If the idea that "strength in numbers" holds true, San Francisco's beer scene is growing stronger every day. Laughing Monk Brewing, the Bayview brewery with a focus on Belgian-style California beers, will join a growing crew of up-and-coming breweries opening within the city limits this fall.
The brewery is the result of years of friendship and homebrewing between partners Andrew Casteel and Aaron Hicks, who met while studying at CalTech. Their love of beer and affinity for tasting was cultivated during multiple attempts to sample every beer on the menu at local Pasadena bar Lucky Baldwin's, before their extensive list changed. Eventually, their tasting notes (which generally became less useful as the night progressed) turned into actual homebrewing— and now, a brewery.
"San Francisco is becoming a beer destination," says Casteel. "And [Bay View] is growing, too. There are so many great creative makers in the neighborhood— we want to be part of it." And the duo is certainly committed, as evidenced by the hoops they were forced to jump through— with the aid of the SF Brewer's Guild —to change permitting in the area to allow a brewery. And now that breweries are approved, Casteel would love to have more beer-makin' neighbors in the neighborhood.
The current space allows for a maximum production of six thousand barrels, with the intent to operate similarly to a boutique winery. "When I travel, I try to get the things I can't get when I'm at home," explained Casteel. That means keeping Laughing Monk local to San Francisco and California and offering their beers on tap at local bars, and available for direct sale through the website and beer club. A tasting room will be located in the front of the brewery, with the possibility of food from neighboring Azalina's commercial kitchen— Casteel notes that flavorful Malaysian food would be a great pairing with their beers.
Casteel describes Laughing Monk's beers as "California-Belgian crossover beer," using their signature beer, Sunshine Saison, as a prime example. The beer is brewed using both Belgian and Californian traditions, with ingredients like Chamomile harvested from local area— an ideal pairing for San Francisco's unusual late summer weather.The saison will soon be found at local beer-focused bars, as well as in the tasting room.
Right now the grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, November 21. Stay tuned for more details on the tasting room as they become available.