Beer Tasting (credit: Thinkstock)
The vernal equinox (March 20) signals the arrival of softer winds, earlier sunrises, sprouting plants and perhaps best of all, a new batch of spring beers. Microbreweries throughout San Francisco traditionally begin releasing new beers around this time of year. In keeping with the spring theme, many of these beers have citrusy or floral tastes and represent a transition from the heavier brews of winter. Some of the spring beers are available now, and others will be gradually entering the market over late March and early April.
2443 Fillmore St., Suite 380-7797
San Francisco, CA 94115
Founded in 2010 by Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan, Almanac has quickly developed a reputation for crafting unique and unusual beers. They partner with different Northern California farms who supply the fruit used for their next brews. Almanac’s Golden Gate Gose spring release is brewed with sea salt, lemon verbena from a farm in Dixon and coriander harvested in Santa Cruz. The Gose is made with 50-65% malted wheat, and its refreshing crispness and tartness make this a nice accompaniment as you watch the sun set progressively later in the evening.
1195 Evans Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94124
Speakeasy’s slogan is “bringing great beer from the underground to the masses since 1997,” and this San Francisco microbrewery got their start producing small batches of beer in a secret warehouse and then delivering hand-filled kegs around the city from the back of a van. They opened their own tap room in 2011 and began producing out of a larger, new brewhouse last year. Their Double Daddy Imperial IPA will have Nelson and Mosaic hops this spring, giving it a pungent aroma with lots of fruit and pine notes. Speakeasy will also release their Payback Coffee Porter a day before the spring equinox, featuring a complex mix of deep earthy coffee notes and a dark bittersweet chocolate flavor.
Cellarmaker Brewing Company
1150 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Cellarmaker Brewing Company is a small and fairly new microbrewery addition to the San Francisco scene that was started by three former employees of the Marin Brewing Company. They produce small batches, one beer at a time, with a constant rotation of beers that feature the brewmakers’ fondness for experimentation and creative names like “Permanent Daylight” or “Imperial Coffee & Cigs.” On tap for spring is a blonde ale that promises to be light, fruity and dry. Cellarmaker will also be producing a new double IPA that will likely follow in the footsteps of its predecessor, “Dank Williams.”
21st Amendment Brewery
563 Second St.
San Francisco, CA 94107
Cleverly named after the 1933 constitutional law that repealed Prohibition, this South Park area brewery was founded 16 years ago by Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan. Their handcrafted beers have consistently won “best of” kudos for many years. One of their spring releases, Hell or High Watermelon, is a wheat beer which makes ample use of the popular summer fruit. The brewery will also soon be putting into limited release their Monk’s Blood, a Belgian brown ale with fig, cinnamon and vanilla.
Fort Point Beer Company
644 Old Mason St.
San Francisco, CA 94129
This brewery was founded in 2014 by two brothers, Tyler and Justin Catalana. They may have one of the more unusual brewing locations in the country, residing in a historic Presidio building that once served to house the Army’s motor pool. Their spring releases traditionally include a Kolsch-style ale and a hoppy wheat beer. But the one to look for this spring is Squirrel, a crisp Session IPA that is lighter than many pale ales, yet has a full, hoppy flavor with lots of lemon zest and pine notes.