SAN FRANCISCO — Man’s best friend. A loyal companion who is with us through thick and thin. Something you’re happy to see after a long, hard, day.
Of course I’m referring to beer.
Man’s other best friend is featured heavily in ThirstyBear Organic Brewery’s “Best in Show” competition, which celebrates the release of one of their new beers: Bulldog IPA. Fans of the brewery have been submitting pictures of them with their pups (bulldogs only) using the hashtag #thirstybearbulldogcontest for a chance to win big. The prize includes a tour of the brewery, a private tasting of the new beers and tapas and a special dog-friendly gift bag for your furry friend. Brenden Dobel the brewmaster at ThirstyBear says that beer and dogs are naturally similar. “Both are humble and easy going,” he says before smirking and adding “or they can bite you in the ass.”
Both of the brewery’s new beers certainly have some bite to them. First is the contest’s namesake release, Bulldog. Bulldog is an English IPA made with Challenger hops. It’s mellow and not aggressively hop forward with a light mouth feel and hints of cedar and green tea. Dobel also achieves a distinct British flavor by using biscuit malt in this beer giving it a slight sweet aftertaste. However, in true yank fashion he made sure to make this beer just slightly boozier clocking it in at a healthy 7.6% percent alcohol. “This is America after all,” he says “we like our hops and booze.”
If you like booze (let’s face it we all do) you’ll love the Golden Hallucination. While not part of the “Best in Show” competition this beer still delivers a bite. This is Dobel’s tenth batch of the stuff and it sings! Dobel says he was inspired to make this beer while sipping champagne and thinking: “fuck this is delicious, what if we replaced the grapes with barley.” The result ain’t your daddy’s “champagne of beers” and there’s nothing “lite” about this flavor. Made with pilsner malt and Nelson Sauvin hops this golden ale is light and floral with a hoppy finish. It’s dry and exceedingly drinkable with pineapple and mango undertones. The name, Dobel says, comes from the “great Belgian tradition” of naming beers after harbingers of doom (Duvel = devil, Delirium, etc). “But in San Francisco hallucinating is not necessarily a negative thing,” he says.
The public tasting event celebrating the official release of both beers will be held at ThirstyBear Organic Brewery on Thursday, May 14, 2015 from 6 pm – 9 pm.
Pairing ThirstyBear’s beers with their food
Because Dobel is Cicerone certified he was able to recommend some food pairings, because man cannot live on beer alone. In his off time he’s a foodie who is always looking for new restaurants and flavors. “You pay high rent,” he reasons, “you owe it to yourself not to stay in and cook, fuck that!” Fuck that indeed! Dobel paired the Bulldog with Thirsty Bear’s empanadas. The doughyness of the empanada crust is accentuated by the biscuit malts used in the beer and pair well with the mild kick of the lime crème fresh for dipping. The pairing that knocked me out though was the mussels and clams with the Hallucination. The lightness of the beer perfectly cuts the unctuous sauce and briny fish and if you close your eyes you’re at a sidewalk café in Brussels on a sunny day. The jazzed up working man’s fare with this decadent yet sippable beer makes for a truly luxurious experience.
What sets Thirsty Bear apart from your average neighborhood gastropub is it’s commitment to organic production and the overall atmosphere of a place that’s upscale, but accessible. All the food and beer produced here are certified organic. This place is swank enough to take out of town friends or colleagues, but still down home enough for local beer snobs who can enjoy a huge selection and specialized events year round.
Cool things are happening in Thirsty Bear’s future. Founding brewmaster Ron Silberstein says he hopes to soon be able to provide rare barley malts to local brewers and other projects that empower anyone with a love for the craft of beer. Dobel is currently whipping up a beer, “all the fucking hops,” to be released around June with the name of Hop Clown.
A quick trip to the actual brewery floor shows that he also has a few bourbon-barreled batches in the works. Dobel’s commitment to craft beer oozes off of him and is reflected in the kind of quality product he produces over and over. He says there’s been a huge “palate” shift in the world of beers within the last 35 years and that we’re seeing a generation of “21 year olds who have only known craft beer.”
“I’m trying to make America a better place,” he says “ growing up with Wonder Bread and Moosehead were the norm.” He shakes his head “I’m not fucking going back to wonder bread,” he says meaning that the days of dull mass-produced beer as a majority are long gone. “The revolution is over,” he says taking a massive swig from his glass “and we won.”
ThirstyBear will be debuting both new beers at an official public release tasting event on Thursday, May 14, from 6 pm to 9 pm. Visit their website for more details.