SF’s cool Brewery-Pub taps its home-brewed beer from a torpedo.
Craft Beer fans, welcome to California! Nowhere else in the United States can you find more microbreweries than in the sunshine state, many of them located in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. They are well known and notorious for their unconventional beginnings and sometimes crazy ideas – such as adding pink grapefruit, peaches and/or pumpkin to their brews. Creative, great tasting and ideal for the almost continually sunny and warm weather and good-humored people who are open to new ideas in the land of limited impossibilities.
One of the best examples of this relaxed California way of life is the “Barrel Head Brewhouse” in San Francisco. Natasha Gatto, Brendan Card, Davin Affrunti and Ivan Hopkinson opened their brewery-pub in the Western Edition District (locals call it just “Nopa”, North of the Panhandle) in March 2014, and since then the pub is crowded almost every day!
People who don’t know where the trendy pub is will likely pass it by, they’ll be looking in vain for a sign. Only a small wooden barrel above the entrance against a pitch-black façade indicates that there’s something really good brewing up inside.
The 150 seats along the massive tables with their thick wood slabs made out of Monterey cypress are framed by four 350 gallon-stainless steel kettles. From the gallery above the bar you have a great view onto the workstations of brewmaster Kirk Hillyard, who brews a handful of beers every Monday with sometimes unusual ingredients and witty names: “America’s Next Hop Model Wet IPA” for instance (a stocky, 6,2 % Vol., golden-haired beauty made with first-class hop) or “Duffman Pilsner” (the relatively slight 5 vol.% in the glass tastes of grass and orange, thanks to the premium Hallertau hop from Germany) or “Pumpkin Peach IPA” (ingenious beer with refreshing 6.1 vol.% , brewed with pumpkin and fermented with peaches).
Behind the massive bar the current five in-house beers – plus 24 more, almost exclusively Californian Craft Beer specialties – are tapped from a real torpedo, which got stranded on Baker Beach south of the Golden Gate Bridge. “We’re getting people bombed the right way”, quips Ivan Hopkinson, and reveals in passing that they never brew a beer twice.
The home-brewed beers are on the menu for only a few weeks, per pint they cost between $6 and $8 ($10 for the “Flight du Jour”, five small tasting glasses), and are also sold in 6 pint bottles ideal for a beach picnic or a garden party for $21 plus a $10 charge for the bottle.
The food that chef Michael Kepatanakis prepares is as delicious and imaginative as the beers. Prepared using local ingredients and fresh herbs straight from the Bay Area he cooks, of course, with the homemade beer. His San Francisco comfort food is a creative mix of the best cuisines around the world and a feast for the eyes, the palate and the soul. The “Hog Island Sweetwater Oysters” ($18) are getting their surprisingly sharp kick from the pickled Mexican Serrano chilli, the True Cod Fish for “Fish and Chips” ($17) is cooked with a shot of “Nora Belle’s Oktoberfest Beer”, and the damn good “Pulled Pork Stuffed Naan” ($14) is served taco style cradled in an Indian naan flatbread with tzatziki (a tribute to Mike’s Greek roots), coriander, harissa and a dash of “Duffman Pilsner” finish the sauce.
Those who want to feast through almost the whole menu should definitely reserve a spot during the weekend and come for brunch (Sat noon-3pm, Sun 10am-3pm).
The Happy Hour, called “Hoppy Hour”, offers a $2 discount on all beers on tap,
all Brewtails, cocktails and wine (daily 4pm-6.30pm).
Barrel Head Brewhouse
1785 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
Mon & Tue 4pm to midnight
Wed-Fri 14pm to 2am
Sat noon to 2am
Sun 10am to midnight