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Strong Beer Month Coming

Beginning on February 1, 21st Amendment Brewery and Magnolia Pub & Brewery, both in San Francisco, will team up again to host their fifth annual Strong Beer Month. Each brewpub will create five new and different seasonal beers — and if you haven’t figured it out yet, they’ll all be strong — that will be available at the two locations throughout February. Sample them all, and you’ll receive some sort of prize. I stopped by 21A this morning after waiting in line nearby to get an expedited passport (long story) and sampled a couple of the new brews, one of which was still aging in the brewery.

First, there was St. Martin’s Abbey Ale, a decidedly Chimay-like beer with nice chocolate notes. Second, and perhaps more interesting, was a Belgian strong ale that had been blended with a small amount (around 10 gallons per 300) of Lindemans Framboise which itself had been aged in an oak barrel. At 10% abv, the new beer’s strength is neatly masked by the lambic’s sweetness, which is evident in abundance. The thick malt presence comes through but only a hint of sourness peeks out of the sides. But the lambic sweetness and the Belgian strong combine to create something fairly unique. I’m not quite sure what yet, but more tasting is definitely in order.

Unfortunately, it will be hard to order because, so far, the beer has no name. Given the brewpub’s close proximity to [insert current corporate name here] Stadium, where the San Francisco Giants play, and the fact that the beer reminded me of a framboise on steroids, I suggested “Berry Bonds.” Despite the look brewer Shaun O’Sullivan shot me, I’m going to continue to call it that, though I’m pretty confident that will not end up being its official name. Too bad, I liked it.

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