Of course the city of San Francisco is blessed with a bevy of high quality craft breweries – in fact they have a SF Brewers association called the “Guild” since 2004. Members are: 21st Amendment, Anchor Brewing, Beach Chalet, Cerveceria, Magnolia, Social, Southern Pacific, Southpaw, Speakeasy, Almanac, PacBrewLab, Pizza Orgasmica, Shmaltz and Triple Voodoo.
Now I haven’t been to them all – (Pizza Orgasmica? – hmm) – but I have been meaning to get to Speakeasy for a while – their powerful “west coast” Big Daddy and Double Daddy IPA’s are all over the Bay area, and now starting to make it out east. Around since 1997, putting out about 20,000 bbl last year – the Brewery is situated in the City’s southern “Bayview” area, and Speakeasy has more than made a name for itself.
They were only open to the public on Friday afternoon/evenings when I was visiting, though they were about to open a “tap room” for SF beer week in early February 2013 to welcome their fans and BeerAppreciators everywhere.
Their Double Daddy is an imperial IPA that stands up comfortably to the best west “imperial IPA’s” like those from Lagunitas (Hop Stoopid, Maximus), Green Flash (Imperial, Palate Wrecker), Bear Republic (Racer 15) and other of those wonderful herbal elixirs. But I got to sample some of their other really great beers like their Prohibition Ale (amber but nicely hopped naturally!), and a really nice rye based offering only available on tap.
When I dropped by there was a filming by a team from a UTube travel show, causing hilarity as the on-air talent put their heads in to fermenting tanks and posed here and their while beer swigging on-lookers gawked. After doing his bit explaining how brewing worked on camera, head brewer Kushal Hall talked to me about what he’s been up to.
Looking forward to the opening of the tap room and beer week, Kush told me he had made a special brew “inspired by the black and while cookie” – with vanilla and cocoa nibs. Being a brewer at Speakeasy was his first job, and after about 6 years he has “grown up with the brewery”… He said: “We are all young dudes here, we are investing and growing – it’s exciting to see what we can do…I want to challenge Lagunitas for the best IPA”. Their success came quickly and he recounted how they had expanded fast – and like other growing craft brewers they had to pull back some to concentrate on supporting the local market – but this time “they are doing it right”. They just entered the New Jersey market in January.
Kush says that he’s not worried about the local heavy saturation of breweries from the members of the “Guild” or other locals. “We think of it as ‘collab-itition’ – we call each others, ask questions, share ideas. There’s plenty of room for all of us to be successful”. He says that he has been helped by other leaders in the local beer scene – including a story of how he met Brain Hunt of “Moonlight” one evening after a particularly hard day at the brewery – and how Brian was commiserating on what a grind being a brewmaster can be. Brian then looked at Kush and said “but just look at what we get to do for a living – we are brewing beer!” – “that readjusted my perspective and got me going again” Kush related.
When doing your beerappreciation in San Francisco, try the Guild but be sure to meet the folks at Speakeasy and try their great beers, you won’t be disappointed.