My joy at awaking every morning grows as the years are grated off my life’s cheese. Why do I like grilled sandwiches so much?
Disillusioned by yesterday’s breakfast fiasco, I choose the lazy option. And smash my fast with a huge hammer in the hotel. A bacon and egg hammer.
Posh, but near empty is the dining room. I check the menu. No nasty orange-shaped shocks today.
My charming waitress has an unnerving nametag: Nookie. Carry On films can’t be big over here. It’s only when the women’s footie comes on in the bar that I understand.
“That’s my country!” she tells the barman when she hears the anthem. Norway vs. Thailand is the match. I hope she isn’t too disappointed by the result. Thailand gets thumped four nil.
The eggy bacony stuff I stuff in my stuffing hole is dead good stuff. What’s on the dominoes today? Another expensive taxi ride.
Antsy doesn’t do justice to my mood. I even had the location wrong until 5 minutes ago. It’s not on hippy heaven Haight. But way out in the nobdocks. Taxi time.
American cities are a doddle to navigate. A simple grid pattern of numbered streets. I’m headed for 2505 3rd St. We pass 1st Street. 2nd. 3rd. 10th. 16th. Is it me, or are we going in totally the wrong direction? I’m tempted to say something. But I wouldn’t say goo to a boose. Taxi paranoia is kicking in big time.
Overcoming my Englishness, I mention the strange streeting to my driver. Third is a mutant, twisting off 90 degrees from its brothers. Right. I think. But we do arrive on an improbable 3rd intersecting with 20th. Where I make my next mistake.
Spotting something called Dogpatch I tell the driver we’ve arrived. Mmmm… Something doesn’t look right. The total lack of beer and a coffee theme suggest this might not be the right spot. Fuck. Where is it I’m heading again? I consult my trip document.
Bum. It has the wrong address. It has the Haight location. I’ve scribbled down an address. But it doesn’t seem to right.
I wander off down the street, hoping to stumble across it. Most people would just look it up on their phone. But I don’t have one that works in the US. I catch a group of young blokes coming out of a building. If they know where Magnolia is. They don’t. But do have working phones. A few ticks later I’m much wiser. I need to walk another block.
Magnolia Smokestack is, as you could probably guess, a combination of brewery and BBQ place. I can see how that could work.
Owner Dave McLean hasn’t arrived yet. I get a beer and my books out out back. In the brewery part of the building. As everywhere oak casks are stacked up against a wall. Oddly, most are from a distillery in Utah.
Dave arrives and we chat a little. It’s pretty quiet. And the people out the front look more interested in smoked meat that beer history. But I’ve a pint of cask Mild in my hand. The sun is shining outside and there are free sausages. Things could be a lot worse.
Eventually two people turn up. They’re late because they’d first gone to the Haight Magnolia. I wonder if there is anyone still at the wrong location.
The event is so low key, it’s subsonic. The worst turnout I can recall.
When Dave needs to leave, I hang around for some more cask and some BBQ. They give a month’s worth of meat of various delicious kinds. I’d look pregnant if I ate that lot. Luckily, this is the US. There’s a fridge in my hotel, too. I ask for a doggy bag.
The waitress looks at my tray and says “Death by barbecue.” She’s not far wrong.
Had a pretty nice nerdy chat about beer, even if my rucksack is still as full of books as when I arrived. After several pints of cask Mild and Porter, I’ve now moved on to the IPA. Mmm . . . cask IPA. My favourite sort. IPA flavour without all the fucking burping.
Proving Ground IPA
Pretty clear, a cask-style head. All that
citrusy hop thing and low carbonation. Demonstrates why IPA works so
well on cask. Hop flavour + drinkability. I had a couple of keg
Imperial Stouts earlier. The cask IPA is definitely going down more
easily. With less burping. Go cask!
It’s getting dark by the time I ask them to call me a cab. I’m slightly disappointed no-one has answered: “OK, you’re a cab.”
It’s a long wait. A very long wait. After 30 minutes - and the third PCC car - I get bored. I go back inside and ask them to ring the cab company again.
“Are you headed for the city? I’m just finishing, I can take you.” A very friendly waitress says. That’s another $35 saved.
It’s too late to head anywhere else for a beer when I get back to my hotel. Instead a pick up a couple of bombers of Racer 5 in the nearest convenience store. That should keep me going until sleepytime time.
I’ve a free day tomorrow. One dedicated to fun, fun, fun. And dinner with an old friend.
2505 3rd St,
San Francisco, CA 94107.
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