Going on a brewery tour is a bit like slipping backstage at your favorite band’s concert. It gives you a chance to see a rock star at their craft and get a first-hand feel of the passion they have for their art. Since San Francisco is at the epicenter of modern craft brewing, we have ready access to both established and new breweries. Much like touring wineries, you can book a package though an agency, put together your own group, or join another.
Despite San Francisco’s well-earned reputation for cool and foggy summer weather, we also enjoy warm and clear days that are perfect for picnics. Beer is the ideal beverage choice for many picnic foods since the same cooking process that gives malt its caramel flavor also gives meats and vegetables theirs.
Barley may be the ultimate beer-brewing cereal grain, but wheat is commonly included when making summer beers to provide a crisp acidity and a lighter mouth feel. And while traditional, low-hop, summer beer styles (such as Hefeweizen and Witbier) include wheat, innovative West Coast brewers enjoy creating variations on that classic theme. With the days getting longer and warmer, we checked in with a few local craft brewers to check out this season’s cool and refreshing wheaties.
If it seems like there’s a new neighborhood taproom, brewpub, or tasting room opening every month or two, you’ve been paying attention. And with Smokestack – Magnolia’s long awaited restaurant and bar – opening in Dogpatch soon, this seems like an opportune time to catch our collective breath and provide an update on a few of the craft beer places that have opened in the last year or so.
Seasonal beers give craft brewers a good excuse to stretch their legs and create something different from their flagship brews. And while there are a few established spring beer styles, – like maibock, a type of strong German lager, or bière de mars, a light Belgian-style ale – many brewers just use this time of year as an excuse to play with medium and light bodied styles.
After several years in the making Barrel Head Brewhouse recently opened its doors at 1785 Fulton at Masonic. The spacious 150-seat brewpub has an steel and concrete industrial feel balanced by booths built from refurbished wood, a massive wood slab bar and other slab table tops scattered on the main floor bar and mezzanine. The focal point behind the bar is a torpedo where 30 taps pour out the brews. Barrel Head’s 15-barrel brewing system lines the facing wall.
While beer and basketball go together like, well like beer and baseball, there’s often a tradeoff between watching games in a sports bar, which can have a lot of TVs but few craft beers, and going to a brewpub or a serious beer bar which can have a great selection of brews but limited or no access to TVs. To help you plan out where to drink in the March Madness, here’s our list of places to watch the NCAA games and enjoy great beer:
Most beer is never better than the day it leaves the brewery, but certain beers, properly kept, improve with age. As we shift away from the strong, dark beers of winter to spring’s lighter fare, it’s time to make one last run to the beer store and stock up on a few select heavies to store away for the future.
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