Thursday, February 11, 2010

SF Beer Week: Russian River at Pi Bar

Brewery Night: Russian River Brewing Co. plus Meet Brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo

1432 Valencia St.

February 9
3:00pm - 11:00pm
Admission: No Charge

So being that Pliny the Younger sold out at Russian River Brewery in 2 hours, my friend and I went as soon as we could to Pi Bar to get a taste of that crazy sought after beer. (You can read RR's letter to their fans expressing their apologies here) We were there by 3:45 and the keg was kicked by 5pm, unbeknownst to my husband who left work early and arrived by 5:15 just to taste his favorite beer. My friend and I managed to both have a 6oz pour and tried other beers thinking we could come back and have another glass. Considering it wasn't crowed at all- I counted 25 people in the bar until 5:15, I was in shock to hear it was kicked. We also looked at everyone's beers and it wasn't like people were chugging 3 pints of Pliny each, people were drinking other beers. So we were dumbfounded to hear it was gone. Personally, I think the keg was tapped the night before to owners or friends because there is no way a 5 gallon keg would be kicked that fast. So it was beyond disappointing to my husband and all of their other customers who walked in after 5pm. I know some people who came in and just left because of it- not a good way to start any good customer relations.  Not to mention that the majority of these beer events start before 6pm (not only at Pi Bar). Basically, the locals who work a normal job, love beer and year round support these establishments have no shot in hell to get any great rare beers, so it has become an event for tourists to travel here to get good beer. It's kind of a shame. Anyway, enough of my rantings.

I tried in order: Pliny the Younger, Supplication, Rejection, and Consecration.

Pliny the Younger- Imperial IPA & 10.75%. It poured a golden vitamin pee yellow with a touch of white cream for a head. It smelled of lemon, lime peel, pine, grass and hops. It tasted surprisingly sweet with a bitter grapefruit peel on the back of the throat. It left my mouth tingly and dry. 

Supplication-Brown Ale aged in Oak barrels with Cherries added & 7%. It poured a red rust color. It smelled of sour cherry, oak and a hint of malt. It tasted pucker sour with dried cherries, oak, and wood. The sour was on the side of my tongue. It is very wine like- pretty good. Bottles just came out of it, so you might want to pick some up at City Beer Store.

Rejection-Belgian inspired black beer brewed for Valentine's Day & 6.1%. It poured a cola brown. It smelled of malt, vanilla, caramel with some coffee notes. It tasted pretty much the same as the nose- vanilla, toffee, roasted malt and espresso. It was my friends' favorite beer of the evening- and he loves Pliny.

Consecration- Barrel aged sour ale with currants added & 10%. One of my all time favorite sours. It poured ruby red. It smelled of sour cherries, oak and funk. It tasted like dried currants, sour pucker, oak, wood and cabernet.  Very wine like and tasty.

Overall, it wasn't a bad experience. We got in early, got a table and had waitress service, which was nice. Although on a side note, if you buy a beer from the table, they charge you tax, which stinks because alcohol prices already have tax built into the price, so you get double taxed on beer. But they aren't the first or the last restaurant to do this. I am not a fan of their pizza either, as every time I get it it is always burnt and the crust is like a thick hard cracker. I wish it was more like Pizzeria Delfina, but they always have a great beer selection and anything other than their pizza on their menu has been pretty great (especially their polenta fries and home made rainbow cookies). Still, I don't understand the younger, but I hear a local bar here has a keg that they are saving for after SF Beer week for the actual locals to try some. Now that's customer service.


  1. That's a bummer about the Younger. With all the hype, you think they'd anticipate this...

    I went with a friend last night to their Anchor Steam night, which was pretty laid back. They had an Old Foghorn Barleywine with Maytag blue cheese that was to die for...

    Enjoy the rest of the week! Cheers!

  2. It also didn't help that I was yelled at for no reason because the owner could not find someone who ordered a sandwich from the bar. In the past she has been quite nice but this was not the way to treat people from the neighborhood who have spent a few hundred dollars at your establishment despite the fact that the pizza is burned and disappointing.

  3. Barleywine tends to always pair well with Blue Cheese! Yum.
    Glad you got out to an event!

  4. Pi Bar had 2 5-gallon kegs of the Younger. The first kicked at 5pm and they made the decision to save the other keg for the evening tasting rush. I don't blame them and you shouldn't either. They're good people and sell good beer at a reasonable price. Hell, I just had a full tulip pour of Supplication for $5 there Monday night.