Sunday 27th May 2012
To get out to this pub proved to be slightly more complicated than I had bargained on. I had intended to use line N of the Muni Metro (the subway, actually a tramway). This is known locally as the N-Judah line as it mostly follows Judah Street. Unknown to me, that part of the line was under repair and there was a substitute bus service. The problem was that this started from Castro station, which is not even on the N line! I sorted it out eventually and travelled to the end of the route at Ocean Beach.
As I walked north along a residential street towards the pub I couldn't help notice the number of RVs (Recreational Vehicles or Motor homes) that were parked up. I could tell they had been there a very long time and I suppose that this is just another answer to homelessness in a big city. The weather was fairly awful, slight rain with a cold wind. Eventually I saw the sea and through the mist I noticed a huge aircraft carrier moving slowly towards San Francisco Bay. Whilst watching the television news that evening I discovered this was the USS Nimitz (keel laid 1967, commissioned 1975). It was on its way to the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge later that day. Soon after, I was very pleased to see the top of the windmill standing out above the trees. This building is a feature of the Park Chalet.
The Park Chalet was built in 1925, along with the Beach Chalet. This looks out towards the ocean and is a formal restaurant. The Park Chalet faces into the Golden Gate Park and is more of a pub. There is a brewery on the upper floor that supplies both outlets. At the front are some murals created in the 1930's that depict the life of the times.
The bar area was extremely busy and I eventually found a vacant bar stool after explaining that I was only there for beer. It was the Sunday of a Holiday weekend, so I think that explains why is was crowded.
There were eight beers on offer that lunch time and they were: Elevator Zero ESB; Riptide Red Ale; Presidio India Pale Ale; Bavarian Style Hefeweizen and V.F.W. Light Ale. There were also some Brewer's Specials: Rye Pale Honor Ale; a Pale Ale and Milk Stout in the Dark Side series.
I passed on the Hefeweizen and tried the remaining seven. This is what I thought: Elevator ESB was a complex beer, well balanced with a hint of malt in the body and medium bitterness. Riptide Red was definitely a Red Ale but a bit more bitter than most. I liked Presidio IPA; not too assertive, a good beer. V.F.W Pale Ale was just a light and creamy session beer, presumably for those visitors who normally drink beers from the National brewers.
Of the specials I had the Rye Ale first and thought it was nice, having a slight medicinal taste and the rye came through quite strongly. The Pale Ale came from a tap that was just labelled "Brewer's Special". I was told that it was an attempt to reproduce Anchor Steam Beer. Frankly, I thought it was better than that and it came across as a very good bitter pale ale.
Finally, a beer from their "Dark Side Series"; Milk Stout was excellent and was more bitter than this style is normally.
The beers here are very good and the pub is recommended, except that it might be wise to avoid Sunday lunch times if you just want a drink.
Park Chalet, 1000 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA. 94121. Tel: 415 386 8439
Open: Monday to Thursday 11.00-21.00; Friday and Saturday 11.00-23.00;
The 18 bus passes the door but does not serve downtown. The N line of the Muni Metro is south of the pub, about 10 minutes away. Around the same distance north is the terminus of the 5 and 31 trolleybus routes.