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Your New Year's Beer Resolutions
Carolyn Alburger and Caleb Pershan | Photo: Maren Caruso | December 30, 2013
If your goal is to drink great beer, there’s never been a better time than now. Introducing our seven-step program for 2014.
1) I will bow to the beer Buddah (and have some barbecue while I’m at it).
After three years, the city’s beer mecca, Magnolia Brewery—run by brewer and Jerry Garcia doppelgänger Dave McLean—is giving birth to a giant offspring. With almost seven times the square footage of the original, Magnolia Brewery at Dogpatch is set to be the year’s must-visit beer shrine, not just for its onsite brewery, but also—should you tire of its 20 beers on draft— for its staggering selection of American whiskey. Within the brewery will be a “nondenominational” barbecue joint called smokestack, headed by chef Dennis Lee of Namu Gaji. To research the triumvirate of smoke, fire, and meat, Lee ate his way through North Carolina, Texas, and Kansas, taking notes from some of the country’s oldest pit masters. The classically rendered barbecue will be sold by the pound, with sides such as soupy beans with burnt ends and even kimchee, a nod to Lee’s Korean heritage.
Magnolia Brewery at Dogpatch, 2505 3rd St. (at 22nd St.), 415-864-7468
2) I will drink beer on the rocks.
Beer cocktails have been hot since 2009, but TBD bartender Tim Zohn recently recharged the idea by riffing on the classics. For a beer old-fashioned, Zohn pours vanilla-laced, bourbon barrel–aged Anderson Valley stout over ice cubes. As the foam rises, it carries notes of baking spices and lemon straight to your nose. Take note: It goes down quickly. Here, Zohn shares the recipe so you can try it at home:
1 tsp. superfine sugar
8 dashes angostura bitters
6 oz. Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel stout
In a rocks glass, add sugar and bitters, then fill halfway with ice cubes. Stir sugar and bitters together until the slightly melted ice helps combine them evenly into a light orange slurry. Gently pour stout into the glass. Add a twist of lemon and serve.
TBD, 2077 Mission St., near 6th St., 415-431-1826
3) I will sweeten up to sour beer…
The kombucha of the beer world, sour beer is brewed with wild, untamed yeasts and bacteria for tart, sometimes funky flavors. If mid-Market’s Mikkeller Bar solidified San Francisco’s sour beer insanity with a sour-specific tasting room, the Rare Barrel in Berkeley upped the ante with its new brewery devoted to sour beer. At Mikkeller, try the Spontanframboos, a nicely fruit-forward selection; at the Rare Barrel, order the zesty, hay-scented Skus Me. Especially notable: Berliner Weisse, the It Beer of 2014
While many sour beers have a super-high alcohol content and a lengthy aging process, the wheatiest of them all has become a favorite among brewers for its short time in the barrel and its sessionability (read: relatively low alcohol levels). Look for Ale Industries’ crisp “farmhouse” East Bayliner Weisse and the award-winning super-tart, fruity, and wheaty Tartare from Bear Republic.
Mikkeller Bar, 34 Mason St. (near Turk St.), 415-551-8100
The Rare Barrel, 940 Parker St. (near 8th St.), Berkeley, 510-984-6585
Healthy Spirits, 2299 15th st. (at Castro st.), 415-255-0610
4) I will cozy up with a growler.
With Assembly Bill 647 having recently passed, Californians can finally use any growler to get a refill at any brewery. Though most go-to spots, like Speakeasy and Faction Brewing, still require you to use their jug, Cellarmaker has eased up to let you fill whatever growler you bring—they just have to tag it with their own label.
5) I will BART for beer.
With more available real estate and lower business costs, the East Bay is turning out to be where it’s at for up-and-coming beertrepreneurs.
BART to MacArthur
This Temescal hot spot has a wood-forward atmosphere and a menu of terrines and housemade sausages to lure in trend seekers, but beer geeks show up for its 38 taps curated by cicerone Sayre Piotrkowski. The list reads like a love letter to California beer. Choose from the brewery-direct options, like Berryessa Brewery’s Whippersnapper or Triple Rock’s Hip Breaker house IPA.
375 40th St. (at Opal St.), Oakland, 510-338-3847
BART to Fruitvale
This month Ale Industries moves its minuscule brewery and taproom into a much larger former factory from the 1920s, with newfound space for barrel aging. Look forward to an encore of the beloved roasty Rye’d Piper red ale, along with new brews featuring local ingredients, like cult favorite Golden State of Mind, with local barley and chamomile.
3096 E. 10th St. (near Derby Ave.), Oakland, 925-470-5280
The Torpedo Room
BART to Ashby Beer heavyweight Sierra Nevada opened this Berkeley taproom at the end of 2013. Visit for small-batch offerings available nowhere but here, such as the whiskey barrel–aged Torpedo Extra IPA, named for a new fermentation device that adds hop aroma without bitterness. Be forewarned: The bartenders pour flights instead of pints—an approach that forces you, alas, to taste more beer.
2031 4th St. (at Add ison St.), Berkeley, 530-893-3520
The Dock at Linden Street
BART to West Oakland
Oakland’s renowned chef James Syhabout (Commis, Box and Bells) and celebrated brewer Adam Lamoreaux (Linden Street Brewery) are teaming up to create a tandem beer garden and beer-themed restaurant, slated to open this May in a historic 1890 building. Syhabout sidesteps sausages to offer beer-friendly foods from across the globe—think scrumpets, sambal chicken wings, and lamb belly brochettes—and Lamoreaux will cold-steep casked beers to complement the menu.
95 Linden St. (near Embarcadero West), Oakland
Cervecería de Mateveza
BART to 19th St.
The diminutive Argentinean-themed beer spot at the edge of Dolores Park reaches Oakland in June. This time, the empanadas and yerba mate beer come with a 20-foot-long mahogany bar and more capacity for other caffeinated beer batches. Expect expanded cookie-themed options, like Samoas-inspired beer brewed with coconut and cacao nibs.
1701 Telegraph Ave. (at 17th St.), Oakland
6) I will go on a big city beer hop.
Pile your beer-loving friends into a cab and head to these new spots. Bring an appetite. Food—likely from a truck—will be served.
Cellarmaker Brewing Company
This garage-chic SoMa brewery and tasting room from Marin Brewing alum Tim Sciascia offers a flight of up to 12 rotating housemade beers. They can be sopped up with fare from food trucks that roll up on most Fridays.
Beer to order: Moonage Daydream pale ale
Tasting notes: Mango with a hint of Marin hiker
1150 Howard St. (near Rausch St.), 415-863-3940
Triple Voodoo Brewery and Taproom
A handful of renegade brewers wrangled by former Iron Springs brewer Phil Meeker are set to settle down in Dogpatch this month. They’ll experiment with barrel aging in a modern industrial tasting room that serves up 15 rotating tap beers. Expect a roster of food trucks lined up outside.
Beer to order: Grand Cru
Tasting notes: Mexican agave meets Indian ashram
2245 3rd St. (near 19th St.), 415-390-1070
Barrel Head Brewhouse
This bi-level barn of a brewery and restaurant with 42 taps is set to open soon in NoPa. Brews will feature allstar local and imported selections, along with 10 or so originals. Nibbles will include cornmeal-fried rabbit made by Tim Tattan, a former Monk’s Kettle sous chef.
Beer to order: Busty Belgian Blonde
Tasting notes: Vivian Ward in the final scene of Pretty Woman
1785 Fulton St. (near Masonic Ave.), 415-745-1570
Thirty-one California-focused draft beers curated by Christopher Barry (Dogpatch Saloon, 83 Proof) hold court in this Tendernob pairing palace, set to open just about now. Look forward to chef Bruce Paton’s food, including “cold duck” (a triple threat of duck rillettes, duck liver mousse, and duck prosciutto).
Beer to order: Firestone Walker Double Double Barrel Ale
Tasting notes: Bourbon and rich mahogany with a nose of Ron Burgundy’s leather books
850 Bush St. (near Mason St.)
7) I will have beer for dessert.
At the gastropub Hogwash (582 Sutter St., near Mason St.)—due in the Tendernob this month—next-level beer floats, served in big mugs, are sophisticated desserts in frat boy clothing. Take the Bitter End, wherein Three Twins’ lemon cookie ice cream brings out the honey in El Segundo Brewing Co.’s double IPA—for a smooth, caramelly slurp with a bitter finish. Never fear: The beer’s relatively high 8.2 ABV will help you avoid acting your age.
Originally published in the January issue of San Francisco
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