tap without mentioning the beer list. We’ll remind you this is not a beer-centric location, so tuck your craft beer nerd ire when you see Blue Moon on the list under Blue Moon Brewing Co and not under Miller Coors. It’s not that kind of place. Instead focus on the small but well-chosen list of mostly local beers. On our visit they had such Bay Area standouts as Drake’s 1500, Linden St Burning Oak Black Lager, Dying Vines Old Brick Bitter, Anchor California Lager and several other Northern California craft options. They also feature a solid wine list and a full bar for your non beer drinking friends.

We notice this place shares a lot of DNA with Noor’s Grand Tavern, if you’re a fan that place (which we are) you’ll also enjoy this one. We’re very happy for the addition of a local dining option where we can enjoy reasonably priced, well-crafted dishes, along with some of our favorite beers. We’ll definitely be returning soon. Next time with bigger appetites so we can try some of their entrees.

Line 51 Rolls Into Oakland

 

Bay Area on Tap had a chance to sit down with the man behind Line 51 Brewing, PT Lovern, at his Oakland home last week to chat about the upcoming launch, responsible drinking, and to geek out about all things East Bay.


PT with his homebrew conical. Welded locally using kegs purchased from his favorite brewery.

As East Bay natives and AC Transit veterans, the “Line 51” bus route (which runs from Rockridge BART, through downtown and uptown, and on to Fruitvale BART) is a familiar one to us at Bay Area on Tap. We had to be curious though, why Lovern chose it to represent his beers. He explained that not only is it the line he and his drinking/brewing buddies (known as the Booze Brothers) often used to get to and from the better beer bars here in Oakland safely, he also chose this name because he felt it was important to advocate using public transit when imbibing, especially since some of his beers are on the stronger side. In addition, the name helps add some specificity to the place where he lives, crafts his recipes, and where his beer will be available at launch. PT plans to start by distributing his beers at establishments on and around the 51 bus line and grow his business from there. In the course of this strategy, he’s chosen not to limit himself to bars already established as beer geek destinations. After all, adding a few good craft beers on tap is all it takes to turn a decent local bar into something truly awesome. Line 51 seems primed to do just that.

The first beer to launch will be a hoppy red ale dubbed Red Death IPA, it’s name a subtle reference to a work by Oakland’s most well known novelist. Lovern related that he had been experimenting with red malts for years and found that an assertive hop profile could really help anchor the malt character for a bold, yet pleasantly balanced, ale. At 7 percent ABV and a healthy 70 IBU’s this one moves firmly into the IPA category, a style PT says he found to be in high demand when he started asking bar goers in the area what types of beer they’d like to see more of. Early in 2013, Line 51 plans to release a second offering called One Inch Punch. Most will recognize this as a shout out to the technique made famous by Bruce Lee, who opened one of his first martial arts studios a stones throw from PT’s home. We had a chance to try this one as well, and were impressed with how well the hop complexity shined through on a 6 percent 51 IBU beer. We were also lucky enough to sample some of the exciting offerings Line 51 has slated for release slightly further down the line. We’ve been asked not to leak any spoilers quite yet, but expect some highly enjoyable beers built on adventurous recipes with a lot more clever Oakland cultural references.

Watch out for the Line 51 tap handle at Oakland area bars, hand molded by brewer PT Lovern himself.

PT’s local pride is evident not only in the names of his beers but is obvious after only speaking with him a few minutes about the city where he lives. Although for now his beers will be released through a partnership with San Jose’s Hermitage, long term he’d love to open up a production brewery of his own right here in Oakland if his beers are as well received as he hopes they are. The thirsty people of Oakland won’t have to wait long to get their first look at Red Death IPA. There are two release parties this week, Tuesday the 13th at Cato’s Ale House 3891 Piedmont Ave at 5pm, Wednesday the 14th at Ben & Nicks Bar and Grill 5612 College Ave at 7pm, and a third at Kerry House 4086 Piedmont Avenue on the 24th. Get on a bus, get on BART, and get in line. We’ll see you there.