Drink Your Way Through Anchor Public Taps by Winning at Trivia

The site of SF Weekly's greatest triumph to date is also a pretty damn good bar.

Anchor Public Taps (Photo by Peter Lawrence Kane)

SF Weekly goes to press on Tuesdays — usually. The week before Thanksgiving, we had to get the issue out four days early, which was ghastly in the extreme since we’d only published the previous issue three days earlier and it usually takes the entire staff at least 72 hours to stop shrieking and twitching involuntarily in the night.

But it meant that the three-day week that followed was blissfully easy. On the first free Tuesday evening we’d had in more than a year, Eric the art director and I went to Anchor Public Taps along with an anonymous freelance contributor — nice guy, scores good interviews, smokes a lot of cannabis. It happened to be the same night as Geeks Who Drink, the pub quiz downloaded from a free-floating cerebral cortex that’s housed in the basement of a random Colorado bar like some trivia-spouting Krang. We had a good time, even if we had to switch tables at one point because a douche in a genuine Uber fleece — pinky-swear that this was a real person and not some composite caricature of life in S.F. today — was using his outdoor voice a lot.

Not to brag, but our team, Appetite for Deconstruction, may have kinda sorta vanquished the competition. Hooray for us and all that, although the chances of us being able to show up again on one of the next 51 Tuesdays are slim — and the relevant part of this self-serving anecdote is that AfD got to drink even more beer than we would have otherwise. The quiz host summons one member of each team up at the end of several rounds to win a free beer with a bonus question and we got a couple of those, too.

Weaning myself off IPAs is harder than titrating my way off of Quaaludes and various other dolls after press night, so I held myself to one Go West!, which was detectably juicier mere meters from its source than it would have been anywhere else. My laurel-wreathed teammates and I passed around a Blackberry Daze, Anchor’s considerably less piney IPA.

Although the industrial space’s doors were open to the evening, it was anything but chilly or damp. But a 10-ounce pour of Old Foghorn Barleywine ($9) is probably my favorite Anchor offering, being almost as warming as a snifter of Cognac somehow. If Anchor’s Christmas Ale — the secret formula for which changes every year — is Santa Claus, then the barleywine is Father Christmas.

If you knew nothing about the brewery, which originated as a 19th-century pool hall over by Russian Hill, you could be forgiven for thinking that Public Taps was the production facility itself, instead of a separate edifice across Mariposa Street. The decor is on the mancave-y side. There’s a giant anchor over the bar, a big glass case of vintage beer cans on one wall roughly grouped by color, and another wall of brown bottles half-embedded in plaster. Shrink-wrapped pallets piled high with grosses of cans sit in the far corner, awaiting distribution. Outside, a rotating squadron of food trucks — Little Green Cyclo, Moonraker, Sam’s Chowder Mobile, and the like — keeps you satiated.

Beyond the pub quiz, Anchor Public Taps has a hefty amount of other events, from dog-friendly Yappy Hour to wood-burning workshops to $20 beer-education seminars. Every Friday brings a new beer release, and this Friday, Dec. 1, it’s Od’Vi Strong Ale, a dry-hopped beauty described as “smooth and silky winter warmer with spicy and fruity aromatics against a big malty base.”

And while it’s not a Public Taps event per se, Anchor will show off its creativity on Thursday, Dec. 7 at the Balboa Theater in the Richmond. To accompany a screening of Elf, the brew team has three try-them-now-and-never-again beers, including a Spaghetti & Maple Syrup Imperial Christmas Ale. Fun!

Oh, and back to trivia. Anybody else playing HQ on their phone? It’s embarrassingly addictive and I even won a round (along with 98 other people), netting a cool $10.10. I may dip into my winnings next time I’m in Potrero Hill, and I’ve burned through the $30 bar tab we got for taking first.

Anchor Public Taps, 495 De Haro St., 415-863-8350 or anchorbrewing.com

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