Presented by the Rotary Club of Fisherman's Wharf, the Brews by the Bay event was held Saturday, October 26th from 2 to 6 PM inside Pier 45 at of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. The windy but sunny and warm weather accommodated a pre-festival walking tour of the Embarcadero and all the seafood vendors at the Wharf. Inside, the massive 150 by 1000 foot single room was divided by colorful cubicles, each with four tasting booths back-to-back. Even when the crowds were the heaviest there was never a problem quickly getting a pour at any of the sixty participating breweries. The 63 participating breweries had no problem accommodating the more than 1000 people in attendance. The volunteers were instructed to fill the tasting glass to a level equal to three ounces but there were no annoying beer police harassing pourers or patrons. The center stage hosted Gator Beat and their blend of Zydeco and Cajun sounds. For the Epicureans, a small pavilion offered demonstrations of cooking with beer led by local chefs. Food samples ranged from San Francisco French bread, to Burger King burgers and Ben & Jerry ice creams. For the sports fans, a celebrity pro billiard challenge featured competitions at two pool tables with a view of the crowds at Fisherman's Wharf. For the beer tasters, fresh water was available everywhere, unfortunately rinse buckets were not. Also in adequate supply were the restrooms. The outdoor port-a-potties had no lines and even offered views of the submarine parked next door and Alcatraz just off shore.
Each brewer could bring their choice of beers and most booths had the brewers themselves on hand to talk about the offerings. As expected, Northern California was well represented and a number of smaller breweries chose to participate in this particular event. From Blue Water Brewing was the IPA with its very sharp hop aroma and flavor. The brew on premises operation of Brew City had their light-bodied and highly hopped IPA along with their medium-bodied and malty Oktoberfest. Devil Mountain brought their Five Malt Ale and true to its name, its ruby red color was accompanied by a clean, dry malty flavor. Mendocino Brewing set up an impressive looking booth and poured their Black Hawk Stout, a medium-bodied, fairly dry variety with a notable roasted character. The Golden Gate Pale Ale had a hop over malt balance with a medium body and a very nice mouth feel. Moylans Brewing brought five styles in 5 gallon soda canisters, with the Celts Ale having a great balance of both hops and malt in the flavor. The Brown Ale from Redwood Coast Brewing had a light malty flavor and was noticeably dry. Rockies Brewing in Boulder, Colorado brought bottles of their Fall Fest. Dry in overall character, the crisp flavor was balanced toward the hoppy side. An interesting find was the Maple Ale from Saint Croix, the smooth mouthfeel was matched with a nice blend of sweetness and malt flavors. The San Rafael Brewing crew brought their Red Diamond with its crisp hop over malt flavor. A flavorful brew from Showshoe Brewing was the Scarlet Ale, the hoppy aroma was followed by an equally hoppy flavor. From Sutter Creek came the McLadds Scottish Ale, light-bodied, the dry flavor was balanced hops over malt. San Francisco's newly opened Thirsty Bear showed their Yerba Buena, (no mention of a "special" ingredient) with its nice hoppy aroma and flavor. From the most impressive tap handles poured the ESB from Wizard Brewing, light-bodied, the very hoppy aroma carried through to the flavor and finish. Anheuser Busch chose this occasion to pour their Hefeweizen, clear!, light esters in the aroma and flavor, its overall character was sharp and dry, bordering on tart, with a crisp and clean finish.
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - October, 1996
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