San Francisco Day 03

After two very wet days in San Francisco, the pattern continued going into day three. The only planned event on my agenda was a tour of the Anchor Brewery around 4pm, something that Hazel and I had missed out on doing the last time we were here in 2012. But with the rain and lack of any decent waterproof clothing, it was impractical to try and randomly wander around the city. I had to find ways to kill time, to devise mini-missions to get me through the day in as dry a way as possible. Being me, I settled on an adventure that would begin with Comics, then end with Street Food!

The only way to travel in San Francisco

I hopped aboard a tram to get into the centre of San Francisco. I had been reading about a Transformers comic issue that was being released in the US that week, ahead of a UK launch - it made perfect sense to go and track it down! I figured starting in the city centre and then heading out towards the comic store would let me take in a few sights.

This image more or less sums up my entire San Francisco 2019 trip

A very wet trek eventually lead to the rather excellent Isotope comics, where I was able to get hold of an issue of the Transformers comic, no problem. Isotope even had a soft seating area so that customers could chill out and read comics - which I did whilst keeping an eye on the never-ending rain. Eventually, I had to go back out into the downpour.

Isotope Comics: They have sofas!

My next port of call was a supposed street food market. The pictures online suggested it was a hub of activity - but this was rainy midweek afternoon. As such, when I got there, I was one of only three people in the whole place. The food options didn’t seem great, or I was too wet and miserable to try anything too adventurous, so I ended up with what was essentially kebab and chips - and not even half decent either!

Soma 'Streatfood' Park - Grim on a wet afternoon

Being unable to walk anywhere without becoming as drenched as I had been the previous day on the Golden Gate Bridge, meant I was literally just stuck in the middle of San Francisco counting down time until the brewery tour. I spent almost two hours at Streatfood, hiding from the rain inside a giant cow-shed, reading my kindle. Eventually I decided it was time, and I headed in its general direction of the brewery. Even so, it was a good hour and half before it was due to start. Luckily I found a small cafe that served toasted bagels and actual British Tea! Just the power up I needed!

Philz: You've no idea what you meant to me that afternoon

Refreshed, I finally made my way around the corner to the Anchor Brewery itself. Now that I could break out my A7S camera without fear of getting any water damage, I made up for a day without taking many San Fran city-photos, by going overboard inside the brewery itself!

Once upon a time, literal steam would have poured from the rooftops of many breweries of this type - hence the name 'Anchor Steam'

The brewery building itself is next to the Anchor Tap House (more on that shortly) and it turned out to be an amazing to photograph. Being ridiculously early though, I took my time loitering taking photos in the foyer, the staircase, the gift shop, the bar... I had a lot of time to kill. Yes, I could have gone to the Tap House for a beer, but I assumed that I'd be doing a lot of drinking during or after the tour itself, so this would have to be a marathon of a beer day, not a sprint!

The tour itself was fantastic - the highlight of my trip. I joined a small group of about ten people, and our guide took us around the brewery, explain the history of the company and the techniques used to make steam beer. The tour included an exploration into their freezers, with literal icicles hanging from the various pipes and valves. We finished back in the bar for a sampling of a great many varieties of Anchor beers. Of the few brewery tours I've done, this tops the list for the sheer variety of beer on offer, as well as the quality of the beers themselves. The tour was excellent and is highly recommended due to its informal nature and knowledgeable staff.

Yes - we got to try them all. More than once.

The Anchor team made it very easy to ask questions and to make us feel welcome. The end result was that we really felt as if we had been invited in as guests, instead being mere tourists in an uber-attraction. (Please note, I love the Guiness brewery tour in Dublin, but that is a gargantuan tourist-centric behemoth - this is an intimate brewery tour on the other end of the scale, and better for it).

Hanging on for as long as I could in the bar (as we were having a great time, and it was nice to talk to some humans after a few days on my own!) I eventually made my way to the Tap House next door. The Anchor Brewery was about 30-45 minutes away on public transport from my digs, and so as much as I'd have liked, I knew I couldn't hang around in the Tap House too long, though I would have loved to. So many more varieties of Anchor beer for the tasting! I settled for two more rounds, took a few more arty snaps, before reluctantly getting back out into the rain.

Anchor's Tap House - I wish I could've stayed longer!

En route back to my apartment, and for old time's sake, I made sure that I went to Escape from New York Pizza on Polk Street (closed now apparently - no!) as Hazel and I finished one of our nights out there way back in 2012. In the same vein, I hit up a few of the same bars that we had been in, but once again it was too soggy for any more exploring. By now I was also quite heavily and pleasantly beer'd up, so I called it an early (ish) night.

Escape from New York - Polk St

All in all, a morning of not much at all, but the Anchor Brewery and subsequent beer and pizza trail made up for it. I probably spent most of the day on my phone working on the BBC CES report, swapping notes with Richard back in the UK. The rain and my complete lack of any waterproof gear, not even an umbrella, just made it completely impractical to explore the city or to get to any of its indoor attractions. Getting about anywhere became an absolute mission, every single time. Lesson learned - invest in waterproofs, take them everywhere!