San Francisco Stars #8: Calicraft Oaktown Brown, at Hermitage Brewing, San Jose, California
Date: July 6, 2019 —
The Story— Calicraft Brewing is a relative newcomer in Walnut Creek, California. Walnut Creek was an early leader in the first explosion of craft brewing – we visited Walnut Creek Brewing and a Faultline outpost in 1997. But it was also one of the leaders in the first big decline; both of those places are gone, but replaced by a trio of newcomers in the second wave of craft brewing. Calicraft brewed at Hermitage Brewery in San Jose for several years, and despite the fact it has its own digs now as one of the Walnut Creek trio, apparently still brews this popular beer at Hermitage
We tasted it at Keystone, a bar-restaurant across the street from the dazzling Marriott Marquis. The Marquis has a fancier beer bar on the ground level, but we liked the intimacy of Keystone and the range of very local beers on their tap list. It’s a short walk from Union Square and the cable car terminal at the Powell St. station.
The Beer– Very roasty and chewy and dark “brown” ale. Very dark roasts include, we think, some black patent. It finishes with a tasty nuttiness with plenty of coffee and even some toffee on the way out. It’s a stout of a brown beer, but very tasty whatever the name.
Value — Good. Eight bucks for an honest pint would be “fair” in many places, but it’s close to a “very good” price in San Francisco.
Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.
We just got back from a week in San Francisco. We hadn’t been there in eleven years and the remarkably vibrant beer scene we experienced then has become, well, even vibranter. Ellie, poor girl, had to work long hours during the day while I got to roam the streets checking out the best places to find great beers. At least when Ellie got off work I had places to take her before she crashed for the night. We’ll post a week or two of Beers of the Day by the Bay before returning to research for our book on Inns and Breweries of the Mid-Atlantic.
Interestingly, the downtown area of San Francisco, while awash with beers from the surrounding areas, has few brewing spots of its own. In that regard it reminds us of New York, where you have to leave Manhattan and go to Brooklyn to really find a nest of breweries. Away from downtown, several brewery taps thrive and public transportation gets you almost anywhere. Beyond the city limits, of breweries ring the city, and many of them produce exceptionally good beers and the myriad of tap houses all over town tend to focus on local beers. Name the style you like and you can find an excellent version of it, though at a price.
We’re often asked to share our tasting notes on over 33,000 beers; this blog is in answer to those requests. Not all our notes, though. The great beer writer Michael Jackson admirably followed the Thumper Rule, and we’ll try to do the same. (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”) All the beers we post are from the top half of our ratings and most are from the top quarter. Of greater value, we think, are the stories behind the beers, and we try to give you enough about the brewery, the style and the places to find great beer to help you on your own beer journeys. At CulturAle Press we try to write books and publish posts that will help you “Drink Well and Travel Safely.”