A pair of Bay Area beer industry professionals are bringing back one of San Francisco’s historic brands this summer. Co-owners Cameron McDonald and Jesse Hayter, who have spent the last decade or so working at various local breweries, will open the new iteration of Enterprise Brewing at 1150 Howard Street, an address that beer aficionados will undoubtedly recognize as the long-time home of legendary San Francisco brewery Cellarmaker.
The brewery shut down the SoMa taproom back in November and wrapped up production in the space this spring, before handing the keys over to the Enterprise Brewing team. Now McDonald and Hayter are brewing in the narrow production space and gearing up for an August 5 grand opening.
McDonald, who’s in charge of brewing, says he and Hayter, who will run the sales side, have been looking for a space to start their own brewery for quite some time. After meeting while working at Fort Point Beer Company, long before it became a power player in the local beer scene, McDonald spent time working at Standard Deviant and later at Seven Stills. The experiences working for larger production breweries made the pair confident they wanted a small enough project that they could manage mostly on their own, at least to start, and they knew they wanted to be in San Francisco. So when the Cellarmaker space became available, it checked almost all the duo’s boxes. “We worked really hard to get really lucky,” Hayter says.
With the equipment already in the building and the liquor license transfer underway, they’re already getting to work making beer. McDonald says the goal is simple: make the beers they like to drink, which means the tap list will include a pilsner, a pale ale, and eventually a lager. They’re eschewing trends — sorry, no mouth-puckering fruit-laden sours or powerful barrel-aged numbers — and focusing on approachable beers you can drink several of in one sitting. “Not one-and-done beers,” McDonald says. For the grand opening, they’re also working on a hazy collab with Cellarmaker, something to say thank you to their team and to meet the cravings of the brewery’s many fans.
And as for the name, if it doesn’t ring a bell, it’s probably because Enterprise Brewing — the original one — operated in San Francisco during the city’s beer-soaked heyday more than a century ago. Fueled by thirsty gold seekers, brands including Anchor Steam and the now-defunct Hibernia Brewing Company once produced beer in the city. But many of the city’s historic brewhouses either burned in the fire following the 1906 earthquake or were decimated by the onset of Prohibition. Enterprise Brewing, according to SFGATE, operated from 1873 to 1920 and was one of the five largest breweries in the city at the time.
But McDonald says, no one owned the trademark, which meant an opportunity for them to revive the name. “We’re paying homage to an old SF brand,” he says. “It’s a throwback to when San Francisco was a manufacturing town — SF made stuff.”
Once they’re up and running, they’ll do a limited amount of self-distribution mostly to bars in the city, ones where they’ve got connections thanks to their years in the scene. You might eventually see Enterprise on tap at Junior, Pop’s, and Madrone, and maybe over on the island of Alameda since they’re using products from local favorite Admiral Maltings. There’s no food component aside from small prepared snacks, so customers will be welcome to bring in pizza or tacos, or whatever they want to eat. Then within the first few months, they’ll start hosting pop-ups in the space. Thirty-two-ounce crowlers will be up for sale, plus crowler coozies to protect the hands of anyone taking their big, cold beer to the park. The brewery is also along a route of the San Francisco Bike Network, so pedal on over, the pair suggests.
Mostly the duo says they’re excited to create a place for the SoMa community to come together and share a pint. The neighborhood, they admit, isn’t the most dense in terms of nightlife and food and beverage options, but there are gems in the area and they hope to become a part of that community. Hayter’s optimistic about the future of San Francisco in general, pointing out that — despite the doom loop chatter — the increase in vacant spaces right now means first-time business owners like him and McDonald might be able to take a risk on something they couldn’t have done before. “Town is going to get great again,” he says. “The opportunity is there in a way that it hasn’t been before.”
Enterprise Brewing Company (1150 Howard Street in San Francisco) will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, August 5. Keep an eye on the brewery’s Instagram for updates and information about soft opening hours.