Anchor Steam, Michael Jackson, and Weed

Anchor Steam, Michael Jackson, and Weed

I finally took the Anchor Brewery tour. Pretty sweet.

We were told that due to our small group, we were being given special access. True? I’ve no idea. But they did allow us to get right up to the big tanks where they make the yeast. Here’s some video of the inside…

And here is some random suds coming out of random steampunk valves on the wall…

As for the Michael Jackson thing, the cagey little tour guide assured us it was not THAT Michael Jackson.

But then, she also said it was against Anchor policy to admit that hops are related to weed. I didn’t ask because I wanted to smoke some, or even graft hops and cannabis together; I was just curious after hearing it mentioned on Food Network.

In any case, it looks like the recent sale of the brewery isn’t affecting its size or business model, and so it remains an impressive feat that they crank out all of their product from that single location.

The Cheapest Beers

The Cheapest Beer, San Francisco

Steve Robles spends his free time wisely, and passes the savings on to us:

Whether you’re unemployed, underemployed, or squirreling away your, ahem, nuts in terror of the post–American Empire Mad Max economapocalypse to come, these are hard times for beer lovers who like their pints out in public. You need cheap suds. Here’s a guide to staying within your meager budget while enjoying an oat soda or 10 to help you swallow the bitter pill that is the Bay Area economy. And cheer up, you ol’ bugger: it’s beer o’ clock!

SFBG has the whole story.

Bar Unknown: Pass Time

Bar Unknown: Pass Time, San Francisco

Only a special kind of bar can prompt philosophical thought by its very name on the sign. In the case of “Pass Time,” that question is: “Typo, or command?”

If it’s a typo, one imagines what the intended spelling was, and the implications regarding the vision of the proprietors. “Pastime,” as in, America’s favorite, means one thing, while “Past Time” means another.

But the other possibility – that the sign contains no mis-spelling, and is indeed insisting that those who enter do so with the ambition of staying a while – is even more intriguing. After all, we still are not being told whether there is any sound reason to enter this place. Do I come in, sit at the bar, oder round after round, and content myself with “passing time” as you ordered me too, simply because I was already a little tipsy and kind of suggestible, so why not? Or is there something else on offer to make my extended stay worth it beyond pleasing your desire to dictate my destiny?

Or, does the philosophical enquiry go even deeper than that, with the sign uttering a metaphysical command to all who are conscious and may happen to read it, regardless of whether they enter the establishment beneath?

Remember the childhood game, Why-Are-You-Hitting-Yourself? The question is asked of the playground victim merely to add a little ironic humiliation to the pain, while using superior strength to wallop them with their own hand. It’s pure cruelty, and yet it teaches the victim an important lesson, does it not? It teaches that often we are punished by malevolent forces beyond our control, forces which may taunt us as if we could act to make it not so. But we cannot. Perhaps the words above the entrance to the bar should read:

To all who see this sign, please understand that, as belligerent as it seems, there can be no such command as “pass time,” for we all must. We are born, we pass time, and then we die. Oh, and if you try to come here to forget this truth, we won’t make it easy for you.

Bar Unknown: Pass Time, San Francisco

Well, the time I passed at Pass Time did not entirely lack a sense of malevolence. Hernando, the older Colombian gentleman next to me at the bar, told me he’d gone to high school in Medellín with Pablo Escobar. I chose to believe this while looking at the many photos of the Three Stooges pinned up over the booze. I tried not to notice the toothless woman at the end of the bar laughing and screaming in Spanish.

I never shook the nagging mysteries of the name of this quintessential neighborhood dive, and in fact came to feel quite comfortable with them. The Cazadores burned in just the right way, and the sun set.

And as the bartender refilled my glass without a prompt, I thought I heard him ask, “Why are you hitting yourself?”

View Spots Unknown Map in a larger map

Albion Brewery & Castle

Albion Brewery & Castle, San Francisco

In 1870, an enterprising English immigrant to San Francisco built a castle home on top of a secret cavern spring and used its cold, pure water to brew beer.

Albion Porter & Ale Brewery lasted until 1919 when Prohibition forced it to close. It was resurrected in 1928 as Albion Water Company, selling bottled water, which it did until 1947.

It was almost destroyed to make room for a freeway in 1961, but survived. It stands today on its original spot in Hunter’s Point. The caverns still exist as well, and the spring generates 10,000 gallons of fresh water every day, which empties into the Bay. (The castle once served as the office for Laughing Squid‘s web hosting tech support crew.)

It went up for sale in September 2009 as a private residence for $2.9 million. Does anyone know its current status?

Here are some brand new photos of the caverns, posted to the Oakland Museum of California‘s Facebook page.

Info links: 1, 2, 3, 4

Albion Brewery & Castle, San Francisco

If the Trailer’s a-Rocking

I don’t expect much of a Monday night.

But a friend was having a get together at Gestalt before returning to do the Lord’s work in Africa, so I dragged my butt out. It was a crazy night. The high point was when we followed some bumping music to the above Airstream camper parked in front of DoubleDutch.

When security from DD tried to tell the silver-trailer-dweller to turn his music down, the response was not positive. “You don’t come into my house and tell me how to live!” was part of the tirade.

The bouncer backed down.

The Spitfire Rose

Spitfire Rose San Francisco

As the appeal of overlit, overcool “dives” wanes for yours truly, unassuming neighborhood haunts like Mission Terrace’s Spitfire Rose (allegedly named after the British WWII fighter plane) continue to fascinate.

The Yelp page has that enticing combo of mixed experiences and low review count that raises more questions than it answers. That’s all it took for the SU Corps of Urban Drunkards (SUCUD) to go on its inaugural raid. More after the jump.
Continue reading The Spitfire Rose

The Police Sketch Fits the Crime

San Francisco Pickpockets Sketch

It’s hard to sympathize with iPhone thefts. Accounts like this don’t help:

My first thought as you saddled up to the bar next us while we ate our dinner was, “Hmm odd couple”. A white woman with dark blond hair, relatively tall, in her mid to late 30s, and a short black man, in his mid to late 50s. The woman was wearing a black jacket, and the man was wearing what can only be described as an over-sized khaki “zoot suit”. But whatever, it’s San Francisco right?

But when it becomes clear that the victim is so utterly grief-stricken that they rally all their design-school skills to absolutely fucking guarantee that this never happens to another human being, with wonders like the drawing above…well, I come right back around to feeling their pain. (Almost – the thieves bought GROCERIES for christ sake.)

Oh, and by the way:

If anyone stumbles this pair casing other restaurants around town, please call the San Francisco police (553-1141) and leave a message for officer C. Leung #12281, with regard to case #091094361. Thanks.

But what’s the number for the Fashion Police?

Weapons of Jazz Destruction?

I can only hope and pray that I’m reading this right. The fascist tactics of neo-Footloose killjoy cop James Dudley are finally being challenged the way they should be:

Performing on the steps of City Hall will be the Jazz Mafia, an acoustical jazz group. Performing inside City Hall will be the night life industry and their customers who too are citizens of this great urban metropolis.

The War on the War on Fun is about to enter its next phase. If any of you are planning to be at the hearing, please be sure send pics.