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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No. 49: Moonlight Brewing's Reality Czeck

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 3:37 PM

click to enlarge Moonlight Brewing's Reality Czeck Pilsner, $4 at Toronado. - KEVIN HENDERSON/SFOODIE
  • Kevin Henderson/SFoodie
  • Moonlight Brewing's Reality Czeck Pilsner, $4 at Toronado.

SFoodie's countdown of our 92 favorite things to eat and drink in San Francisco, 2011 edition.

Boundary-pushing has come to define American craft beer. We find ourselves in the middle of an EXTREME! beer movement, driven by an ABV arms race, as breweries strive to concoct the most potent beers possible. Exotic ingredients are being tossed into the kettle, and barrel-aging remains one of the most popular trends in craft brewing.

click to enlarge sf_92.jpg

SFoodie's all for it ― most of it, anyway. Though there is another genre of "extreme" beer that's received less attention: extremely well crafted, lower-alcohol, everyday brews. These mainstays, often of the lager variety, require the hand of an artful brewer, since smaller beers are an exercise in balance. Unlike bigger styles, there isn't much to hide behind ― you can't simply mask a brewing imperfection with an excessive dose of hops, say. And we're already seeing signs the pendulum is swinging back to so-called session beers, which are designed to be flavorful yet lower in alcohol, ideal for drinking over the course of a long night. Lucky for us, some of these beers are being brewed right in our backyard.

Enter Moonlight Brewing Co. Since 1992, Brian Hunt has run this one-man, draft-only, lager-focused Santa Rosa brewery. When not in the brewhouse, Hunt is likely to be delivering his own kegs to better beer stops throughout the Bay Area.

Perhaps Moonlight's most celebrated beer is Reality Czeck, a Czech-style Pilsner. This crisp, 4.9 percent ABV sipper shows off a harmonious blend of flavors, including grassy hops, biscuity malt, and a touch of lemon and honey. The ratings speak for themselves: Reality Czeck comes in third on Ratebeer's listing of Czech Pilsners produced in this country, and the best beer of its style worldwide on Beeradvocate. And you won't need to camp out in line or brave any crowds to try this gem. It's on tap nearly every day of the year at Toronado, alongside other Moonlight creations.

Toronado: 547 Haight (at Fillmore), 863-2276.

Dishes in our series so far:

92: Goat tacos from El Norteño

91: Faux shark's fin soup at Benu

90: Esperpento's alcachofas a la plancha

89: Poco Dolce's olive oil chocolate bar

88: Decantr's chicken-liver mousseline

87: Outerlands' levain bread

86: Fraîche's frozen yogurt

85: Gyro King's spinach pie

84: Tandoori fish from Lahore Karahi

83: Braised oxtail and daikon from Namu

82: Golden Gate Bakery's custard tarts

81: Commonwealth's cured foie gras with umeboshi purée

80: Star Stream's Liège-style waffle

79: Mexican hot chocolate from La Oaxaqueña

78: Meatball sandwich from Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe

77: Cheesecake from Zanze's

76: Chicken pepian at San Miguel

75: Macau iced coffee at Vega/Special Xtra

74: Comstock Saloon's Pisco Punch

73: Hai Ky Mi Gia's duck leg noodle soup

72: Sauerbraten at Walzwerk

71: Boudin noir at Cafe Bastille

70: Blackstrap molasses gingerbread at Lotta's Bakery

69: Plow's crispy potatoes

68: Prospect's Catcher in the Rye

67: Pork banh mi from Little Vietnam Cafe

66: Nakaochi at Ippuku

65: Sidekick's chocolate spritzer

64: Farmhouse Culture's horseradish-leek sauerkraut

63: Destination Baking Co.'s challah

62: Cotogna's roasted carrots

61: Hard Knox Cafe's chicken and waffles

60: The Rebel Within from Tell Tale Preserve Co.

59: The Slanted Door's Whiskey Cocktail

58: Carnitas burrito from Taqueria San Francisco

57: Sakura mochi from Benkyodo

56: Birria at Gallardos

55: BBQ pork skewers at Fil-Am Cuisine

54: JapaCurry's katsu curry

53: Vegan flan at Gracias Madre

52: Cinderella Bakery's pelmeni

51: Locavore's maple andouille sausage

50: Lumpia from Hapa SF

Follow Jason Henry on Twitter @ JasonHenrySF . Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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