San Francisco Part I: Beer & Bay Boys

I was commenting on the sheer number of gays and lesbians in the fair city of San Fran, and my new (gay) friend Richard agreed, “Here, it’s like throw a rock, hit a homo,” he laughed.

As our car rounded the corner at the bottom of an otherwise deserted strip we saw — you guessed it — another gay man.

I thought Toronto was gay-friendly, but it’s got nothing on this salty city — around 9 p.m. on the Friday we arrived we headed to the Castro. I heard hoots and hollers coming from the balcony of a bar, and looked out on the street to see a slight man, buck naked except for a construction hat and boots, crossing the street. Just another start to a Friday night in the Castro.

Being open about sexuality isn’t the only thing San Fran has the lead on — there’s the beer too.

I love it all. Before heading out I did my research by listening to my favourite beer podcast – by a couple of San Fran beer enthusiasts and sometimes brewers, called Beer School. These guys are unpretentious, full of useful information, and sometimes hilarious. I jotted down notes from their Touring San Francisco Beer cast and I was good to go – despite it being OLD for the interweb (2007) all the recco’s and spots checked out.  (For a more recent take, check out BeersbyBART a website mapping out how to enjoy craft beers at every public transit stop in the city).

The thing about drinking beer as a primary tourist pursuit is that a) it’s very easy to do it alone and meet lots of friendly people.  And b) being tipsy in a new city equals fun.


Upon arrival, I asked my hotel peeps where the Thirsty Beaver was — they Googled, but couldn’t find. That’s cause it’s the Thirsty Bear. Oh, common Canadian faux-pas.

What to drink? Why, the tasting rack of course!

This little brewpub is all organic, and very, very good. While the staple – Brown Bear – was delish. My favourites (and the Texan actuary at the bar stool beside me agreed) were: the seasonal Farmhouse Ale and the Meyers ESB, so goddamn smooth and well balanced. Love you Thirsty Bear!

After that it was off to the SFMOMA, the colours in the pop art room seemed extra bright after a 45-minute chat in a dark bar.

Little did I know that Moe’s friends, Andrew & Richard, were fellow beer nuts and the rest of the weekend would be spent in pursuit of great beer and maximum merriment.  More to come in my next post.

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