Prison and Ales!

On July 25, 2009, in Brew Pubs, Craft Beer, Family and Friends, Travel, by Mark Ranes

Last weekend, we traveled to the Bay Area to tour Alcatraz on Friday and then hit the 9th Annual Microbreweries Battling Breast Cancer Brewfest at Marin Brewing, in Larkspur, on Saturday.


Arriving at Alcatraz

Friday afternoon, after a quick lunch at Pier 39, we queued up at Pier 33 to catch the ferry to Alcatraz.  I was surprised how windy it was on the bay, but the ride over to the island was uneventful.

A standard 5 x 9 foot Alcatraz cell

A standard 5 x 9 foot Alcatraz cell

Once we got to Alcatraz, we headed up to the actual prison building and after going through the shower area (don’t drop the soap:), we picked up the iPod-like self-guided audio tour units and spent about 90 minutes checking out all things Alcatraz. I was unaware of the extensive military history of Alcatraz, and the years it spent as a prison were incredibly interesting. The tour is well worth the time and expense.

We spent night with our friends Eric And Patty, in Moraga, and we enjoyed several vintage barleywines that Eric had been cellering.  We chilled and then enjoyed a 1992 Old Knucklehead, 1993 Old Crustacean and 1999 Bigfoot.

Three vintage barleywines!

Three vintage barleywines!

The Old Crustacean had lost its carbonation, but was tasty just the same. The best of the bunch was the Old Knucklehead with wonderful sherry-like flavors.  The Bigfoot was also quite nice:)  We also enjoyed several Speakeasy Big Daddy IPAs.

Three warm Brewfesters!

Three warm Brewfesters!

Saturday morning we headed over to the Orinda BART station and caught a train to the San Francisco Embarcadero station.  We walked two blocks to the ferry building and bought round-trip tickets to Larkspur Landing. The ferry over to Larkspur was filled with twenty-something kids who were enjoying the gamut of swill beers on the way over to the Brewfest.  After getting off the ferry in Larkspur, and a five minute walk to the Larkspur Landing courtyard, we bought our Brewfest wrist bands and hit the event.

Toast! A couple Old Rasputin Russian imperial stouts and a wheat ale

Toast! A couple Old Rasputin Russian imperial stouts and a wheat ale

Larkspur Landing courtyard is arranged in a crescent shape, with all of the businesses arranged around the outside.  There were many great breweries that were arranged around the inner rim of the courtyard, under canopies.  The weather was warm, in the mid-80s, and there were lots of attendees, so we spent a fair amount of time just navigating around the event, and waiting in lines for samples.  We were some of the more vintage folks in the crowd.  We spent a fair amount of time grabbing a sample, and then enjoying it in the limited available shade.

My one rant with this event, and brewfests in general, are the fools who get to the front of the line, get their taster glass filled, and then stand there and talk forever to the brewery folks.  Jeez – once your glass is full, get the hell out of the way! There are people waiting patiently in line behind you!

Me and Vinnie Cilurzo - my hero!

Me and Vinnie Cilurzo - my hero!

The highlight of the day for me was chatting with Vinnie Cilurzo, of Russian River Brewing Company.  Vinnie is a rock star in the craft brewing industry, and I’ve been fortunate to hear him speak recently at NHC, as well as briefly chatting with him at this event.  Russian River makes one of my top five favorite ales, Pliny the Elder, and I got to tell Vinnie that he is one of my heros:)

The 9th Annual Microbreweries Battling Breast Cancer Brewfest was a great, well organized event and I suspect we’ll attend again in the future.  Using public transportation to travel to the brewfest is the easy, and responsible, way to go:)

One Response to Prison and Ales!

  1. Mark Ranes says:

    Ales I remember tasting at the Brewfest:

    Marin Brewing’s IPA
    Moylan’s IPA
    Seabright’s The Blur IPA
    Seabright’s Sacrilicious Red Ale
    Drake’s Denogginizer IIPA
    North Coasts Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
    Russian River’s Pliny the Elder
    Lagunita’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
    Bear Republic’s Racer 5
    Moon Light’s Reality Czeck Pilsner
    Speakeasy’s Double Daddy IIPA

    There were probably others that I don’t remember … 🙂

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