Recently a small group of us went to the International Beer Festival San Francisco which was held at Fort Mason. Since we'd been there before, and especially since our intrepid guide Alex (aka, Brew Magellan) was adamant that we study the layout in advance in order to navigate the shoals of the hundreds of different brewers and arrive at the proper ports of call, we employed a targeted "surgical strike" approach to the affair rather than the typical start-at-the-first booth-and-work-your-way-back approach that most folks adopt. We were thirsty too, but we are discriminating as well ...
The standouts from the festival:
- Anything made by Unibroue, based in Quebec but with strong Belgian ties. Best of their best was La Fin du Monde (a Trappist-style triple fermentation golden ale) and Blanche de Chambly (a Belgian-style white ale).
- Duvel, the classic Belgian golden ale. It's a classic for a reason.
- Leffe, another Belgian Abbey-style ale (yes, it seems that there is a trend here). At least we settled one disagreement with Eamonn as to the pronunciation (hint, it's the French "lef" not the Flemish "leffay").
- Brewery Ommegang; in a blind taste-test you would never guess that this was an American (not Belgian) producer. Their Rare Vos, Ommegang and Hennepin were all excellent, and increasingly available in specialty markets and even Whole Foods.