The newly opened Burger Bar on the sixth floor of Macy's in Union Square, San Francisco, has one of the best selections of taps downtown. In keeping with the growing emphasis of pairing beer with food, Burger Bar's drinks book devotes 24 of its 28 pages to beers on tap or in bottles, including a Burger Blonde from Speakeasy in San Francisco made specifically for the restaurant. Acclaimed chef Hubert Keller's third Burger Bar (the others are in St. Louis and Las Vegas) is open until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and until 11 p.m. the rest of the week. Emphasis is on burgers, as the name implies, so I tried the sliders: a mini-buffalo burger with carmelized onions, an Angus beef burger with bacon, and a country natural beef mini-burger with cheese. They were all decent -- my favorite being the buffalo burger -- and paired well with my Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA. However, they weren't cheap at $12.75. Also, the ale was served in a very chilled glass, which didn't help bring out the flavor and aroma of the hops. Still, if you find yourself thirsty for a beer and hungry for a nosh in Union Square Macy's, it's not a bad stop.
Burger Bar San Francisco
Monk's Kettle makes a valiant attempt at escaping the pub fare that characterizes most beer bars. The Mission District gastropub does serve burgers/sandwiches, but they're made with lamb, salmon, turkey, pulled pork and chicken breast. Crispy, skinny fries come with chipotle ketchup, herbed aioli and curry aioli. All dishes are accompanied by a beer pairing suggestion.
How about some moules to go with those nice frites, or a cassoulet. Monk's Kettle's saisons, altbiers, tripels, lambics and biere de garde deserve more hearty dishes to sink their teeth into.
Two pubs in the Rockridge District in Oakland, also have a decent selection of good beer. Barclays Restaurant and Pub has 30 beers on tap every day. On tap this week were Sierra Nevada’s Triple, a Belgian tripel ale, and the Bear Republic 2009 Wet Hop Ale. As you can see from the sign, Barclays celebrated its 18th anniversary on Monday: Buy the first pint at the regular price and get the second one for 20 cents.
Lucky 13 is a veritable beer oasis in mostly sleepy Alameda. In addition to Pliny and several other craft beers, Lucky 13 has a good selection of Belgians on tap and in bottles. No food, though.
Things not to do at the cheese store in the parking structure on Durant in Berkeley.
The Shattuck Hotel, across the street from the Jupiter Brewing company, also had a surprisingly good selection of craft beers, pictured with manager Gerald Murphy.
BBQ is among the many classic beer/food pairings, and lovers of beer and Q could do a lot worse than sipping a Drake's IPA with their ribs or pulled pork sandwich at Looney's Smokehouse Barbecue. Another classic pairing with beer is pizza, and one of the best is Zachary's on Telegraph, which also boasts a pretty decent selection of craft beer.
Tomorrow: my beer odyssey with Chris Baker continues in Oakland and Berkeley