Magnolia and 21st Amendment: BRU/SFO

Who knew the quickest way to Belgium would be by MUNI? Throughout the month of November, the Magnolia Pub and Brewery on Haight Street has been collaborating with the 21st Amendment Brewery on the BRU/SFO project, “an excursion of Belgian-style and Belgian-influenced beers, six from each brewery.” 
The six Belgian styles featured at Magnolia this month are: Deep Ellum Dubbel; Tweezer Tripel; Gris-Gris, a Belgian grisette; Gordo, a pumpkin wit; Destiny Unblonde, a Belgian pale; and Paint it Black, a Belgian dark. Meanwhile, 21A is  featuring Via, a Belgian single; St. Martin’s Abbey; Noir de Blanc, a chocolate wit; Brew Libre! Ou Mourir, a Belgian IPA; Monk’s Blood, a Belgian dark strong; and Baby Horse, a quadruple. 

Magnolia’s Gris-Gris, beautifully poured in a 13-ounce glass (top) is a very pleasant, refreshing, light-colored, low-alcohol (3.2% abv), saison-style session beer that would be perfect with a midday burger or salad. On the other end of the spectrum – and at the other side of town – 21A’s Monk's Blood (above) is considerably less sessionable at 8.5 abv, but equally delicious both on its own and with a burger. The deep mahogany Monk’s Blood features dark Belgian candi sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean and dried Mission figs and is aged in oak. It’s also available for a limited time in cans in a four-pack “that rises up in revolt against common notions of what canned beers can be.”
But these two San Francisco brewpubs don’t just stop in Belgium. Proprietor and brewer Dave McLean at Magnolia is as fond of cask-conditioned English ales as he is the Grateful Dead, whose music seems to be the brewpub’s signature soundtrack. McLean’s cask-conditioned Blue Bell Bitter (above) took us on an excursion to the type of “real ale” that is becoming more popular in England through the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) movement. 21A also makes a very nice bitter, called Elizabeth Street Bitter, which weighs in at 5.2 abv.
Magnolia and 21A are to be applauded not only for saving us air fare to Europe by providing us with a Continental ale experience here in San Francisco, but for demonstrating that classic ale styles are a natural complement to fine food.

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