[Avery] 12/9/98
Blackouts can be fun... for the first few minutes. I was working from home yesterday, so when the blackout hit, it wasn't like I was stuck downtown and had to make my way home. Still, by the time Janet made it home, I was cold (since the furnace runs on an electric timer and it was only 45 degrees or so), I was hungry (because we hadn't been to the store), and I was bored out of my mind.
At 10:00am, I got in touch with my manager and advised her of the situation. I had spotty phone service, the pager wasn't working reliably, and my laptop was out of juice. So, she told me to do the best I could with the situation... and to be happy that the day was going slow.

By 11:00, Janet and I were starved, so I called down to the Toronado to see if they were open. Ian answered the phone and told us to come on down. So, we grabbed our coats and started walking towards the bar. The neighborhood was deserted... only a few brave souls were wandering around. One of the corner stores was open, but their cash registers weren't working. As we walked by Rosamunde, we noticed that Jeff was there making up sausages. Since he had a gas grill, he decided to open up so he could sell his sausages before they went bad. His ventilation system wasn't working, so he was only serving knockwurst and chicken-cherry sausages (which don't splatter when cooking)... so we ordered up some of the chicken-cherry (which is a nice breakfast sausage) and headed into the Toronado.

The place was about half full. All of the locals, along with Dave (the owner) and Jimmy (the chef for the Belgian Beer Festival), all of the Golden Distributing folks (who had nothing better to do), and a couple of people who just saw a place that was open were there, letting our combined body heat and a couple of candles keep us warm.

We all sat there, laughing and drinking warm beer, wondering if we would have to / be able to get any work done this afternoon. When the lights finally came on at 2pm, everyone quietly said goodbye and headed off to home or work.

I didn't drink much that afternoon, only having a Lagunator, Boont Amber and an Untouchable. Janet had a couple of Hoegaarden Whites and a framboise.

In beer news, the 1999 barleywine festival is scheduled for Feb 7-13. 30+ barleywines... and maybe a guest appearance of the Lagunitas Brown Shugga.

[Janet] 12/9/98 "The power blows!"
Since there was a Bay Area-wide power outage on Tuesday, I got to go home early, and since I got to go home early, I finally got to spend a Tuesday noon hour at the Toronado! Even though there was no power, they were still open with candles all over the place for light and a hand crank on the ancient cash register for change. Though Avery spends his lunch hour here on most every Tuesday, I've never been; and what a shame that is because it's not crowded at all, and even if it was crowded you wouldn't mind because its pretty much 100% locals, and Tuesday afternoon is Ian's shift, and if all that wasn't enough, it's Happy Hour until 6 PM! We laughed and talked and sat, then laughed some more at a newspaper article about two boys who jumped onto a moving boxcar (just like in the movies!) which happened to be full of Miller beer, got stuck inside and then had to drink the beer to stay alive.

I drank more than I probably should have for noon on a weekday, right before going to the gym no less, and when I got home I had to forage the apartment for food.  All I found was a small block of Havarti cheese, a hardboiled egg, and some Success rice. I ate them all.

[Avery] 12/6/98
Last night, even though we were feeling a bit under the weather, we decided to make a quick trip out to the Toronado for a beer. We got to the bar at 10:15 and ordered up our first round... Janet had a Guinness and I had a Hop Ottin IPA. The bar was full, but not nearly as crowded as it usually is. Even though we couldn't immediately get a seat at the bar, we were able to sit down next to Tad (the bouncer)... which was more than fine for the first fifteen minutes before out normal seats opened up.

The crowd was relatively docile last night. One beer-geek yuppie chatted up Johnny for about 10 minutes... attempting to impress his girlfriend with all of his beer knowledge. That and a group of yuppies decided to play 1-2-3 CHUG with their four dollar pints of craft beer.

I hate to say that this is all that happened last night, but really it was. We finished our first rounds, then we ordered up a round of Delirium Tremens, a belgian ale which the Toronado just got on draft this week, and by 1am, we were on our way home.

[Janet] 12/6/98
Last night was uneventful for sure, made even worse by my impending sinus trouble which turned me into a watery-eyed mouth breather who couldn't taste a damn thing. Since I must have looked like I was crying, what with my puffy, red eyes and all, people kept asking me "Is everything OK?" Luckily, the yuppie quotient was pretty much close to zero.

[Janet] 12/1/98
On Saturday night we planned to go out to the Toronado, as usual. Knowing that it has been overrun with yuppies as of late, we thought that it would be smarter to go later, at around 11:00 PM, rather than our usual 9:00. Unfortunately for us, we were wrong, wrong, wrong. We opened the door to find, literally, wall-to-wall sweaters-over-shoulders-wearing, Corona-loving, screechy yuppies. Sit at the bar? Ha! We couldn't even get anywhere near the bar. It was bad, bad, bad. Funny, I just read on SanFranciscoSidewalk.com that the "slumming yuppies who packed Lower Haight bars on weekends during the neighborhood's hipness apex are more scarce these days…" That's some real good journalistic researchin', there, Miss Sidewalk Contributor. When did you go, 11:30 AM on a Sunday? Another amusing Sidewalk caption under a picture of Dave reads "Every hour is happy hour for beer lovers at the Toronado" the key words here being beer lovers, which, the way I see it, doesn't include the Bud Lite and Miller-swilling groups of clueless wonders who wander in, don't like any of the 46 beers on tap, ask to see the bottled beer list (thinking that they will find Budweiser in the bottle, or Corona in the bottle, or Heineken in the bottle,) and getting all bent out of shape when they find out that the bottled list is made up of various Belgian beers, in the bottle.

And what's the deal with yuppie girls who go to a bar and don't order anything? I mean, Jesus, at least get a root beer or a water or something. I watched two yuppie girls with glitter all over their faces (note to body glitter wearers: unless you're in a Broadway show, it doesn't look sexy. No, as a matter of fact, you don't look like a fairy princess who has been kissed by the morning dew.) emptyhandedly stand around for a while, then sit in someone else's seat (when called on it, the blonde one said, "Well, I'll just keep it warm"), then perch atop some kegs in the corner, and maybe they just didn't have any money or something, because then their prospective mates arrived and I think that the blonde glitter girl and her maybe-boyfriend finally ordered one beer each, which pretty much lasted them the entire 2+ hours that they were sitting there. The dark-haired glitter girl just sat there looking bored and annoyed.

[Avery] 11/27/98
When you go to a bar for four years, you end up making friendships with the bartenders. One of out favorite bartenders is Robert. Unfortunately, he only works "fill-in" shifts... which means that we might see him once in a month or twice in a week. Because Jennifer (morning shift) and Ian (some morning, some evening shifts) are out this week, Robert has been working at the bar every day since Tuesday... sometimes twice a day.
Since Robert was going to be at the bar so much, Janet and I decided that we would be spending a lot of time at the bar this week

Wednesday 12:00 noon
Since it was the day before a long weekend, nobody was at the office. Still, I put in a concerted effort and worked from home until noon. During this time, I fielded one phone call and processed 10 emails. When noon came around, I grabbed my pager, picked up my cell phone and headed down to the Toronado. (Side note if anyone from my office reads this: When I got back and checked my email, there was only one more real email on my system... nothing that needed any action.)

As planned, Robert was there. So I stopped in, put down my stuff and ordered up a sausage from Rosamunde. Then I sat down and ordered up an Aventinus. I would go through another couple of Aventinuses before leaving the bar for the afternoon.

Just as I got there, the few morning people left, and for the next few hours, It was: Robert, Tad the bouncer, Todd the other bouncer and me at the bar. Carlos arrived at the bar at 2:30ish and started in on his first round of Aventinus. We stayed until 3:45, and when we finally left for a comic store run only a few people were in the bar.

When the bar is empty, except for people I know... it feels less like a place, and more like my living room. The Toronado is where I do my entertaining... where I eat an occasional meal... there I listen to music and where I watch TV. On days like this, the Toronado becomes an extension of my home.

Wednesday 9:00pm
The three of us went back to the Toronado at 9pm, right after Robert started his second shift (he worked 11:30-4 and 9pm-2am on Wednesday). Since Carlos and I were still feeling the Aventinus from 5 hours earlier, we decided to stick with lighter beers. The two of us had Hoegaarden Whites and Janet went for a Guinness. Carlos left for home after the first beer, so Janet and I changed our seats tso we could talk to Tad. Tad, like Janet and me, decided to come in and keep Robert company because we figured that it was going to be a slow night. Boy, were we wrong.

The bar wasn't extremely crowded, but the people who were there were in rare form. The first annoyance of the night started at about 10pm. Tad had decided to head out to get a breath of fresh air, leaving his books and a half-full Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout in an Anderson Valley logo beer-stein. The bar has about 8 of these glasses, using them for the when regular customers order an Anderson Valley beer.

Anyway, a couple of blonde bimbettes came in right after Tad left and ordered up an Old Foghorn Barleywine and a sparkling water. Robert served up the beer and water and went back to serve other customers. One of the blondes brought the drinks over, and then a minute later grabbed Tad's beer and brought it back to her table. I freaked.

Avery: "What the fuck do you think that you're doing?"
: "Oh, that isn't my beer?"
Avery: "It's half-fucking-full. Of course it isn't your beer."
Blonde: "Oh, sometimes I get my beers confused. I thought it was my Old Foghorn" (Even though her Old Foghorn was sitting right in front of her on the table.)
Avery: "You only ordered a barleywine and a water. I just saw you take both of them back to your table. Then you come back 5 minutes later and grab this beer. What the fuck were you doing?"
Blonde: "Why, is it yours?"
Avery: "No, it belongs to the fucking person who has been sitting here all night!"

I then grabbed the beer and brought it back to the seat. I spent the next hour re-telling the story to Tad, Robert, Todd and anyone else who wanted to hear. Needless to say, almost everybody was staring them down. About 15 minutes later, I had to get up to go to the bathroom. When I got back, I found the blondie talking to Tad, apologizing and offering to buy him a beer. She tells him that she just wanted to steal the glass as a souvenir. Tad tells her that he's an employee. Tad tells Robert. She leaves a few minutes later.

After that, a moronic British guy sidles up next to Janet and asks Robert for his "Worst Non-Alcoholic Beverage." Robert scoops up a pint full of soapy, dirty dish water and passes it to him. He asks what it is. Robert tells him. British guy then asks more specifically for a non-alcoholic beer.

Somewhere throughout this, I managed to polish off a couple of Boont Ambers.

Talking about non-alcoholic beer, a girl comes in and asks for the bottled beer list. You can tell the type immediately. She expects to find Amstel Light or Heineken. She gives him the list and asks for a Bud Light. Robert starts laughing... then he stops and apologizes for laughing. I immediately chime in, saying "Hell, I don''t work here... what did she order?" Robert tells me. I burst out in hysterics. She plaintatively states: Aw, come on, it's not that bad. I keep on laughing. Robert offers something else. She asks what's like Bud here. Robert honestly says: Nothing.

At 1am, we decided that it was time to go home, so we would be in a condition to come back on Thursday, after dinner.

Thursday 8:00pm
The Toronado was scheduled to be closed on Thanksgiving, but Robert offered to open up from 5-12 at the last minute, figuring that if he kept the place open, a few locals would wander in. So, Janet and I decided to come out to the Toronado after dinner for a few beers.

When we arrived, the bar was relatively empty... there were maybe 6 people there when we got there a little after 8pm. However, by the time we left at 10:30, the bar would be filled with a collection of locals and tourists. Janet started off with a Framboise and then moved on to a Guinness. I stuck with Hoegaardens and Lagunators.

Friday 11:30am
Since Janet had to work this morning, we decided to meet at noonish at the Toronado. I got there at 11:30 on the dot and ordered up a Lagunator. Until Janet got there at 12:30ish, Robert and I were the only people there (OK, Todd stopped in to say "hi" but that's all.)

The three of us (Robert, Janet and me) all had our hearts set on a sausage lunch, so after Janet got in, I walked over to see if Jeff had fired up the grill. Unfortunately, Jeff was only there to do some cleaning, and wasn't planning on opening up. So, we had to settle on getting cheesesteaks from Metro Cafe. They were tasty, but not what we were craving. However, the note on Rosamunde's door informed us that they would be open until 2am on Saturday, so I'll still get my fix, even if it is delayed by an hour.

The afternoon passed quickly, as we watched football (go Mountaineers!) and talked. However, by 2:30, we knew it was time to head home for a rainy day nap and to write up our exploits of the last few days.

We're going back tomorrow, so expect more updates sometime on Sunday.

[Janet] 11/27/98
It looks like while I was off playing Asteroids on the Playstation, Avery wrote about all the good stories...except for the one about the British girl who wanted to taste something "light," but when Robert gave her a taster of one of the lightest beers they have, she took a sip, then wagged her finger at the glass and said all snootily, "No, not this one. I don't like this." Robert just shrugs at her because she's not going to be able to taste each one, after all, so she should just pick one already. She looks up at the board listing the 46 or so beers on tap for a couple of seconds, then asks "Do you have any more, other than those?" Uh, no. After all that, she finally decides on a beer, pays, and leaves no tip.

An addition to the Hey! Someone's Stealing Tad's Beer! story: The thief admitted that she thought that whoever had been drinking the beer (that happened to be Tad's) had left (it was more than halfway full, and there was also a newspaper and a book right in front of it, which on Planet Earth often indicates that the person probably just went to the restroom or something) and she that wanted to steal the glass. Tad told her that that was even worse than stealing someone's beer, and asked her why she didn't just offer to buy one. God, these kinds of people piss me off! They come in, tip 25 cents on 3 beers and then want to steal the glassware to boot. Grownup, much? 

[Avery] 11/24/98
I tend to work from home on Tuesdays, because my first conference call starts before 7am. That's one of the perks of working for my company: telecommuting.

Anyway, after working over eight hours without a break, I decided that it was time for a break. So, at 3:30, I decided to take my first break... and what place is better for a break than the Toronado?

I arrived to find one of my favorite bartenders on shift: Robert. Robert immediately served me an Aventinus. It's always a treat to find Robert at the bar, because he only works the occasional fill-in shift. However, he informed me that this week he was filling in at least one shift a day until Sunday because Ian was on vacation in Southern California.

So, Robert and I talked for a half of an hour... then he left to cash out. You see, at the Toronado they work on a three-shift system. The first shift comes in at 11ish and works until 4, shift #2 comes on at 4 and works until 9 and then the final shift comes in at 9 and stays until 2am (plus about 3 hours until they're done cleaning). Robert is working shifts 1 and 3 on Wednesday and shift 3 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Needless to say, we'll be spending a lot of time at the Toronado this week.

At 4pm, Robert told Steve (the shift 2 bartender) that he was taking care of my next beer (another Aventinus) and I thanked him with an Underberg.

It was a strange afternoon, filled with tourists and a handful of locals, but it didn't mind. As soon as Robert cashed out, he came to the other side of the bar and had an Aventinus with me. As soon as he finished his half pint of Aventinus, I finished my half-liter and headed out.

Before I left, I tried the new Anchor Holiday Beer. I usually love this beer, but this year it just sucked. It was overly roasted and bluntly, it was disgusting. This was the sort of beer that didn't deserve the Anchor name.

Dave (the owner) is still putting up more Christmas beers, including the Golden Pacific Hibernator Bock. In addition, the Piraat (a Belgian beer) came online. I can't wait until January when the winter beer craze is over.

Expect updates over the next few days.

[Avery] 11/22/98
Last night was a Toronado night, as usual. When we got there at 7:15, I immediately noticed that the Aventinus Doppel-Weisen-Bock was finally on tap. Two Aventinus (would that be Aventinii?) were immediately poured by Steve, who was filling in for Jennifer's Saturday 4-9 shift.

It's good that we ordered these Aventinii quickly, because about 15 minutes after we got them, the Crown Royal shroud was placed over the tap handle, marking that they were out of Aventinus. So, I started to look at the tap list to see what else was new. The Lagunitas Maximus, an extremely hoppy Pale Ale was on tap, as was the Nick Wit from the 20 Tank Brewpub in San Francisco. In addition, the bar has started putting the winter beers on tap. Currently, they have the Full Sail Wassail, the Anderson Valley Winter Solstice, the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, the Deschutes Jubelale and the Fuller's Olde Winter Ale from England. This would be great, if I happened to like winter beers. However, since I don't like winter beers, all this represented was 5 taps that will be filled with beers that I don't want to drink. Ever.

Anyway, we were still working on our first Aventinii (Aventinuses?) when Ian came in a few minutes before 9pm. Ian asked how we liked the beer, and we emphatically announced our love of this beer, but also exclaimed our sadness that they had just blown the keg and Steve said that they were all out. Ian then informed us that there were two more kegs in the back and that he would put another one up as soon as he could. The keg came on just as we finished our first half liters. Before the night was over, I would drink a liter and a half of Aventinus, and Janet would finish a liter.

Saturday nights at the Toronado have been unbearable the last few weeks, and last night was no exception. Every idiot yuppie came out of the woodwork and decided to come out to the Toronado for a beer. There were a ton of annoying incidences that I could regale you with, but I will focus on the two most annoying moments of the night.

10:15pm... A jock walks into the bar and asks Johnny for a "Sierra Nevada." For those of you who aren't beer drinkers, Sierra Nevada is a brewery that produces a relatively famous, yet extremely bland, Pale Ale. Tons of people come in and ask for a "Sierra Nevada" really meaning that they want the "Sierra Nevada Pale Ale." We all know that's what they are looking for, and usually the bartenders will be nice about it and advise them that they don't carry Sierra Nevada Pale ale, but that they should try one of the other pale ales.

But this unfortunate schlub was the fifth person to ask for a "Sierra Nevada" and he got the Pauly answer: "We have the Celebration, and the Harvest Sierra Nevada. Which one?" This usually is followed by the retort "The one I always get in the bottle" which gets Pauly to say "We don't have that" as he turns to serve another person. Tonight, Johnny gave the schlub the Pauly Sierra Speech. In commemoration of Johnny coming over to the dark side, I wrote a sign in black ink on a napkin: Sierra Nevada is a BRAND not a BEER.

11:45pm... Todd, the daytime bouncer and occasional bartender was sitting in seat #1, and Janet and I were in seats 2 and 3. He got up to get a smoke, and this little stoner yuppie skater duuuuuuuuude comes in to his slot to place his order. Duuuuude then flags down Ian and asks "What do you recommend in a beer?" Now, I was working on my third Aventinus and was feeling no pain... and this guy just touched a raw nerve. I immediately sprang to life, bellowing "There are 46 fucking taps representing a myriad of different styles. If you can't give him a name, a style or a brand, he can't help you." Scared little Mister Duuuuude then asks Ian in a timid, almost cracking voice "What goes well with a sausage?"

So, Ian pours him an Aventinus (which goes very well with sausage), Duuuuude pays and moves out of Todd's spot, Todd sits down again, and then Duuuuude walks out... beer in hand. Ian then gives me this did he just leave look, and I turn to Todd and say "Hey, that asshole just walked out with an open container."

You see, a bar can be fined if a patron brings an open container out of the bar. That's why in a big sign at Rosamunde (the sausage shop) says that you can bring unopened bottled beer in from the Toronado. That's also why a big sign at the door of the Toronado says NO GLASSWARE ALLOWED OUTSIDE.

Fast forward 1 minute. Todd is dragging Duuuuude in, explaining the laws about open containers in California, and telling him that he could bring the sausage in to the bar. Duuuuude then asks Todd to watch his beer, and then goes out, gets his sausage, grabs his beer and sits somewhere else.

Janet and I are now considering that we just get to the Toronado at midnight when the crowd starts to thin and then stay till they kick us out. We'll probably be much happier if we do that.

But, in better news, we got tickets to the Belgian Beer Festival on December 13. Over an eight hour guided tasting, we'll be going through 30+ Belgian beers and a full 5 course meal. Only three weeks away... I can hardly wait!

[Janet] 11/22/98
Last night had a really weird and annoying vibe -- even the bartenders made more than a few comments about just how pissed the majority of the crowd at the Toronado was making them. There were hordes of yuppies there last night, a lot more so than usual. They were doing those typical Things Which Drive Me Up A Wall, like the guy who squeezed himself into the nonexistent space at the bar between me and the person next to me, then leaned all over me while nauseatingly rubbing his shiny-blonde-haired girlfriend's back. It wasn't a massage-type backrub, either, but that up-and-down-then-circular nonstop I Want To Get Laid Tonight kind of backrub, but seeing that he had some weird, three-inch wide growths of facial hair that couldn't decide whether they wanted to be a beard or a pair of sideburns, I don't think that it looked too promising. Then there was that guy who ordered a beer and conducted the whole ordering, paying and reaching transaction right in between Avery and me, who were seated fairly close to one another and who just so happened to be engaged in conversation at that point. If searching out the smallest, most crowded, non-space at the bar to order from wasn't bad enough, I guess that he decided he no longer needed his coaster, because he then reached in between us (again) and tossed it right on top of all of our money and assorted other stuff that we had sitting there.

Even though the bartenders don't have too much time to chat when the bar is really busy, you learn to recognize when they're just getting fed up with crowds of people asking the same, often stupid questions over and over and over again. When Johnny came over to take an order from one girl who happened to be standing next to me, she pointed to a liter stein full of beer that was sitting at the end of the bar (the owner had gone to the restroom) and said that she wanted "that." Johnny replied <insert mild annoyance pause here> "How do you know just by looking at that beer, that that's the one you want?" "I just know." said the girl, snottily. Johnny pauses <insert pissed as hell pause here>, gets her a beer, brings it over and says, "I just made an assumption of which beer was in that glass, since I didn't serve it to him." That girl was probably related to the one who wanted a certain beer because it had a cool picture of a chicken on the tap handle. Let's go over this one more time: Right reason to Order a Certain Beer: Because it tastes good. Wrong reason: Because it's lovely shade of yellow matches your new blouse.

[A Special Guest Entry From Carlos]11/20/98
The idea of visiting an excellent brewery, meeting the owner, and fresh-tasting some of the best beers I've ever had, was just too good to pass up. I plowed through my afternoon work to get the hell out of the office and meet Avery to head off to the Speakeasy Brewery in Bayview.

When Forest [ed: the President and co-owner of Speakeasy] poured us the White Lightning, I kept looking at Avery to see how he'd react (knowing of his earlier experience with it). The first thing that struck me was the strong, refreshing citrus aroma -- I can't think of any beer (or many drinks of any kind) whose aroma is as pleasant. I took a sip, thinking of Hoegaarden, and was a little surprised at just how tart they made it, without losing the sweet, fresh-fruit aspect. It's not something I'd drink frequently, but I can't think of any beer I'd rather have when I'm tired of other beers.

Forest was totally cool - someone completely dedicated to his craft, without that innovation-blindness some brewers have, but more importantly, having the audacity to really grab an idea by the balls and get all he can out of it.

[Avery] 11/19/98
This afternoon, we were invited to visit Speakeasy Brewery by Forest Gray, the president of Speakeasy. So Janet, Carlos and I decided to avail ourselves of the opportunity.

Carlos and I made it to the Potrero Hill location at 4:15pm, and were greeted by Forest himself. Forest showed us around the brewery, giving us the grand tour, and after the tour, he decided to let us wet our whistles with some fresh Speakeasy beer. Carlos decided to grab a Satchmo Stout, one of the great California Stout Beers. I had my first of many Untouchable Marzens, and Forest poured himself a Prohibition Ale. We drank and talked and drank some more. In the process, I ended up having a second taste of the White Lightning.

If you don't remember, I really panned the White Lightning in a previous post. I found it to be undrinkable. However, after my second tasting tonight, I found it to be a much more interesting beer than before. Granted, I still don't love the beer... it is too sour to support the light fruity tones that the beer provides, but I would certainly drink it in place of a Hoegaarden White. Even if I don't rank it in my top 10 beers, after talking to Forest, I certainly respect what they were trying to do with it: create an American lactic-fermented beer. In this case, they did a better job than Elysian Brewing and Celis ever did. For me, it's a beer to contemplate, but not to fully enjoy. Carlos disagreed, finding it a pleasantly sour change from the normal Belgian White beer.

At 5:30, Janet arrived at the brewery and had a White Lightning. Unlike me, she really enjoyed the beer, finding it a nice change from the typical witbeer. She then moved onto a Untouchable Lager. By that time, I was onto the Prohibition Ale.

We stayed at the brewery until 6:30ish, talking about geeky stuff (computers) and brewing stuff. Forest then offered us a ride back to my place... the only condition was that we would have to pick up his wife on his way back to the city. Though I don't remember her name, we all had an enjoyable time talking about beer, politics and life in San Francisco.

When the three of us got back to our place, we noted how Forest has the best job in the world... he gets to brew sell and drink great beer... certainly the best beer being brewed in San Francisco, if not the whole Bay Area. Now if they'll only produce a tequila or rye whiskey, I'll never have to pander to the ego that resides at Anchor Brewing Company.

[Avery] 11/15/98
In all of the time that we've been writing about the Toronado, I don't think that I have ever described the actual layout of the bar. Here it is:

The most prized seat is the stool on the right-hand side of the short leg of the bar. That's seat #1. If you count clockwise, seats 1-4 are usually where the locals (and Janet and I) sit. The tables on the side seat 4 people each, and the back room seats about 14 people. In total, the bar can hold about 65 people comfortably.

When we got to the Toronado last night at 9:30pm, we were able to grab seats 3 and 4. A regular was in seat 2, and there was someone new in seat 1. As the night went on, the woman in seat 1 left, but kept her jacket on her seat. We all assumed that she was just heading out for a smoke. She didn't come back for over an hour. I mean, come on... she was just hogging the most valuable seat in the bar. Every few seconds someone would come by the seat and try to sit down there, just to see the jacket there. The three of us (the person on seat 2, Janet and I) would just shrug.

This was rude, but not the rudest thing we observed last night.

At 10pm, a group of obnoxious beer geeks came into the bar after a tasting at Stern Grove. They crammed their seven portly bodies into table number two (table #1 is closest to the door), making it impossible to get by them in order to go to the bathrooms. Anyway, the geeks would talk to the bartenders Ian and Johnny for 5 minutes about the complexities of all of the beers on the menu before ordering anything, buy $9.75 worth of beer with 7 glasses, and then only tip $0.25 for the order. Pardon me, but that is worth at least a dollar or two in my book. Throughout the night, I noticed one of the geeks was pulling out a glass flask of whisky and taking a pull off of the bottle. That's a really bad move. You see, in San Francisco, if a bar without a hard liquor license is caught with hard liquor on the premises, their license can be revoked. They were warned, and left a few minutes later.

However, these rude individuals didn't keep us from enjoying the night. After looking on the board as I tried to select my first beer, I stumbled across the Lagunitas Solstice Beer. So, I ordered one up from Ian. Ian informed me that it was the same beer as the Lagunator, which also on tap. So, he poured me a pint of Lagunator, and a taster of the Solstice Beer... and I couldn't tell the difference. So, I took a big sip of the Lagunator, and poured the rest of the Solstice Beer into the pint of the Lagunator. It still tasted the same.

I went through about five beers last night, including an Anchor Small Beer, which I hadn't had for ages, an Untouchable Lager, the Lagunator/Lagunitas Solstice Beer, and a few other pints of beer. Aside from the Small Beer, I didn't have anything that I hadn't had in the last few weeks.

Janet started off with a Brains Dylan Thomas, which was better than the first time we had it. For her second beer, she asked for a Roggen (Thurn and Taxis' rye beer)... but unfortunately, they were out. Then, she asked for a bottle of Aventinus, and they were out as well. Actually, they have two kegs of Aventinus, but they aren't putting it on tap until they run out of Celebrator. So, she had another Dylan Thomas... and then finished the night off with a Hoegaarden.

All in all, it was a fun night, and I really think that the bartenders appreciated that we were there. We were there until 2:15, before dragging ourselves home.

There aren't any beer nights scheduled for this week, so expect an update next Sunday.

[Janet] 11/15/98
Last night I noticed that Tad (the bouncer) interestingly ties his stool to the wall with red rock-climbing webbing to assure that he will have a seat from which to bounce people. At one point three bridge-and-tunnel-looking people walked in and left the door wide open behind them. "Raised in a barn." Avery said to Tad. "Moo." Tad responded.

[Avery] 11/12/98
NO Brains Night!
Tonight was the Brains Dylan Thomas Smooth Ale release night at the Toronado, so Janet and I decided to stop in for a pint of beer. The Dylan Thomas is not one of my favorite beers, but I attend these nights for the free glass and to talk to the other regulars who always come out for these things.

The night started for me at 5pm. The bar was relatively empty, so I sat down in front of the glowing head of Dylan Thomas (a tacky promotion piece) and ordered up a Lagunator. Jeff, from Rosamunde, came in and sat down next to me. We talked for a while about the shop, and he let me know that he is going to start making and selling soup for the cold winter months.

Janet got in at 5:45 and ordered up a Guinness.

At six, the people from the Brains distributorship showed up... sans the Dylan Thomas glasses. So, I nursed my Lagunator, hoping that the correct glasses would come in. At 6:15, the friend of the distributor came in with some generic Brains glasses (which we already have two of). So, I ordered up a Dylan Thomas figuring that the proper glasses were coming, and that Pauly would exchange the Brains glass for a Dylan glass.

6:30, I ask Pauly what's up with the glasses. He tells me that these idiots were sending out the friend to get the right glasses. You see, these idiots were the same asses who held the Full Sail night 4 months ago... the infamous night where they ran up a 300 dollar tab and then left without paying. Yeah... those assholes.

6:45, I was nursing the Dylan Thomas when the distributors came in with more glasses... Brains glasses. I ask the distributor dude when the right glasses are going to arrive. Dude informs me that he forgot to order them, but he'll leave extra Brains glasses for the bar.

6:46, Beer finished.

6:47, We leave.

[Avery] 11/10/98
Today was a rainy, miserable day in San Francisco, so I decided to pop into the Toronado for a quick pint to lift my spirits. On the way to the bar, I stopped in to Rosamunde to order up a sausage. Jeff, the owner was there... and right next to him was Robert, one of my favorite bartenders. It looks like he picked up a day-time shift over at Rosamunde. Hooray.

So, with sausage in hand, I moseyed over to the Toronado and grabbed a seat next to Dave, the owner. Ian came over and asked what I wanted. Since the only new beer on tap was the Red Seal (Cask Conditioned), I decided to start off with a pint of that... I chose wisely. Red Seal has always been one of my favorite beers, and it is even better on hand pump.

Dave informed me that the Delerium Tremens (a belgian strong ale) will be on tap in a few weeks. That, and as soon as the Celebrator runs out, the Aventinus is coming on.

That was it for this outing to the Toronado... tune in on Friday when you can find out about the Dylan Thomas night!

[Avery] 11/8/98
Janet and I didn't go to the Toronado last night because Janet was feeling a little under the weather.
However, this afternoon we decided to stop in for a quick pint. Pauly was behind the bar and he promptly served us up our first pints. Janet decided to have a Guinness, which is always a good choice. I decided to try something new. This new beer was Brains' Dylan Smooth. Brains, a Welsh Brewery which made a very nice golden ale (Celtic Light) that was as good as Boddington's Pub Ale decided to create a slightly hoppier golden ale and name it after the famous Welsh poet: Dylan Thomas.
Unfortunately, the Dylan Smooth didn't live up to Celtic Light's standards. It was unbalanced, with a taste that Janet noticed was reminiscent of Budweiser. It was a quick drink, which left me time to have a Lagunator before going home.
Sunday afternoons at the Toronado are extremely relaxing... only locals and regulars are there, and only half of the seats are full. Sure, the occasional tourist comes in, but it's much easier to take one tourist in a sea of locals than when it's the other way around.

[Janet] 11/8/98
To wind up a bad week at work, on Friday night we went out to the Toronado with Carlos. I went to bed that night feeling really exhausted and a little sick. Well, I must've been really sick, because I went to bed at 1:00 AM, but didn't wake up until 4:00 PM, with a humongous sinus infection. Even though by 9:00 PM I felt pretty much OK, I still decided that I didn't want to go to the Toronado on Saturday night. I kind of feel bad about it because we like seeing Ian and all, but aside from me feeling sick, lately I just can't take going in there on a Friday or a Saturday night with the huge crowds of people that just don't belong there and do nothing but make me more tense than I already am. And it's not just us, either. Recently I have seen more than a few regulars just give up and leave after one beer because these yuppies are just so sickmaking! I know I go on and on about how much I can't stand them but for Christ's sake! Must they invade every single nook and cranny of the planet? I mean, how much giggling and airheadedness and ear-splitting squealing do I have to listen to?

A few weeks back, when Robert was working on a Saturday night, he was telling us how he had walked past Kate's Kitchen (a grungy, cash-only breakfast/brunch/lunch place in our neighborhood that has also unfortunately been infiltrated by the clueless wealthy) earlier in the day and said "I've never seen so many sweaters tied around peoples' shoulders." And we were like, "I know!" and I told him about a girl that I used to work with who literally had a different sweater tied around her shoulders ever single day of the week, and that she never, ever put the sweaters on. Then he said "Maybe they think they're Super Yuppies" and put his arms out in front of him like Superman.

[Avery] 11/6/98
Carlos decided to come over to our neighborhood after work, so the three of us decided to go out for a nice Thai dinner, followed by some beer at the Toronado. We made it to the bar at around 8:00pm and scrounged up some seats at the bar. On the way in, we noticed two things. One: there were a lot of new beers on tap, including the Arrogant Bastard, Lagunitas Lagunator and Imperial Porter, 20 Tank Brewery's Nit-Wit, and the Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Ale. Two: the yuppies were out in an annoyingly large force.

Carlos and I decided to start the night off with a Celebrator Doppelbock. The Toronado was one of the first bars in the world to get Celebrator on tap, and it is an amazing beer. Truly, I would pick Celebrator above a [Spaten] Optimator or a [Paulaner] Salvator. Janet had a Hoegaarden. I then moved on to a Lagunitas Imperial Stout. Boy, was this a treat, as the Toronado is currently the only bar in San Francisco to have this beer available on tap. The beer has an IBU (bitterness rating) of 75 and has an alcohol-by-content volume of 8.2%. Carlos had a Speakeasy Untouchable Lager and Janet continued working on her Hoegaarden.

9pm came about 15 minutes after we got that last round, which meant that it was time for the changing of the guard behind the bar. Pauly left, and Kirsten and Johnny stepped in. Kirsten promptly brought Underbergs. Over the next hour or so, the yuppies started crowding in... asking for the "beer with the chicken on it (Sonoma County Red Rooster)" and being generally annoying. Heck, Kirsten's boyfriend couldn't even stand dealing with the crowd and left. However, the growd be damned.. I wanted more beer. So, I ordered up a Lagunator, Janet got another Hoegaarden, and Carlos left for the East Bay.

About ten minutes after Carlos' departure, we packed up and headed home. As we left, the yuppie next to me asked if my seat was open. I hope my response of "Do you see me coming back, you ass?" didn't offend him.

[Janet] 11/2/98
On Saturday night, nearly everyone at the Toronado was wearing a costume, it being Halloween and all. There was an extraordinary amount of Things With Wings (fairies, butterflies, and the like)...was that "in" this year? Ian and Johnny were dressed as Canadians, more specifically the MacKenzie bothers (Good lord! How many times can you say "hoser" in one night, anyway?) Our friend Jocelyn was wearing a turquoise blue 'n silver Amanda Woodward wig. Huh. On her, Amanda Woodward. When I tried it on, however, everyone pointed and laughed and said I looked like Garth Algar. (I prefer to think that I resembled the Garth-clone girl that Garth got together with at the end of Wayne's World II.) 

[Avery] 11/1/98
Halloween Night, 10/31/98
As you know from last Thursday's Topic of the Week, we hate going out of the house on drinking holidays because most of the people out on these nights are people who don't know how to drink. Halloween is the worst night, because not only are people feeling bold because of the alcohol in their systems, but they feel a certain level of anonymity because of their masks. So, you end up with a lot of people who can't handle liquor drinking copious amount of alcohol. Truly, a bad way to spend the night.

However, Halloween night in San Francisco was relatively mild, due to cold weather and drizzle, so Janet and I decided to head out to the toronado for a beer or two, with the intention of coming home by midnight or so. But, as you know, the best laid plans of mice and men...

We started the night with a Guinness for Janet and a Rogue Dead Guy Ale for me. Dead Guy is a seasonal artisan ale which is a real treat when available on hand pump. Midway through the beer, Paul, Jocelyn and Shadee walked through the door.

So, for a few hours, the five of us enjoyed a number of the Toronado's beers. I had a Young's Old Nick Barleywine, which Dave has decided to put on tap for an extremely reasonable $3.25/pint (it's usually $3.50 for 11 oz). Janet had another Guinness, and Paul had a Moonlight Boney Fingers. Jocelyn and Shadee had non alcoholic beverages (root beer and water respectively).

At 11ish, Jocelyn and Shadee left the bar. Paul decided to stay. He had an Old Foghorn Barleywine. I, however, went for a Moonlight IPA, one of the beers I would not have expected to see on tap in the fall months. At midnight, Shawn showed up. He stayed for a root beer and then left.

Midnight came, and the three of us looked like we were ready to go home, however, Jocelyn and Shadee re-appeared so we decided to stay for another drink. Janet and I split a 750ml bottle of Gluhkriek, a spiced sour cherry lambic.

At 1:45, Jocelyn, Shadee and Paul left to get a cab to their car. We left at 2amish and headed home... but for the next part of the story, you'll have to check out the scowl from today.

Day of the Dead, 11/1/98
Ian had let us know that he was filling in at the Toronado for the 4pm to 9pm shift last night, so we decided to stop in for a single, quick beer. Of course, when Ian is involved, it's never just one quick beer.

Upon our arrival, we sat down next to Peg, a fellow denizen of the Toronado who is a senior chef at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco. Janet set herself up with a Hoegaarden White, I had a Lucifer. Lucifer is a copy of Duvel (devil) a Belgian Trappist-style ale.

As we talked to Peg and Ian, Janet ended up finishing another Hoegaarden and a Framboise. I had a Speakeasy Untouchable and an Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout. We were only there for two hours, so that's about all that happened. However, it looks like we might be planning up a pilgrimage to Boonville, home of Anderson Valley Brewing Company... but we won't know if it's going to happen until tomorrow.

[Avery] 10/28/98
Well, we must bid farewell to a number of beers, as the Toronado prepares for the Halloween and Christmas beers. Hoppy Face and the Full Sail Octoberfest have left in order to make room for the Young's Old Nick Barleywine and the Lucifer. Also, the Lindeman's Gluhkriek has re-appeared in 750ml bottles. Is the new Jubelale, and the Sierra Nevada Celebration far behind?

All of these are great questions, but unfortunately I don't care, because tonight is Hoegaarden White night at the Toronado!

Yes, Hoegaarden White... the creation of Pierre Celis, of Austin Texas. When Pierre Celis wanted to learn the art of brewing, he went to Belgium to learn the craft. While there, he started brewing an old style of beer... one that was not being mass produced at the time: the Witbier. Witbiers are bright yellow ales, lightly spiced with coriander and Curacao orange peel. It is the perfect summer beer. Hoegaarden White became the benchmark for a whole new breed of witbiers... there were many competitors, but none could unseat Celis' Hoegaarden White from the top rung of the witbier ladder.
Then Pierre Celis decided to leave for his new home... Austin, Texas.
In Austin, Celis founded a new brewery, aptly named Celis Brewery... and he started brewing a new beer, Celis White. Now, Hoegaarden and Celis regularly trade places on the top rung of the witbier ladder. Unfortunately, Celis is now in the hands of the brewing conglomerate Miller. It's still a great beer, but I haven't let it pass through my lips since the buyout.

Anyway, back to the Toronado. The Hoegaarden was flowing, into the appropriate oversized 500ml glasses. The glasses were massive, so large that they were difficult to hold... but that didn't stop Janet, Carlos and me from finishing a glass off. In Toronado's fine tradition, for $7.50 you got a beer and the glass.

We were only there for a beer so nothing much happened. We got to see the new shirt that Carlos bought for a halloween wedding that he will be attending on... well... halloween. It's two-tone and satiny. That, and we got confirmation that the Belgian Beer Festival will be on December 13, the Celebrator Doppelbock will be available on November 4 (new glasses too!) and the Brains Dylan Thomas will be released on November 12.


[Avery] 10/25/98
Friday, 10/23 - After Work
For most of the week, Janet and I were talking about going to Schroeder's, a German bar and restaurant near my office for a couple of beers after work on Friday. Schroeder's is a 108 year old restaurant which has about 15 taps, most of them pouring German beers, with a few domestic beers thrown in for good measure.
What was originally intended to be a quick beer for the two of us turned into a small gathering, with Lea, Carlos and Rachelle from my office coming along as well. I started off with a Spaten Optimator Doppel Bock, and then moved on to the Spaten Oktoberfest. Janet had the same, but she only had a quarter-liter of the Oktoberfest.
The conversation was lively, and we all enjoyed ourselves... but if we all get together for an end-of-the-week beer again, it won't be at Schroeder's. You see, even though the physical bar is beautiful, the beer was stale and the beer lines were not very clean... which made for an un-enjoyable beer drinking experience.

Friday, 10/23 - After dinner
When we got back from dinner at Orale! Orale! a great Mexican restaurant in the Financial District... there was a message on the answering machine. It was Toshi, and he wanted to know if we wanted to know what we were planning for the night. You see, Toshi and his Significant Other, Trish were at the Indian Oven having dinner, which is a block away from our apartment, and a half block away from the Toronado. One quick call to his cell phone and we were on our way to the Toronado for a beer.
When we got there, we were met by Ian and Johnny (the bartenders) who served us up our first round. Janet had a Framboise and I had a Speakeasy Untouchable, a new beer from Speakeasy Brewery in San Francisco. The Untouchable was a nice, strong, malty beer with a nice kick to it. Toshi and Trish both had Framboises as well. During the hour that we spent there, I had a Full Sail Black Pilsner, a new mildly hoppy Schwartzenbier, as did Toshi... and Trish finished off the night with a Hoegaarden White beer.

Friday, 10/24
The night started off at my office party, home of the five dollar Sapporo beer. Needless to say, we only had one beer each before retiring to the Toronado. We made it there at about 10:30pm, and surprise, surprise! Our favorite bartending team was working the night shift: Ian and Robert. Robert and Ian nights are usually amazingly fun, and last night was no exception. First: the beer rundown... Avery had another one of those Speakeasy Untouchables, a Full Sail Black Pilsner, a Petaluma Strong Ale and a Lagunitas Maximus. Janet had a pint of the Spaten Oktoberfest and two pints of Guinness. It was an evening of mourning, as the last pint of Spaten Oktoberfest has been poured at the Toronado until next year. Sniff.

Anyway, the night started out slowly. We spent the first hour or so dealing with a semi-drunk and extremely talkative bar-mate who was complaining about Yuppie Invasion of the Lower Haight. He had some good points, but it was hard to take him seriously due to his drifting off into X Files-ish delusions of conspiracies.
At 11ish, Molly showed up with her companion for the night. Her companion was our old soccer team captain which I hadn't seen for about two years. I had invited the two of them to come out to the Toronado after the office party... and it was a nice surprise when they actually showed up.
They stayed until 12:30ish before leaving for the East Bay. Last call hit, and the night ended promptly at 2pm... or did it...

[Avery] 10/23/98
Usually, Janet and I don't go to the Toronado during the week... unless there is a special event going on. However, when Carlos stopped by my desk to let me know that he was going to be in my neighborhood later tonight, I figured... Hey, let's all meet for a beer at the Toronado!
We met up with Carlos at around 7:40pm. We would have been there sooner, but the smell of Jeff's fresh chili made us hungry, so we stopped in and got a sausage before heading into the bar. We were only there for around an hour and a half, but it was a fun hour and a half. I went through a pint of the Moonlight Boney Fingers, a Hop Ottin IPA and a pint of the Spaten Oktoberfest. Janet had a pair of Spaten Oktoberfests and Carlos had a Deschutes Obsidian Stout and a Hop Ottin before calling it a night.

Oh yeah, Carlos wants me to tell everybody that he played some good tunes on the jukebox too!
There's not that much more to say, because not much more than that happened. But still, it was a good way to kick off the end of the week.

[Avery] 10/20/98
For the inside scoop of events and happenings at the Toronado, click here.

[Avery] 10/18/98
This weekend was marked with visits to two bars. The Elixir and the Toronado.
Friday Night - The Elixir:
After work on Friday, Janet and I decided to head down to the 16th/Valencia district for dinner. Since we got there before our dinner reservation at the Slanted Door, we decided to stop at a bar for a few beers while we waited. The bar we chose was The Elixir. The Elixir used to be part of the Jack's Chain, which encompassed five bars around the city. The Jack's Bars were known around the city for having dirty lines (which makes the beer taste nasty) and surly waiters. The Jack's chain broke up last year, and the bar known as Jack's Elixir is now just called The Elixir.
The Elixir is small, about half the size of the Toronado... but they have more taps than the Toronado (about 55) which is great, even though they dedicate a few taps to Budweiser.
The people at the Elixir at 5:45pm on a Friday is like the crowd at the Toronado at 5:45pm on a Friday. Mostly regulars, a few people in the neighborhood for dinner, and a couple of obviously lost tourists. I only had time for a few beers, so I had a Boont Amber and a Lagunitas Pils. Janet only had time for a Pear Cider.

Saturday Night - The Toronado:
Well, Saturday night was spent at the Toronado. We were ready to go out to the Toronado at 7:30, but since we didn't know who was going to be on shift, we decided to wait until about 8:30 so we would get there before the 9pm rush. Anyway, we got in to the bar at about 8:45 and grabbed two seats at the center of the bar, and lo and behold... who shows up behind the bar... none other than Robert.
So, Robert comes on over and serves us up our first beers. I had a Lind Boney Fingers, a seasonal black lager, and Janet had a Spaten Oktoberfest.
9pm rolls around and the bar is still about half full when Ian and Johnny come in to start their shift. The two of them are looking at pictures from the Toronado's 11th Anniversary Party... trying to decide which picture should be put up on the wall of bartender candid photos. As we finished our first pint, Johnny came over and told us that our second pints were being taken care of by Robert, who had just ended his shift. Janet had another Spaten Oktoberfest and I had a Hop Ottin IPA.
At 9:30ish, the crowd-o'-yuppies arrived, asking for "shots of tequila" and the like. Luckily, they didn't come in droves, they just came in drips and drabs. All in all, it was a relatively bland night... no great moments (aside from Johnny finally breaking down and "talking shit" about the yuppies). We finished up the night with us each having a Thurn und Taxis Roggen (a rye beer)... and then for our final beers, I had a Hoegaarden Wit and Janet had a Framboise.
Every once and a while, it's nice to have a quiet night at the bar... and last night was certainly one of those nights.

[Janet] 10/18/98
Last night seemed to have a weird vibe surrounding it...everything was normal, but just a little "off," even at the Toronado. Sometimes you never know if you're going to have a good night or a not-so-good night; a good night being one filled with running into people you know, having great conversations and a general great time, and a not-so-good one being one where everything is OK and no one pisses you off or anything, but it's only just an OK time, and a little bit awkward-feeling, too. It was unexpectedly nice seeing Robert, and Ian and Johnny did not only one, but two Underbergs with us, but all in all the night was very uneventful. Only amusing quote of the night: "Oh, that really IS a Lambic" -- Ian, mocking the guy who ordered a Lindemanns Framboise, took two sips, said "Oh, that really IS a Lambic," and traded it in for a "light" beer (whatever that is.) 

The Clueless Hipster Award for last night goes to the blonde girl sitting near us. Whenever Avery leaves to go to the bathroom, to have a cigarette outside or to get something to eat, it seems like annoying people just flock to his empty seat like a magnet and hover around it, leaving me to have to beat them off with a stick because we usually have, as the bartenders like to call it, "prime real estate [seats]." Last night's scenario went something like this: Blonde Girl and her group of Trendy Girlfriends are having a panic attack trying to find three seats together. I am sitting at the bar with my jacket in my lap and a drink in front of me. Next to me is Avery's seat with his jacket on it, and on the bar in front of his seat is a full pint of beer, cigarettes and money. After the Trendies find two seats together, the Blonde Girl (who I presume was their leader) turns to me, looks at the bar, looks at me, and looks right at the seat with the jacket on it and asks (and I just knew this was coming, so I braced myself) "Is anyone sitting here?"

Note to whoever coined the phrase "There's no such thing as a stupid question": you can crawl out from under your rock any time now...  

[Avery] 10/11/98
Because the Spaten Oktoberfest was still on tap from Wednesday's Oktoberfest Celebration (see the 10/8/98 update), we made a concerted effort to go to the Toronado on Friday and Saturday. Here is the breakdown:
Friday Night:
After a great dinner at Suppenkuche, Janet and I decided to finish off a good night of German food with a couple of half-liters of German beer. So, on or way back from dinner, we decided to stop off at the Toronado. As we arrived, there were two seats open at the bar, so we sat right down and ordered up our beers from Pauly. Pauly, as you know from previous entries, is a great bartender... with more than a hint of attitude towards those yuppies that come in and ask for a pitcher of Bud.
The night consisted of me drinking two half-liters of Spaten Oktoberfest and a pint of Twist of Fate. Aah, the Twist of Fate... Pauly told me that the Twist of Fate keg had just been delivered about an hour-and-a-half ago, and was worth a pint, and he was right. There is nothing better than a pint of fresh, cask-conditioned beer on hand pump. If they got the Twist of Fate fresh every night, I would be at the Toronado every night. Oh, Janet had a Guinness and a Spaten Oktoberfest.
Anyway, Pauly was not slinging beers by himself, Steve the barback (bouncer/glass washer) got an instant promotion to bartender due to the enormous rush of yuppies pouring through the doors. It was awful. By 8:30, the crowd of people was getting so great that the yuppies started panicking when they couldn't get Pauly's attention within 30 seconds of waving their twenty dollar bill at him. While one yuppie would start ordering their beers, another would start shouting over the first yuppie, thinking that it would somehow endear him to Pauly and make him take both orders at the same time. Wrong. Pauly's quickly shouted :Are you with them, or are you just interrupting me? instantly humbled the loud yuppie and he quieted down.
Pauly left at 9pm, and Johnny and Kirsten replaced him for the late-night shift. Nothing that memorable occurred, aside from the cash register overheating and breaking down, so they had to use a hand-crank to make the register work. We were home by 10pm. An early, perfect night.
Saturday Night:
Since we knew that they had both the fresh Twist of Fate and some Spaten Oktoberfest at the Toronado based on yesterday's visit, we decided to stop into the Toronado for a beer or two. We got there at 8pm, and Robert was on shift. Robert is one of our favorite bartenders.... and since he is only a substitute bartender, we never know when (or if) he is going to be on shift. So, when we see him at the Toronado, it's a real treat.
The Toronado was empty at 8pm, so we thought  that it would be a slow night. Boy were we wrong. at 8:17, I went out to Rosamunde to get a sausage. At 8:23, I returned to find out that this drunk guy had been hitting on Janet for the past five minutes. At 9pm, Johnny and Ian came on shift. At 9:05, Tad arrived. Tad was a little bit giddy, telling bad jokes (how do you make a cat go "woof"... soak it in kerosene and drop a match... WOOF!) and telling everybody that the Hells Angels were driving around the neighborhood. At 9:10, about 25 Hells Angels showed up.
The Hells Angels were courteous, buying good beer and tipping well. Contrary to popular belief, the Hells Angels are not thugs, just hard-core motorcycle enthusuasts. They didn't pick a fight with anybody, however they were looking for the yuppie in the sport utility vehicle that parked in the motorcycle parking spots. Let me tell you that there is nothing more awe-inspiring than the sound of 20 vintage v-twin Harleys driving down the street... it's a sound that could scare God.
About fifteen minutes after the Hells Angels left, the Yuppies arrived. Sheesh. They came in so quickly, that within 15 minutes of the first yuppie arriving, they were three deep at the bar. Sigh.
Throughout the whole night, I only had four beers: a Spaten Oktoberfest, an Anderson Valley Oktoberfest and two Moonlight Twist of Fate Bitters. However, for the first time ever, Janet had as many beers as I did... and she drank them as fast as I did. Janet had two Spaten Oktoberfests, a Guinness and a Lindeman's Framboise.

If the yuppies keep on coming like this, we'll have to restrict our drinking to early in the evening. There are enough Yuppie hangouts in San Francisco... why do they have to invade the Toronado?

[Janet] 10/11/98
We had had such a good time at the Toronado on Wednesday night, we decided to go on Friday night as well, on our way back from dinner. We usually tend to avoid going on Friday nights because for some reason, more not-from-the-neighborhood people have started going on Fridays. Let me assure you, this past Friday was no different. The best thing about it was that Pauly was working, and while he is almost always on the edge of scowly, there are times where he is scowly in full force and boy, is it ever entertaining! Plus Steve, who was helping Pauly out behind the bar, did not one but two Underbergs with us, which was a pretty cool bonding moment.

 The night when we usually go is Saturday, which is a little less crowded with the not-from-the-neighborhood people. When we got there at 8:30 it was perfect: empty but not deserted, the crowd consisting of more locals than not. If you look at Avery's entry, you may notice the abundant usage of the word "yuppie." Because of that, I have been saying "not-from-the-neighborhood-people," but let's face it: that phrase is too cumbersome, and they were yuppies. The worst kind. Blech. Even the bartenders were commenting about it, though their perspective is a little bit different being behind the bar and all. So well groomed with their nicey-nice clothes, manicured nails and clueless minds. There was one shiny-haired Blonde Girl & Co. who asked for a beer...OK, forgive me, so I don't remember which type. Let's just say it was Hefeweisen. Anyway, she's all "I want a Hefeweisen" and when she was asked "Which one? We have Franziskaner, Paulaner, Erdinger..." she says all snottily "What E-ver." all seemingly offended that someone would actually ask specifically what she wanted to drink, for Christ's sake. And that's how you identify a hard-core yuppie. People who go to a bar dressed all wrong, ordering all wrong, and just generally acting all wrong, and out of their element. You don't see us tromping into their fern bars wearing cargo pants and t-shirts and everything, so why can't they just play in their own backyards? Was Gordon Beirsch all full or something?                  

[Avery] 10/8/98
Well, it's Thursday morning and as I sit at my desk, getting ready for another day at work, I can't help thinking about last night's Oktoberfest festival at the Toronado.

All over the United States, bars are throwing Octoberfest Celebrations. For most of these bars, the "Celebration" consists of a night of $1.50 Budweisers and 1/2 price Jagermeister shots. Sometimes you get free munchies. But Oktoberfest at the Toronado is a completely different beast.

Let's take a quick look at Oktoberfest in Munich. There, Oktoberfest is a celebration of the release of that year's batch of Marzen Bier. You see, in Germany, they have a number of seasonal beers. In the summer, the breweries release their Weiss (or Wheat) beers. Hefe-Weissen (or Kristall-Weisen) beer is light and refreshing... the perfect drink for the hot summer months. In the winter, they release the Dopple Bock beers, heavy, dark and full of enough alcohol to keep you warm as you walk [read: stumble] home. The Marzen Bier is the traditional harvest-time beer. Oktoberfest celebrates the harvest... and what better way to celebrate the harvest than with a liter of fresh, sweet beer!

Munich's Oktoberfest celebration consists of the large breweries setting up beer gardens, large tents that seat thousands of people. People sit down and hear live music, eat large amounts of sausages and pretzels... oh, and they drink beer by the liter sized stein. It's a celebration of life.

Unfortunately, aside from a few cities (like Fredericksburg, TX)... most American towns can't support this type of grand festival. American urban design usually doesn't allow for this sort of central park, and those which do have regulations against public drinking.

However, Spaten selects a number of large bars all around the country and sets up mini-Oktoberfests. The usual places are large bars, like the Winking Lizard in Cleveland (one of my favorite bars), which can seat upwards of five hundred people. They bring the beer, drop off a gross (144) of free 1/2 liter glasses, put up some posters and leave. The bar then sets up whatever promotion or special it wants.

At the Toronado, Spaten takes the celebration very seriously. A number of Spaten executives (including members from both Spaten USA and Spaten Germany) come in ahead of time, bringing wall hangings and posters. They work with David (the owner) to set up an Oktoberfest which is as traditional as can be expected in the Lower Haight district of San Francisco. Like they have for the last three years (and probably longer, but I have only been to the last three Oktoberfests at the Toronado), they bring that year's commemorative half liter glasses and many kegs of fresh Spaten Oktoberfest (Marzen) Bier. They also bring in an Ommpah Band to play traditional German drinking songs and this year they arranged for free Rosamunde sausage with every 1/2 liter of Spaten purchased.

Sigh. Now it's Thursday and the celebration is over... but the Oktoberfest will still be on tap for a few days more. So, it looks like I will have to make another trip to the Toronado before the week is done.


[Janet] 10/8/98
Not only that, but there was, as there is every year, a genuine German Oompah Band who marched into the bar already playing their first song. As they played, every so often between songs they would stop and toast the crowd and everyone in the bar would yell "Prost!" Then they would drink half of their liter of beer in one gulp. Kirsten was the bartender, who we hardly ever get to see since she seems to only work the afternoon and Friday night shifts. She's cool, with blue hair and attitude in an indirect, subtle kind of way. She offered to do an Underberg with us practically as soon as we sat down.

Scene Witnessed: Guy and girlfriend with an unidentifiable accent. The Accented Girlfriend wanted Hefeweisen, but was obsessed with what size the glass had to be. Presumably, she wanted it to be small ("Is that the smallest? The smallest?" she kept repeating.) Kirsten, holding up a Hefeweisen glass: "they come in this kind of glass." The Accented Girlfriend: "Ooohh. Is that the --" Kirsten, interrupting her: "but I can give it to you in a regular pint glass." Kirsten, a couple of seconds later: "Do you want any one in particular, no probably not." accurately sizing up the cluelessness of these people who weren't even paying attention to her question as she went to pour the Hefeweisen of her choice (there are 3 different ones on tap.) "Is this IT?" asks The Accented Girlfriend as she takes her beer. Avery told Kirsten that she should have served it to her in a shot glass.

Though the Hefeweisen glass looks larger, there's only a difference of about 0.4 of an ounce between that glass and a regular pint glass, don't ya know. Another person asked for a pitcher of beer, something which I don't ever quite understand. If you get a pitcher for, say, four people, you essentially get four glasses of beer, right? So why don't people just order 4 glasses? If there's less than 4 people in your party, there's a good chance that the beer in the pitcher will get all warm, and while that's probably OK for Budweiser, it's just a shame for a good microbrewed beer. Maybe it's a cost-effectiveness thing, in which case they should just go to some sportsbar that accepts coupons torn off the bottom of their paper menu.

[Avery] 10/7/98
Woo boy! Tonight was Oktoberfest night at the Toronado. Now I know that you are thinking... ooh... Oktoberfest.. like every other bar in the country doesn't have an Oktoberfest! The difference is that at the Toronado, the night is sponsored by Spaten, the German brewery that makes the best Marzen (also known as Oktoberfest or just Fest at most bars) beer in the world, sponsors the night. Spaten brings in the kegs, anniversary glasses and buys the sausages from Rosamunde. The Toronado is just a beer hall that attracts the only people in San Francisco that would appreciate the joy of fresh Spaten Oktoberfest Bier.

Anyway... I polished off a full 2.25 liters of Spaten (one pint, three commemorative half liters and part of Janet's half-liter). Janet had 1.25 liters (one pint, a full liter and another half of a commemorative half-liter). Last year, Janet and I won a ceramic Spaten liter stein and a Spaten T-shirt. This year, there was no raffle... instead we got tickets that went towards a free beer bratwurst from Rosamunde. Mmm. Beer Bratwurst. Needless to say, my dinner consisted of one Italian Sausage, two Beer Bratwursts a pickle and some potato salad. Janet had an Italian Sausage and some pizza.

[Avery] 10/4/98
Now it wouldn't be a Saturday Night if we weren't at the Toronado, would it? Last night, Janet and I met up with a bunch of friends for a night of good beer and fun conversations. Jocelyn, Shadee and Shawn (check 9/20's update for the background on them) were all there. The highlight of the evening was that Carlos, a good friend from the office, was able to make the trek out from the East Bay just to have a birthday beer with me.

The night started off with Carlos, Janet and me eating take-out chinese food, drinking Tsingtao beer and watching Oscar de la Hoya beat up Julio Cesar Chavez on HBO. But 9pm came around all too fast and we were off to the Toronado for a couple of beers.

The newly re-blonded Johnny welcomed us to our favorite seats at the end of the bar, and Ian set us up with our first drinks. I went for the Anderson Valley Oktoberfest, Carlos had a Red Rocket and Janet had a Guinness. Actually, aside from an Underberg, Janet stuck with Guinness all night.

Somewhere near the end of that first round of beer, Jocelyn and Shadee showed up. Shadee went for a Framboise and Jocelyn, who was suffering from a cold stuck with Root Beer. The beer flowed well that night... Carlos had a Faultline Kolsch, a Moonlight Death and Taxes and an Erdinger. I stuck with all domestic beers, having two pints of Anderson Valley Boont Amber, a pint of Eye of the Hawk and finished the night of with a Lagunitas Maximus... at least I think it was a Maximus... for some reason... I can't exactly recall what it was, but I think it was a Maximus. I can't believe that I can't remember what my final beer is. I do remember that somewhere around the Eye of the Hawk, Shawn showed up. He had a root beer.

There is a good reason that I can't remember what the final beers are, because there were so many other things going on that my short-term memory is full of other things that were going on that night. Here are the highlights of the night:

Sigh. Jocelyn's famous sex question. Jocelyn asked me what I would do if I had a million dollars. I said that I would either train to be a chef or be a bartender. Shadee then asked what good would it be to be a bartender if you didn't use it to "get laid by a different woman every night" why be a bartender? Jocelyn said "These bartenders don't get laid by a different woman every night (because she knew that they have girlfriends)." Janet then piped up, saying "You never know..."

Within a second, Jocelyn turned towards Johnny and yelled out "Hey Johnny, do you get laid..." I go to put my hand over her mouth, but Johnny heard what she was saying and came over asking "What???" So, we explained the course of events which led up to Jocelyn's interrupted question. So Johnny half answered the question with a smirk and a chuckle and went off to pour another beer. Upon Johnny's eventual return to our side of the bar, I said with a shrug "Can you believe that she's sober?"

Wednesday is Oktoberfest night... so expect an update on Thursday.

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