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INTO THE BREW A Tale of Two Toronados & SFBeerWeek By Sam Tierney

Sam Tierney, Toronado San Francisco. Photo: Kayla Coleman

Sam began his love affair with great beer while studying and traveling abroad in Europe during his junior year at the Uni- versity of California, Santa Barbara. Upon returning home to California in late 2007, he opened the eyes of then-roommate Ryan Lamb to the world of craft beer, especially the amazing beer scene in his own hometown of San Diego. Sam began homebrewing shortly after and has since won multiple awards. After graduating from UCSB, Sam decided to go back to school to become a professional brewer and graduated this past December from the Siebel Institute/Doemens Academy International Diploma Course. He is currently seeking employment in the local market…

city, some classic metal playing on the jukebox, and a perfect pint of Moonlight’s Reality Czeck. I knew from that mo- ment that I had found something special. Not that Toronado is a newcomer to the Northern California beer scene—far from it—they were one of the original bars in the region to support the fledgling micro- brewing industry that has developed into the bustling local beer scene that we enjoy today. But for me, this was a monumen- tal moment in my development as a beer drinker. Toronado just bleeds beer culture from its weathered (and paraphernalia- covered) walls. Sure, I had heard the cautionary stories of beer-nazi bartenders and rough crowds. I won’t go so far as to say that those cautionary tales are without merit, but the overall mystique is what makes Toronado the legendary bar that it is. So legendary, in fact, that several brew- ers have created special ales to celebrate its longevitiy, including Russian River’s Toronado 20th Anniversary Ale and The Lost Abbey’s Cable Car. Toronado and I both celebrated our twenty-fourth birthdays this year. Founder Dave Keene’s hard work over the last couple-dozen years has turned the small venue in the Lower Haight district into one of the premier beer bars in the world. Toronado held its first Barleywine Festival in 1994, and it returns this year on Febru- ary 19th for its 18th annual weekend of strong ales. The Barleywine Festival has become legendary in the local beer scene, with people traveling from all over the world to attend. Last year I ran into several Scandinavian beer geeks who had flown to the Bay Area for Beer Week. There were fifty-five barley wines on tap at the festival last year, and I would expect just as many, if not more, this year. Expect plenty of regular as well as barrel-aged barley wines from brewers from San Diego to Anchorage & plenty of eastern locales.

I Even if you have never been up to

the Bay Area, the Toronado name should be no stranger. In the spring of 2008, Ian Black, who had managed the San Fran- cisco Toronado for over a decade, opened a second location on 30th Street in North Park. Walking into the San Diego location,

remember my first visit to Toronado in San Francisco like it was yester- day: a breezy spring afternoon in the

Toronado San Diego

Toronado San Francisco

you instantly feel some similarities to the original: the half-door, the overhead beer menu, the glassware behind the bar. Then there are the differences: it’s obviously much newer-feeling, serves food (the original doesn’t, but does allow you to bring in food. I recommend Rosamunde Sausage Grill next door), the 50 taps are all in the corner allowing a direct draw system, and there’s a nice outdoor patio in the back that is perfect on a summer (or San Diego winter) night. The bottled beer (about 300 choices) is all on display in coolers behind the bar, and in all my visits to the San Francisco location I’ve never had a bottled beer. Out of sight, out of mind.

For the photogenic set out there,

Toronado San Diego is running a contest until February 13th that features their new photo booth located in back by the patio. They are offering up some pretty sweet beer-prizes to the winners, so get on down there with your best bitter beer face. Results will be announced and all entries displayed on a corkboard by February 20th.

San Francisco Beer Week February 11th marks the start of the third annual San Francisco Beer Week. Anyone who has made the trek up to the Bay Area either of the last two years knows just how amazing this ten-day collection of beer events is. Last year there were 230 events during SF Beer

Week, with more expected this year. The Barleywine Festival is just one of the several “Premiere” events going on, which also include the SF Brewers Guild Opening Gala on the 11th, The Double IPA Fest at The Bistro on the 12th (SD brewers always have a strong showing here, go figure), and the Celebrator 23rd Anniversary Party at Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley on the 20th. Another festival that is sure to be a must-attend based on the past couple years is Super Sour (and Barrel Aged) Sunday at Triple Rock and Jupiter in Berkeley on the 13th. Torona- do hasn’t posted any of their other events for the week as of press time, but I would put good money on their being some very good featured-brewery nights. San Diego Brewers are actually making a strong showing this year, with a handful of events going on during the week: Ballast Point is going to be brewing a collaboration beer at Triple Rock on Valentines Day (which is open for anyone who wants to check it out), and then doing an IPA firkin throwdown between their Sculpin IPA and Triple Rock’s IIMAXX. They are also doing a beer dinner at the Waterfront Hotel in Oakland with The Beer chef on the 15th, another one at Bar Crudo on the 16th, and Meet- the-Brewer nights at Monks Kettle on the 16th and City Beer on the 17th. Green Flash brewmaster Chuck Silva is going to be at The Jug Shop on the 14th for a special tasting, and Green Flash beers will also be taking over Ro- samunde Sausage Grill in The Mission district on the 16th. Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing/Lost Abbey will be at City Beer on the 15th for a “sipping session”, and will be head- ing over the bridge for another Meet- the-Brewer night at Beer Revolution in Oakland the next day. To wrap it all up, Public House (the beer bar connected to AT&T Park) is having a San Diego Breweries Night on the 19th. Not that you would drive all the way up there just for the same old same old…

8- Cask and draft at Toronado SD

For more information and events, check out

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