Thank Goodness for the Breast Fest

The teaming crowds enjoying The Breast Fest inside
San Francisco’s Fort Mason Festival

No, the The Breast Fest isn’t a porn movie, but an annual beer festival to raise money for the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic, held last Saturday at the Fort Mason event center my wife and I attended.  The Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic is a California state licensed clinic which provides complementary alternative treatment for low income women suffering from breast cancer.

While it’s great to support this valuable cause, I’m also thankful this event gives me a decent excuse to diverge from writing about beer and running to discuss women’s breasts.  After all, as a heterosexual male with demonstrably active hormones, I’ve been a fan of women’s breasts longer than I’ve been a fan of beer or running.

Escaping the noise inside to enjoy the San Francisco Bay

I also appreciate that my wife understands and supports this enthusiasm for women’s breasts, although strongly prefers this enthusiasm for breasts is primarily directed towards hers.  As we go about town, she will sometimes helpfully point out large, healthy looking breasts on other women (which I’ve already noticed) and asks for my opinions on them, enjoying watching me carefully try to  tactfully escape the mine field she’s just tossed me into.  She lets me read the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue with impunity, although I’ve found it wise to toss this issue in the recycle bin as soon as possible.

But getting back to the beer festival, more than sixty breweries, cideries, and even a couple wineries were on hand to pour their offerings in the open air industrial space on the San Francisco waterfront. The 80’s hair metal cover band Metal Shop played for the crowd, which seemed a logical choice, since hair metal bands have long been energetic proponents of women’s breasts.  It was good bumping into Gabriel Scott and Bryan Kolesar, fellow travelers in the beer running blogosphere.
And while there were plenty of good and interesting beers to be had, here are four I found particularly noteworthy. 

E.S. Chi by Marin Brewing
Nothing says “Marin County” more than a brewery collaboration with noted Chinese herbalist Dr. Yen-Wei Choong of Marin’s Yellow Emperor Healing Institute.  (The Yellow Emperor website even features a pop-up ad for Lexus Automobiles to complete the total Marin experience.)   It was the first beer at The Breast Fest I tried and I’m here to say that Dr. Choong’s herbs melded effortlessly with the lightly toasted malt creating a feel good vibe to start the afternoon.

Ginger Wheat by Napa Smith
I almost didn’t try this, thinking the ginger would create a harsh tasting brew, but my wife talked me into it.  I found Napa Smith’s Master Brewer Don Barkley careful, restrained use of ginger root with the clear wheat beer created a surprisingly bright, refreshing brew.

Ramsgate Rye PA by Social Kitchen & Brewery
I was eager to see how Social Kitchen’s new Brewmaster Kim Sturdavant was doing replacing Rich Higgens, who departed the brewpub last February.  Rye beers are becoming all the rage these days and while I enjoy the peppery flavors rye grain bring, I’ve found more than a few rye beers to be a bit harsh.  Not this one.  I enjoyed the smooth, light peppery character of this beer that would likely go well with a lot of foods.  Sturdavant has big shoes to fill, but there’s been a lot of positive responses to his efforts, and you can add mine to the growing pile.

Duece by El Toro
Morgan Hill’s El Toro Brewpub was one I frequented often back when I lived down in South San Jose.  Their Deuce Double IPA is a classic West Coast concoction, with the clear malt a small distraction to the strong yet smooth floral hop blitzkrieg.  Totally unbalanced the way a Double IPA should be.

Once again, The Breast Fest proves it’s one of the best beer festivals on the increasingly crowded Northern California beer festival calendar. It also provides yet another opportunity for guys to engage in that time honored tradition of swilling beer and fixating on women’s breasts, but at least with a more thoughtful fixation.  It’s a sign of civilization’s progress that a Google search on “Breast Fest” or even “Breast Fest adult film” does not result in a bunch of titillating pornographic content, but several fundraisers all over the country highlighting breast cancer and other women’s health issues.  So let’s thank The Breast Feast and other efforts to support women fighting breast cancer, giving us all the proper perspective on what women’s breasts are all about.

Bigger isn’t better at The Breast Fest

For over thirty years, I’ve been in favor of women’s breasts. And so when Linda, my wife to be, spent the weekend camping with her girlfriends on a big sisterhood extravaganza, I headed over to Ft. Mason in San Francisco to The Breast Fest. It’s a beer festival raising money for The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic to provide breast cancer services for low income women. In its 10th year, over 40 Northern California brewers poured from both their standard offerings with a few specials mixed in.

But if you ask me, the surprise hit of the afternoon was Metal Shop, a cover band having way too much fun wearing wigs, spandex, and leather pants while playing 80’s hair metal covers. Any band that can make the insipid, minor throwaway hit “Lick It Up” by Kiss actually sound good must be doing something right. There’s just a simple exhilaration in pumping your fist to absurdly lightweight lyrics like “We’re not going to take it / No, we ain’t going to take it!” or “Here I am / rock you like a hurricane”. Can someone tell me why I was listening to those whiny, weepy, and downright depressing bands like The Cure, Echo and the Bunnyman, and The Smiths back then?

But let’s not get distracted from the important issue at hand, women’s breasts. On a few occasions, Linda and I have had conversations about large breasts displayed by women we’ve noticed. Now guys, I hope I don’t need to tell you that if you going to talk about large breasted women with your better half, make sure she’s the one who brings it up. Of course, Linda starts talking about women with large breasts because she enjoys watching me tip-toeing around the land mines of that particular topic. After discreetly analyzing the plastic surgery performed on a few women, I would have to say on a strictly primal urge basis, bigger is not better. In fact, out of proportion, over stuffed and simply irregular looking breasts inspire the exact opposite of the male mating instinct, no matter how big they are. As for Linda, I love her for her mind and respect her whole body. But I’ve got to say I’m more into her breasts than say, her ankles.

And so in the spirit of bigger is not better, let me praise a few beers I sampled at The Breast Fest which were not the big beers typically served at festivals as breweries try to out do each other. Instead, let me review four beers I enjoyed that instead of going big, were supple, perky and a little bouncy.

“Bliss” by Ale Industries
Checking in at a mere 3.5% abv, I won’t forget this nifty little session beer from Ale Industries anytime soon. It’s got this great nutty flavor with a slight little caramel note to go with it. Since I prefer malt forward beers, had to love a session beer that gets its flavor from primarily from the malt, instead of hops or yeast you find in most session brews.

“Brendan’s and Jessica’s Bridal Ale” by Moylan’s Brewery
Brewery owner Brendan Moylan is getting married this year, and produced this to celebrate. It’s a golden ale with a little extra hop kick that’s creates a really fresh, crisp, and refreshing beer. That’s it. Not twelve different flavor notes, just something simple, crisp, and refreshing. Trust me, you don’t want complications in your marriage.

“Uncle Svenson” by Moonlight Brewing
The Moonlight Brewing server explained the beer was made without any hops, with pine needles instead. As I continued to ask pesky questions about this beer served from a tap marked “Special”, the friendly Moonlight server grew less and less friendly. After doing a little post-festival research, I believe I was having Moonlight’s “Uncle Svenson”. This Scottish Gruit had smooth, dark, and smokey malt character much like a light Scottish Ale, with the pine needles giving a little piney and juniper character, with a slight menthol finish. It’s not for everyone, but I found this change of pace beer intriguing and enjoyable.

“Black Prince Porter” by English Ales
Porters are one of my favorite styles, and this one just seemed to hit all the right porter notes. Plenty of black patent malt in this one, giving it a slightly astringent character with a nice roasted coffee flavor to it. A porter done well in the classic English tradition is one of life’s simple pleasures.