We Wanna Be Friends With: The Founders of 21st Amendment Brewery
Our city is chock-full of interesting people and wild personalities. Overwhelmed by the coolness? Every week we'll pick one standout local we'd love to be friends with to answer seven essential questions about their life in San Francisco.
When Nico Freccia and Shaun O'Sullivan were researching the history of San Francisco breweries – searching for a cool name for their new brewpub idea – they discovered that in 1900 there were more than 40 different small breweries operating within the 7x7 (now there are only 8). Nico and Shaun wanted to celebrate the reemerging beer culture as well as the spirit of the early 20th century, when breweries were neighborhood hot spots for people to gather, discuss, and enjoy craft beer, so they named their new bar, 21st Amendment Brewery after the law that made brewing legal once again.
The friendship that would produce 21st Amendment began in 1995 when both Shaun and Nico had just moved from Southern California. Shaun, a former photographer and paralegal, “traded his suits for boots." He moved to Berkeley and took a job as assistant brewer at Triple Rock Brewery. Nico, a writer, actor and, by extension, restaurant professional, was an avid homebrewer. Frustrated with the lack of beer culture in L.A., he moved to San Francisco and began writing for the Celebrator Beer News, the west’s largest beer publication. Freccia and O’Sullivan met and became friends while sitting together in a summer class on brewing science at UC Davis.
Almost 20 years later the South Park brewery has been voted “Best Brewpub,” “Best Burger,” and “Best Happy Hour” by the San Francisco press, and offers eight rotating taps of multiple award-winning, hand-crafted house beers as well as tasty pub grub.
A big thanks to Shaun and Nico for taking some time away from the brews to answer our We Wanna Be Friend With Q&A!
1. What neighborhood do you currently call home? Would you ever move or are you happy in your 'hood?
Nico: I lived in the upper Haight off the panhandle for almost ten years and loved it. Especially being able to walk across the street to watch the Bay to Breakers pageant at 8 am every year. Now we live in Walnut Creek and love it here too. But I still like to walk the old haunts on Haight Street.
Shaun: I live in North Berkeley up in the hills in a house I call the Treehouse. A quirky place and I love it up here, great views and some nature to round out city life.
2. What's your hands-down, absolute favorite thing to eat in SF?
Nico: Has to be oysters at Zuni.
Shaun: Sushi is at the top of the list. We have a saying at the 21st Amendment that we love our beer, but live on sushi.
3. What's your perfect night on the town?
Nico: Craft beer and food hopping among the city's amazing brewpubs and ending the night at Zeitgeist in the beer garden with a good cigar.
Shaun: Meeting up at a friend's brewery with others and hopping from good beer and cocktail bar…then there is always the impromptu drop-in at Anchor Brewery on Potrero Hill to see what are friends are up to at that iconic brewery, always ending up at Zeitgeist
4. When you need a low-key afternoon, where do you go for down time
Nico: I'd probably go hide out with an espresso in the back of Vesuvio Cafe.
Shaun: I grab my son and head to Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley for a "throwback college day adventure" where we grab pizza at Blonde's, hunt for old vinyl at Amoeba, donuts at Kingpin, sausage at Top Dog, a little geocache adventure along the way and end up at Yogurt Park. Perfect.
5. What's your favorite place to go on a day trip from the city?
Nico: Bodega Bay
Shaun: Tamales Bay up toward Marshall for oysters and beers at Hog Island Oyster Company. Their picnic area sits right on the bay, a great place for recharging and relaxing.
6. Quick-fire round
Burrito or Burger?
Shaun: 4505 Meats for their Best Damn Cheeseburger EVER!
Presidio or Golden Gate Park?
Nico: Golden Gate Park (I got married there)
Shaun: Golden Gate Park, so many places to get lost and found again.
BiRite or Mitchell's?
Shaun: BiRite. There needs to be a BiRIte in every neighborhood in the Bay Area.
Bike or MUNI?
Fort Mason or Dolores Park?
Nico: Dolores Park
Shaun: Dolores Park, a great place to hang with proximity to the Mission, Noe Valley and the Castro.
The Independent or the Fillmore?
Shaun: The Fillmore is iconic for its named acts, but the Independent surprises me all the time with great new music.
Baker Beach or Ocean Beach?
Shaun: Ocean Beach – great views and the Beach Chalet Brewery is right there.
7. Three words that describe your life in SF?
Nico: Beer, food, people
Shaun: Amazed, surprised, thankful.
Want more Shaun and Nico?