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Where to Drink Super Rare Beers This Weekend and More Beer Intel

All the beer news you need to know

Adrian Spinelli

Welcome to your weekly round-up of notable beer news from around the Bay Area. Here you’ll find tasting notes, notable beer lists, openings, closings, brewery news and more from writer Adrian Spinelli. Have some news we need to know about? Send us at tip at sf@eater.com. Cheers!


June 15

Local Brewing Breaking Out Super Rare Beers For Anniversary Party

SOMA’s Local Brewing Company is celebrating its second anniversary this Saturday, with a brewery bash from 2 p.m.- 8 p.m. Co-owner/head brewer Regan Long has some serious heavy-hitter beers ready to rock for the occasion, starting with the Super Juice Double IPA: a Simcoe, Stratta and Lupulin powder-hopped DIPA with orange blossom and Mexican tropical fruit notes (think mango and piña.) “It’s staying true to my background as a West coast style brewer,” Long says of the cloudy 8.6 percent beer. “But it’s also very relevant where people want more hop flavor and aroma.” Cans become available at Saturday’s event and soon at local retailers like Gus’s, Whole Foods Potrero, Epicurean Trader, and other specialty stores.

But the biggest guns of them all are the rare barrel-aged beers, starting with the Pinot Barrel aged Pucker Dubbel. Only 75 bottles will be available for purchase, along with one keg on draft for Saturday’s event (label art for this and Super Juice done by local graffiti artist, Maska). It’s essentially Local’s Shangai’d belgian dubbel, with added brett and other funky yeast strains. Tannins come through from the Oro en Paz Winery pinot barrel, with dark cherry & blackberry flavors prevailing in a jammy, well-balanced sour. Also available special for Saturday are the coffee-infused Belgian Bump, aged in a Four Roses Bourbon Barrel, as well as the rum barrel-aged Tradewind Tropical Stout, Giant Connect 4, Giant Jenga and cornhole (FYI, the latter three are not beers.)

Best Bet For Weekend Beer And Music: Phono Del Sol Festival

Lagunitas has done a killer job of aligning themselves with local music and local music events. This Saturday, they’ll be pouring 12th of Never Ale, Lil’ Sumpin Sumpin and their Flagship Lagunitas IPA at perhaps the year’s truest local music festival, Phono Del Sol. Taking place at Potrero Del Sol Park, Phono Del Sol is put on by The Bay Bridged and this year’s lineup is highlighted by indie rock darling Jay Som, Thee Oh Sees, Oakland future soul quintet Bells Atlas and incredibly talented R&B singer Rayana Jay. This is an opportunity to get a real snapshot of the who’s who in the local music scene, on a beautiful day in the park, with a cold beer or four. Tickets and more info available here.

Temescal Brewing Celebrates First Birthday

Speaking of anniversaries, Temescal Brewing has their first on Saturday from 2-6pm at their Oakland brewery. There’ll be special anniversary cans, cask ales tapped, mac and cheese from Homeroom, DJ’s and “surprises.” (Who doesn’t love surprises?!) The forecast calls for a lovely sunny Saturday if you’re in The Town.

It's happening! Obligatory canning video!

A post shared by Cellarmaker (@cellarmakerbrewing) on

Cellarmaker Releases Cans For The First Time; Lines Go Down the Block

On Tuesday, Cellarmaker Brewing company released cans for the first time ever and they were extremely popular. So much so, that lines were stretching all the way down Howard St to 8th St before selling out,. Wicked Juice IPA and the fantastic The Glow Pale Ale were the first two Cellarmaker beers to get canned and you can anticipate more releases in the future. Until then, hit up their tap room and drink a couple pints or fill up a growler. Guaranteed to provide similar degrees of satisfaction.

Fieldwork Will Expand To Five Locations By The End Of Summer

Berkeley’s Fieldwork Brewing Already has established operations in Berkeley, Napa’s Oxbow Market and Sacramento’s Handle District. They’ve now confirmed that their San Mateo beer garden will be opening this month and a Monterey location in July. The San Mateo location is of particular intrigue: The Bay Meadows facility includes a 4,500-square-foot “European style beer garden with 30 tap lines, communal fire pits, a bocce ball court” and a full food menu.

Beer of The Week: Local Brewing’s Neverclear

While the anniversary beers at Local Brewing are notable, their Neverclear “Summer IPA” has somehow flown under the radar. It’s hopped primarily with Mosaic Hops along with some Citra, has a white-tinted haze and might just be the best beer on Local’s thorough current draft list. Get it this weekend, get it next week, just get it. It’s a damn fine brew.


June 8

More Criticism of Golden Road’s Proposed Oakland Beer Garden

Despite growing disapproval by the Oakland community, LA-based (and AB InBev owned) Golden Road Brewing Co. has not abandoned their crusade for opening a shipping container beer garden in Temescal. On Sunday, a long-standing voice in the Bay Area beer community, Sayre Piotrkowski (Monk’s Kettle, Hog’s Apothecary, HenHouse), penned an impassioned plea in the SF Chronicle in support of a thriving Oakland beer community. He emphasized how a brewery with major corporate interests would be detrimental to small breweries in that community and blur the very concept of what a community stands for. “They know that they can’t compete with us on a level playing field, so their tactics are becoming more nakedly monopolistic,” said Piotrkowski.

Fort Point Hoping to Open Mission Brewery & Restaurant

As Eater reported last week, Fort Point Brewery is going through the motions to open a brewpub on 20th and Shotwell in the same building as the Timbuk2 factory & showroom. The plans have met some opposition from neighbors, but Fort Point seems to be doing their best to have an ongoing open dialogue with that community. The impetus for the location is not just to expand, but to step beyond from Fort Point’s Presidio brewing facility which is not open to the public, brew new specialty beers and establish a destination for customers aside from their predominantly tourist friendly Ferry Building sidewalk taproom. And hey, if Fort Point’s costs are cut to where they don’t have to charge the nearly $10 out the door tag of some brews at the Ferry Building outpost, then everybody wins. Full story here.

Brewery Music Events This Week

The second installment of the Lagunitas LIVE series features excellent LA singer-songwriter, The White Buffalo, on Monday at their Petaluma brewery. On Tuesday, Anchor Brewing welcomes Sunset-based bands Spooky Mansion and Bear Call to the Make-Out Room for a FREE show with $1 off beers as part of their Drink Steam! series. Quality music and local beer abound. (Full disclosure: The author helps curate musical selections for Anchor Brewing’s Drink Steam! series)

Beer List Of The Week: Hogwash

The Lower Nob Hill/Union Square beer hall has 30 beers on tap at any time and the current list is equal parts local favorites and local novelties, while still nodding to the German and European-style brews served at beer halls after which Hogwash fashions itself. Turlock’s Dust Bowl IPA is a crushable and balanced brew that still checks in at seven percent ABV. Laughing Monk’s Book of Palms Kettle Sour is always a favorite and it’s cool to see German classics like Weihenstephaner and Hacker Pschorr in a world where many local taprooms just go for what’s buzzy. There’s something for polished beer drinkers as well as newcomers on this well-rounded list (above). Experts recommend taking down an All-Day Sausage Sandwich (pork sausage with maple & ginger arugula, duck egg) along with your beer of choice.


June 2

Drink a Beer at Paddy’s Pub This Weekend

Perhaps you’ve heard about Colossal Clusterfest, the massive comedy and music fest taking over SF’s Civic Center this weekend? Comedy Central, Superfly and APE are bringing big names in comedy like Jerry Seinfeld and Kevin Hart along with musical acts like Ice Cube, Ty Segall and Tegan & Sara, for 3 days of craziness in the heart of the city.

Perhaps the coolest part of Clusterfest is the incredibly accurate re-creations of Seinfeld’s Apartment, the quiet mountain town of South Park and Paddy’s Pub from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. The latter of which feels exactly like being at Paddy’s with Sweet Dee, Mac and the gang. There’s a full bar and “craft” beer offerings (Hop Valley, Saint Archer, Blue Moon) and you can actually order “Beef and Beer” or a “Grilled Charlie” too. Want more? On Sunday, they’ll be showing the Warriors/Cavs Game 2 on the bar TV’s. Sure. Tickets are available here.

Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Comes to SF

Beer Camp is Sierra’s collaboration efforts with a slew of the nation’s finest breweries and this Saturday, the Beer Camp on Tour Festival comes to Pier 48. The lineup is a flat-out ridiculous who’s who of the craft beer world, with rare beers, food trucks and live music from Hibbity Dibbity and The Love Dimension. Out of town breweries like Bend’s Crux and San Diego’s Pizza Port along with local faves like Berkeley’s The Rare Barrel and Oakland’s Ale Industries are in the mix. Full brewery list and tickets ($55 GA/$75 early entry) available here. Event is from 1-5pm.

Barebottle is...err...Bottling

Bernal/Bayview-based Barebottle Brew Co will be bottling beers for only the second time ever. Their hazy and very delicious Galaxy Dust IPA and Muir Woods IPA collab with homebrewer John Warner will be bottled on Tuesday June 6th and available in the tap room beginning June 7th. Get there.

Petaluma Hills Brewing

Balboa Theatre’s Beer Movie Series

The Richmond’s Balboa Theatre is an SF staple. Knocking back a cold one in an arthouse style theater is a treat. Now on Saturdays at 10pm, you can get admission and a Lagunitas 12th of Never can for only $10. The movie this Saturday (6/3) is Superbad, but there’s a delightful selection of flicks in the coming weeks including Dazed & Confused, The Lost Boys, and Roadhouse.

Beer of The Week - Petaluma Hills Line & Twine IPA

News broke last week that Petaluma Hills Brewing Co will be closing it’s doors at the end of June. Owner JJ Jay told the Press Democrat that the main reason for closing was that he didn’t start the brewery with enough capital back in 2011. Sad news aside, their Line & Twine IPA flagship beer — with it’s balanced Centennial hop backbone —is a stalwart Bay Area IPA from where we’re standing and it’ll certainly be missed. Fresh Line & Twine as well as the nitro version can still be had at the brewery, while Cans of the 7.7% Line & Twine are a damn steal at $13.99 for a 16oz 6-pack (if you can find what’s left of them). So long sweet prince.


May 25

Ferment Drink Repeat’s inspiring Memorial Day beer

Portola District’s Ferment Drink Repeat will honor Memorial Day and the armed men and women who gave their lives for our country with the release of “Fallen Comrade,” a Red Ale. Owner and brewer Kevin Inglin is a veteran and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col himself, and the “Fallen Comrade” recipe is an inspiring homage to the attributes of the “Fallen Comrade Table,” a military tradition wherein a place-setting is arranged to honor the deceased at formal military gatherings.

“Fallen Comrade’s red color, symbolizes the blood that has been shed on the battlefield, it uses lemon peel to signify the bitter fate of the fallen, and salt to reflect the tears that have been shed by loved ones left behind,” Inglin wrote in a statement. “I felt it was important to incorporate the Fallen Comrade Table tradition into the beer because the symbolism is so significant.”

Visit FDR’s Portola taproom this weekend and a portion of the proceeds of sales of Fallen Comrade from Friday-Sunday will be donated to The Memory Box Project, which makes hand-crafted heirlooms for the families of the fallen. The brewery will be closed Monday in observance of Memorial Day.

BottleRock’s beer lineup proves it’s not all about wine

It’s not just a wine party at BottleRock Napa Valley, which goes down this weekend from Friday to Sunday at the Napa Valley Fairgrounds. Sure, the growing festival is synonymous with Napa wine country and its many fine viticultural offerings, but this year’s beer spread at BottleRock is nothing short of impressive.

Aside from the big name beers available that are common at most festivals (Heineken, Coors Light, etc..) there’s fine Bay Area breweries like Winters-based Berryessa, Livermore’s Altamont, Auburn’s Knee Deep, and the wine-inspired beers of Berkeley’s Calicraft — the latter seems especially appropriate for BottleRock.

Also of note are hop-heavy breweries from other parts of the West Coast like Santa Barbara’s Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co (look out for GABF winner Lizard’s Mouth IPA!), Eugene’s Ninkasi Brewing and San Diego’s Stone Brewing, a California classic. Check out the full BottleRock Napa Valley beer lineup here.

Beer of the Week: Anchor’s blood orange blonde

Anchor Brewing Co. just released the third beer in their Pacific Siren Series of fruit-enhanced beers and it might just be the best one yet. Blood Orange Blonde is exactly that, a Blonde Ale brewed with juicy blood oranges. And where many beers that use blood oranges can easily lose the luster of the fruit or come across as too overblown in their use, Anchor and brewmaster Scott Ungermann have done a nice job with this one.

California orange peels are added in the brew kettle and then Sanguinello cultivar blood oranges are added in the secondary fermentation process. It’s tangy and has a slightly bitter finish, but still drinks like a crisp Blonde Ale and can be filed in the “perfect for Dolores Park” category. The gorgeous label, like the other Pacific Siren Series beers (Meyer Lemon Lager and Mango Wheat) is inspired by California fruit crate labels of the 1930s and 1940s. The beer is now available in 6-packs of cans, on draught throughout town, as well as at the Anchor Brewery and The Yard at AT&T park. Cheers!


May 18

Beer of The Week: Souvla’s private label Greek beer

Though the beer of week typically ends this weekly roundup, Souvla’s private label Greek Lager travelled so far to be a part of the Bay Area beer family that it’s earned a more prominent position. In fact, Souvla’s three locations (Hayes Valley, Divis and Valencia) have America’s only all-Greek beverage list, from beer to wine. Owner Charles Bililies began the all-Greek journey on a research and development trip a couple years ago to talk to Souvla’s private label winemaker Domaine Skouras ,in the ancient city of Argos (in the Greek Peloponnese peninsula).

“The ZEOS brewery was only 10 minutes away from the winery. So I went there to talk to their brewer,” Bililies says. At the time, Souvla was already serving ZEOS pilsner, so he had an existing relationship with the Greek brewery known for making non-export fresh beer typically consumed by the people of Argos as a refreshing after-work beer To his surprise, he came away with the plans for the first order of a pallet of Souvla’s Greek Lager.

The beer itself is a classic pairing for food: simple, crisp and refreshing. It finishes cleaner than a pilsner, but has more flavor than a typical lager. Its bold color still manages to come through in the signature clear blue bottle with a blue and white label reminiscent of the Greek flag. "It’s everything it needs to be in the context of Souvla," Bililies says of the aptly-suited lone beer option at all Souvla locations. Souvla’s “fine-casual” Greek food concept continues to expand, and their Greek Lager is a welcome accompaniment to their sandwiches, salads and even the fantastic breakfast sandwich.

Adrian Spinelli

Elysian now brewing Space Dust IPA in the Bay Area

Seattle-based Elysian Brewing is now also brewing its popular Space Dust IPA in the Bay Area at Budweiser's 700,000-square-foot facility in Fairfield. Elysian was acquired by AB InBev in January 2015, and now serves as an early example of how a smaller brewery is taking advantage of the resources available to them through the AB partnership to grow as a brand. The Fairfield brewery in fact, recently made significant additions in order to “expand high-end brewing capability for high end craft partners,” by adding 12 new unitanks, 2 yeast brinks, a dry hopping system, and more.

In a recent conversation, Elysian Brewing Founder and CEO Joe Bisacca explained that “Space Dust is growing incredibly fast and quality is our number one thing.” Head Brewer Josh Waldman echoed this sentiment citing “process” and “consistency” as the most important factors for a high quality beer that tastes the same no matter what facility produces it. Though the conglomerate has many critics, most still agree that a partnership with the company ensures a consistent, high quality product— which is exactly what’s coming out of Fairfield. Regardless of where your loyalties lie, Space Dust is a stellar IPA, with Chinook hops as its backbone and Citra and Amarillo hops later added. The 8.2% abv beer is among the most drinkable IPA’s with such a high ABV.

Bisacca later explained that Elysian is more focused on expanding sales at supermarkets and chain stores, rather than bars and restaurants. So don’t expect to see Space Dust replacing your favorite local beers on tap, and there are no plans for an Elysian beer garden made out of shipping containers in Oakland anytime soon. As we try to make sense what the future of beer looks like with AB snatching up craft breweries nation-wide, the biggest takeaway from speaking with Bisacca and Waldman is how they remain autonomous and this seems to ring true across all of AB’s “high-end” brands.

Outside Lands Announces Beer Lands Line-Up

Outside Lands Festival descends upon Golden Gate Park from August 11th-13th and Beer Lands is back, providing an opportunity for festival-goers to drink beer from Bay Area craft breweries. While specific beers from each breweries haven’t been announced, Bayview’s Laughing Monk, Livermore’s Altamont, Monterey’s Alvarado Street, Oakland United and Lower Haight’s Black Sands breweries are welcome additions to the slate. Here’s hoping one day, that permits can be softened to allow representatives from the breweries to pour at the festival, or at least be present, so consumers can engage with these brands in an educated fashion. Historically, OSL has used employees from their beverage/catering service provider, who are just there to do their job and pour beer, rather than talk about the nuances of these fine local beers.

HenHouse and Hog’s Apothecary Teaming For Benefit Beer pairing Dinner

Mark your calendars for Sunday May 28th, for a special dinner at Hog’s Apothecary in Oakland featuring HenHouse Beer pairings. Dinner includes three courses prepared by Hog’s Apothecary sous chef Daniel Solero and four beer pairings from HenHouse’s head Brewer Shane Goepel and all-around Bay Area beer moral compass, Sayre Piotkowski (also of HenHouse.) Tickets are $55 here and 10% of all proceeds will go to benefit Mamacita’s Cafe, “an Oakland-based pop-up cafe dedicated to providing and expanding employment and leadership opportunities for young women of color.”

Drake’s and Triple Rock Celebrate American Craft Beer Week

Two notable events coming up at different ends of the ABV spectrum. First up, this Friday the 19th, Triple Rock Brewery in Berkeley has their “Nuclear Free Strong Beer Fest.” They’ll be unveiling two new Triple IPA’s in “Nuclear Free” and “Nuclear Fallout,” as well as featuring strong beers from local breweries like Cellarmaker, Fieldwork, Alvarado St and more. Event is free and gets going at 4 p.m.

On Saturday May 20th, Drake’s Brewing presents the Oakland “Session Beer Fest” at Jack London Square from 1-5pm. Over 35 breweries will be present pouring all beers under 5% abv. There’ll be live music, food, games and a free bike valet from event co-presenter Bike East Bay. All ages are welcome and tickets are $30 here or $35 at the door. Cheers!


May 11

AB InBev Strengthens control of South African Hops, potentially hampering local craft breweries

AB InBev has reportedly allocated all South African hops from SABMiller hop farms for the conglomeration’s “high end” craft brands. Confused? Ok, so when AB InBev agreed on terms to purchase SABMiller in late-2015 and then ultimately sealed the acquisition in October of 2016, they also acquired all of SABMiller’s global hop farms, including those in the South African market. There’s generally a surplus of these hops and smaller craft breweries have made purchasing some of this surplus for their own unique creations, an integral part of what differentiates their business and a favorite among craft beer-drinkers.

SOMA’s Cellarmaker in particular has made good use of South African hops, like Southern Passion and African Queen. A later tweet from them says they have “a full pallet of South African hops left. Should be in beers for about a year or so.” Cellarmaker proprietor Connor Casey elaborated with Eater on his stock of South African hops by telling us that: "I bought them because I had heard rumblings of a merger and was worried this might happen."

The news itself broke in a leaked memo from an independent hop distributor sent to Rhode Island brewery Proclamation, and has since been confirmed. Frankly, these should be expected after-effects of AB InBev’s play into the craft beer world. It’s bad news for local breweries, but there’s no doubt Cellarmaker will find a way to adjust and continue to be at the forefront of beer innovation.

Speakeasy Brewing will live on

Back in March, Bayview’s beloved Speakeasy brewing announced that they were ceasing operations after “difficulty securing capital investment and outstanding debt obligations.” Unsurprisingly, Speakeasy’s beers have been a bit of a hipster relic for the past two months when San Franciscans decided to start drinking them again instead of whatever was new and hot and of course, Instagramming nostalgically.

But Speakeasy’s flagship Prohibition Ale has always been nothing short of an iconic beer, and investor/former beverage distributor Ces Butner realizing this, ponied up $2.5 million to purchase the brewery. “Keeping Speakeasy’s San Francisco born and brewed tradition alive is very important to me,” Butner said in a statement earlier this week. This is good news and they’ll be ramping up operations immediately, with the tap room slated to open asap. Check out our Tuesday post for full details of the acquisition.

Dumpling Time’s ambitious beer list

Popular SOMA-based Omakase Restaurant Group (Omakase, Okane, Live Sushi Bistro) is set to open a Dumpling and Beer House next Friday called Dumpling Time at 11 Division St and it’s pretty sweet. For the beer lovers, there’ll be ten beers on draft and proprietor Kash Feng is aiming to have “five Japanese or Asian beers and five SF Bay Area beers.” A preliminary list has the usual suspects like Sapporo, Asahi, Anchor and Fort Point, but Feng says Dumpling Time will be rounding out the list with more unique selections shortly after they open. Also in store Feng says, are the much talked-about machines for Asahi Extra Cold, that make near-frozen foam to go atop a pint. The frozen foam keeps the beer colder longer and gives the crisp and dry Japanese lager a creamier texture.

Adrian Spinelli

What to pair? The Xiao Long Bao especially (soup dumplings) call for a cold beer, like a Coedo Japanese Pilsner to wash them down. The Tom Yum Goong have heritage pork belly, black tiger shrimp and coconut milk wrapped in dough colored with beets. They explode in your mouth packed with umami and Feng explains that “the Mandarin dumplings and the sauce are more flavorful than regular dim sum, so you need something to balance it out.” Dumpling Time opens May 19.

Thirsty Bear has three new beers for American Craft Beer Week

While American Craft Beer Week (May 15-21) might not be on your radar, SOMA’s Thirsty Bear Organic Brewing Company is prepared, as they’ll be tapping three very locally-minded brews next week. All three beers are using SF’s original California Common yeast strain and have clever Bay Area names in, “The 49er,” “Cable Car IPC” and just plain “California Common.”

Pop into Thirsty Bear starting Monday for a 5oz pour of each one for $8. And if you really want to geek out, on Saturday May 20th at 8pm Thirsty Bear will be premiering a documentary feature called Blood, Sweat And Beer, about the explosion of the craft beer scene in America. Tickets are $10 and include a draft beer.

Live at Lagunitas Line-up announced

Even though Heineken now controls 100% of Lagunitas Brewing Company, the splendid “Live at Lagunitas” concert series has been announced for 2017 at the Petaluma brewery’s intimate Amphitheater. This is a great reason for a short weeknight drive to Petaluma for a couple beers on the lawn and some excellent artists. Highlights include NPR’s most recent Tiny Desk Contest winners Tank and The Bangas on June 27th, modern jazz band BadBadNotGood on July 18th, Chicago indie rockers Whitney on July 25th, and the great Mavis Staples on September 11th. Best part about it? All of these shows are FREE with RSVP. Just make sure to be on the horn when the competitive ticket registration opens for each show. Full lineup and RSVP dates here.

Beer of The Week:

Shady Oak’s Electric Relaxation
Adrian Spinelli

Santa Rosa’s Shady Oak Barrel House has been making most excellent wild and barrel aged beers since their inception three years ago. And owner/Brewmaster Steve Doty’s latest creation, Electric Relaxation, is another fine addition to their stellar lineup. Aged in French Oak for 18 months, Electric Relaxation is a classic barrel-aged ale, with balanced acidity and minerality. The oak comes through nicely, it’s not too sour and lo and behold, the beer named after the classic A Tribe Called Quest song, “pairs well with rainy day hikes, 90’s hip-hop, and your favorite spirit animal.” So relax yourself girl [or guy] and please settle down with this fine brew now available in bottles throughout the Bay.


May 4

Heineken now owns 100 percent of Lagunitas

Last week Eater SF covered Lagunitas’ enormous Chicago facility and told you about an organization that was clearly focused on “expanding their international operation.” Today comes news that Heineken International has purchased the remaining 50 percent stake of Petaluma-based Lagunitas Brewing Company.

Back in September of 2015, when Heineken purchased the first 50 percent of the brewery, eccentric Lagunitas founder and executive chairman Tony Magee said that the partnership would allow for Heineken to help distribute Lagunitas “in places from Tierra Del Fuego and Mongolia to the far-flung Isle of Langerhans.” Today, in an in-depth blog post, Magee said the following about the finalized sale:

“I am using Lagunitas’ equity to buy deeper into an organization that will help us go farther more quickly than we could have on our own. You hafta imagine Jonah standing on the gunnel of the storm-tossed ship and intentionally leaping into the mouth of the whale to embrace the transformation and emerge to become his own destiny.”

Lagunitas will continue to operate as a separate business entity within the company as part of their Americas region (which includes Heineken USA, Heineken Mexico and Heineken Brazil.) Lagunitas is now essentially the “craft” extension of Heineken International and it’s crazy to think how that little brewery that started in Petaluma and made a killer IPA, is now angling to take over the craft beer world. Magee will stay on board in an consultant role to the Executive Board as the Director of Global Craft, overseeing global and local craft strategy. “This is the most humbling and simultaneously energizing ‘next-phase’ imaginable to me,” Magee said. Wow.

Social Kitchen & Brewery Celebrates 7th Anniversary, Renovates Mezzanine and Taps Razzscallion

The Inner Sunset’s Social Kitchen & Brewery has been a staple on the popular 9th and Irving area for seven years; now they’ve made some welcome changes to their sunny space. The mezzanine seating area has been re-designed with new bar tables that open up the space and make it more, ahem, social. Also, a beautiful new mural by Bridget Moser is up on the mezzanine wall, depicting Social’s brewing process and there’s beautiful artwork by local artist Todd Kurnat throughout the whole space.

To celebrate the anniversary, Brewmaster Kim Sturdevant cooked up a batch of ‘Razzscallion,’ which is a play on Social’s Rapscallion golden Belgian-style Ale, but conditioned on loads of Raspberry puree. “It’s almost shandy-like,” Sturdevant says. But proceed with caution, as it has a very un-shandy-like 7.5 percent abv. Also of note, are the GABF gold-medal winning ‘Mr. Kite’s’ English-style Pale Ale is perfect for the warm weather we’ve been experiencing and ‘The Rice Is Right’ (Lochristi Blend) is a most-excellent Belgian Tripel brewed with jasmine rice and re-fermented with brett yeast.

Fiesta De Cervezas at Diving Dog Brewhouse

For their ‘Fiesta De Cervezas,’ Downtown Oakland’s Diving Dog Brewhouse is bringing in beer from five Mexican breweries that you’ve probably never tried: Border Psycho, Fauna, Baja Brewing Co, Agua Mala and Wendlandt Cerveceria (plus a special guest brewer). Diving Dog, which is steps from the Downtown Oakland/19th St BART, will be open at 1 p.m. on Friday— if you stick around long enough, you can make your way down Telegraph for Oakland’s First Friday Cinco de Mayo Art Murmur celebration.

Anchor and Ommegang’s “Wildcard” Saison is Here

Back in October, Anchor Brewing and Cooperstown, NY’s Brewery Ommegang made a bet on the Giants versus Mets wildcard game. The losing brewer, would venture to the other’s city and brew a collaboration beer. The Giants won triumphantly (shout out to Conor Gillaspie) and while the beer was supposed to be ready for Opening Day, it’s finally here for the start of baseball season’s second month. ‘Wildcard Saison,’ is an unfiltered beer which uses Ommegang’s proprietary saison yeast in Anchor’s open-fermentation tanks. It’s a crushable saison, with a crisp finish that checks in at 6.2 percent abv. It’s available in growlers at the Anchor Brewery and on draft at the Anchor Beer Garden at AT&T Park.


April 27

Comal Creates a Taproom Menu at Fieldwork Brewing

Berkeley’s favorite modern Mexican restaurant Comal is now providing the food menu at Fieldwork’s taproom. Some of the new items include a roasted poblano chile, sweet corn and jack cheese tamale, a rotisserie chicken tamale, multiple grilled cheese sandwiches and snacks like chili-lime corn nuts. Service started this Monday; check out the full menu here.

Novel Brewing

Novel is a welcome presence on the Berkeley/North Oakland Border

Novel Brewing, located just south of the Oakland/Berkeley border, is a good example of what a community brewery ought to look like. The humble taproom was filled with mostly locals and the family-friendly vibe was laid back, with board games and couches throughout, dogs welcome and some notable brews on tap.

The Park Factor Kolsch was on par with Fort Point’s KSA: Crisp, refreshing and finishes super clean. The Dust Jacket IPA was a worthy spin on the trendy New England IPA’s dominating the craft beer scene and the Joelle Berliner-Weisse has just the right amount of tart and an earthy finish.

Breweries like Novel are an important part of the tightly-packed communities in which they reside. Small taprooms like this don’t infringe on other similar spots in different neighborhoods because it’s exactly that: a neighborhood spot. Read Novel’s blog series on how a local family starts a brewery for more intel on what makes a small business great.

The Lagunitas Chicago Expansion Beyond the Bay Is Massive

Petaluma’s Lagunitas Brewing Company is a Bay Area and craft beer institution. However, their 50% sale to Heineken in late-2015 raised some eyebrows. Now the brewery is using the partnership to focus on expanding their growing worldwide operation— their enormous three-year-old facility in founder Tony Magee’s hometown of Chicago is definitely a big expansion.

Lagunitas Chicago
Adrian Spinelli

The new facility is massive, with gigantic tanks housed within a 300 thousand square-foot former steel plant. There are some seriously over-the-top features, like a Willy Wonka-esque pathway to the tap room, but there’s a vibrant culture and the same beer that was born in the Bay.

Standout beers were the wet-hopped Born Again Yesterday, which is one of the best beers Lagunitas has made in recent memory, and the High-Westified Imperial Coffee Stout, aged in High West Whiskey Barrels.

Beer of The Week: Laughing Monk’s Coffee ‘N’ Cream Ale

Laughing Monk’s lightly toasted Coffee ‘N’ Cream is reminiscent of the best East Coast Cream Ales. There’s a harmonious balance of coffee and vanilla flavors, as they take turns lingering on your finish palate. The Bayview taproom is a comfortable refuge on the outskirts of SF with light bites to boot.

Laughing Monk’s Coffe ‘N’ Cream Ale
Adrian Spinelli

April 20

Cornerstone Opens in Berkeley

Cornerstone
Cornerstone

Cornerstone, a craft beer haven and spacious live music venue is now open in the heart of Downtown Berkeley. The husband and wife team of Alex Popov and Stef Dotson (Pappy’s Grill & formerly of Smart Alec’s on Telegraph) have completely remodeled the massive space previously occupied by the college-crowd-friendly Thalassa Pool Hall. They have 40 beer taps, around half of which are of local breweries from Barebottle to Iron Springs, and an impressive out of town selection like Logsdon’s Szech N’ Brett, Maine Beer Co’s Pale and Brouwerij West’s Dog Ate My Homework, plus a full bar and food menu to boot.

The music venue has a comfortable 413 person capacity (SF’s The Independent has a 500 person capacity in comparison) with a beautiful mezzanine and solid sound separation from the restaurant/taproom to the venue. (There’s also an additional small stage on the restaurant side to accommodate DJ’s and more low-key bands.)

Popov says the very ambitious project has been five years in the making and under construction for 2.5 years. ”Were lucky because we have the patience, along with the operational skill to make it work.”

Anchor Releases Los Gigantes Mexican Style Lager

Get excited: Baseball season is here! Anchor Brewing Company’s new Los Gigantes Style Mexican Lager is also here. This is super easy-to-drink stuff that’s light and crisp, available on draught, in 12 ounce cans; Anchor is also rolling out 16 ounce cans for the first time ever. The can design is gorgeous (below) and these pair well with pre-game boozing at The Yard at At&t Park, at a barbecue or on a sunny afternoon at Dolores Park.

Double Dobis is back at Cellarmaker (among a couple other notable releases)

Probably Cellarmaker’s best, and therefore most popular Double IPA, the Double Dobis is back for now, in all it’s 100% Citra-hopped pineapple-y goodness. Also on the board are the Mo’ Nelson IPA with Nelson and Mosaic Hops and the creamsicle-like Orange Julian. No better time than now to go say “hello” on Howard St.

Beer List of The Week: Pacific Standard Taproom by Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

Just shy of a year old, this taproom in the heart of downtown Berkeley is a welcome addition to the area. The beer list is robust, with a half dozen selections from Half Moon Bay Brewing and 24 total taps that are an excellent reflection of local and regional beers. The stand-out on my first trip was HMB’s Tasty Remnants IPA, with El Dorado & Denali hops, along with Eukanot Lupulin Powder. It was juicy and flavorful without trying to conform to “Juicy IPA” trends (I took a growler fill home, it was that good.)

At any point, you’ll find beers on the list from breweries like Kern River, Altamont, Eagle Rock, Alvarado St, Fieldwork, etc...I stopped in before seeing Radiohead at The Greek Theater (#humblebrag) and had a killer Stingray Imperial IPA from San Diego’s Coronado Brewing. The light bites were simple and solid, there was a baseball game on, and this is officially my new go-to pre-funk spot before a show at The Greek or a “meeting” in Berkeley.

Beer of The Week: Temescal Brewing’s Heads Up IPA

It’s hard to believe that Temescal Brewing Co is only having it’s 1st Anniversary in June. They’ve had their ups and downs early in the game, but they are making some consistently great beers these days. The hazy Heads Up IPA uses three different hops: Mosaic, Mandarina and Nugget. It’s hop-forward, but totally crushable. With an orange blossom nose, hints of guava and subtle citrus tones, it’s a marvelous creation. I had one at the tap room last week and then another at Hamlet in Noe this week. Let’s just say that it travels well across the Bay.

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