San Francisco Stars #10 San Francisco (SF) Broadway IPA
Date: July 8, 2019 —
The Story— The San Francisco Brewing Company was one of the Bay area’s early attempts at craft brewing, and breweries using the name stretch back to the 19th century. By the time we got to it in 1991 it was a true 20th century craft brewery — theoretically the 4th oldest in the US. In truth, though, we weren’t very impressed with the beers then nor on a subsequent visit in 2007. The brewery closed in 2009 ostensibly for “financial reasons.” We’re not surprised that a brewery selling sub-par beer in the 21st century had “financial reasons” to deal with. The building — one of the oldest bars in the state– has since been reborn as the Comstock Saloon.
In 2012 Josh Leavy acquired rights to the name and began contract brewing, selling his beers on the patio of Ghiradelli Square. He’s since acquired a large space inside the building and brews beers on site. It’s a short walk from the water, and there’s also a bus stop a few steps away. It’s a big spacious place to drink and features a variety of games and a self-serve tap system that allows you to taste– or drink– in whatever quantities you want.
The beers are a huge improvement over the previous incarnation with especially good big hoppy IPAs. And why not? This is the West Coast.
The Beer– It’s a full bodied chewy chalky IPA with plenty of citrus and pine and, eventually, a nice touch of the flowers they include in their description. There’s a good hop-malt balance, though a bit of a sugary residue does remain in the aftertaste. It’s the kind of beer you’d hope to find on a trip to the epicenter of the craft beer revolution.
Value — Good. $8 for a pint is pretty much standard for this town that sometimes still feels like it’s caught up in some kind of gold rush.
Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.
We just got back from a week in San Francisco. We hadn’t been there in eleven years and the remarkably vibrant beer scene we experienced then has become, well, even vibranter. Ellie, poor girl, had to work long hours during the day while I got to roam the streets checking out the best places to find great beers. At least when Ellie got off work I had places to take her before she crashed for the night. We’ll post a week or two of Beers of the Day by the Bay before returning to research for our book on Inns and Breweries of the Mid-Atlantic.
Interestingly, the downtown area of San Francisco, while awash with beers from the surrounding areas, has few brewing spots of its own. In that regard it reminds us of New York, where you have to leave Manhattan and go to Brooklyn to really find a nest of breweries. Away from downtown, several brewery taps thrive and public transportation gets you almost anywhere. Beyond the city limits, of breweries ring the city, and many of them produce exceptionally good beers and the myriad of tap houses all over town tend to focus on local beers. Name the style you like and you can find an excellent version of it, though at a price.
We’re often asked to share our tasting notes on over 33,000 beers; this blog is in answer to those requests. Not all our notes, though. The great beer writer Michael Jackson admirably followed the Thumper Rule, and we’ll try to do the same. (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”) All the beers we post are from the top half of our ratings and most are from the top quarter. Of greater value, we think, are the stories behind the beers, and we try to give you enough about the brewery, the style and the places to find great beer to help you on your own beer journeys. At CulturAle Press we try to write books and publish posts that will help you “Drink Well and Travel Safely.”