Tag Archives: beer

Home Remedy

Cole Emde, the master brewer at Black Sands Brewery on Haight Street in San Francisco, pours himself a pale ale that he brewed and is sold in their brew pub on Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. (Ryan McNulty/Xpress)

By Steven Calderon

[dropcap size=”50px”]C[/dropcap]lad in denim jeans and calf-high rubber boots, two men stood over stainless steel vats of boiling water and quickly built up a sweat that bled through their thin t-shirts. A potent aroma rose from barrels of grain that smelled like crushed saltine crackers and boxed cream of wheat. They wore backward hats and paper masks to cover their mouths.

“It’s to prevent from inhaling grain dust,” said Cole Emde, master brewer at Haight’s Black Sands Brewery. “Inhaling grain dust all day every day is not a good thing.”

Emde and home brewer Alex Magill were making a batch of Imperial Pale Lager from Magill’s own recipe at the brewery.

During the mashing process, Magill, 26, stood on a short step ladder and stirred while Emde used a plastic ice scoop to drizzle grains into the vat. He did not pour it straight out of the scooper but instead, to prevent clumping, sprinkled the grains out of the side, much like how a baker might powder fresh doughnuts.

Emde and Magill are part of a subculture of homebrewers in San Francisco, many of which started brewing beer in college, some in high school and others who picked up the hobby when they moved to the city.

Magill got his start in college about three years ago when a friend invited him over to help brew a batch.

“It started as me going over to help out a friend,” Magill said. “And it quickly turned into me just getting drunk and having a good time.”

Magill quickly immersed himself in beer culture and soon came across Black Sands, a one stop shop for brewing equipment, ingredients, recipes and lessons. Magill said his most recent batch will be served at the brewery and he is looking forward to seeing what both fellow homebrewers and non-brewers think of his beer.

While Black Sands is a meeting place and learning environment for aspiring brewers, many other beer fanatics attempt to brew independently in their own backyards.

Upon moving to San Francisco in 2008, Chris Cohen was introduced to the craft and became hooked on making his own beer. He realized there were no beer brewing clubs in the city so he decided to create his own.

“I really wanted to meet more people and talk about it with other people and learn from each other,” Cohen said.

That was the beginning of the San Francisco Homebrewers Guild, which now boasts about 170 due paying members according to their website, one of which is Black Sands. Cohen said homebrewers in San Francisco are as diverse as the city itself.

“In a SF spirit I wanted the club to be open to everybody, not just the white man stereotype,” Cohen said.

Cohen acts as a judge during his club’s beer tasting competitions and this year SFHG will be hosting a statewide competition in late October.

“There’s a real artistry to beer design,” Cohen said. “And you know what, shit, it’s a really fun thing to do with your friends. Just invite your friends over and have everyone brew their own beer.”

Not all brewers are as inclusive, however. Shaun Chan, a biochemistry major at San Francisco State University, said that while having an extra hand is helpful when brewing, he avoids inviting a lot of people over so he can make sure his equipment and work space is clean. He said that sanitation is one of the biggest challenges when brewing.

Chan is from Humboldt County and has been brewing with his friends since high school. He said that part of the reason why he brews his own beer is simply because he enjoys drinking beer and can’t afford to buy it all of the time. Making himself a batch saves him money and a few trips to the store. He is a fan of Indian Pale Ales and his favorite recipe is an all-grain pale ale brew which requires plenty of fresh hops to mimic an IPA taste.

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Grain used in the brewing process at Black Sands Brewery on Monday, Sept. 7. ( Ryan McNulty / Xpress )

While Chan started brewing to have beer on demand and Magill was introduced to it through a friend, some brewers picked up the hobby through pure curiosity.

Ivan Real, 23, works for Keysight Technologies in Santa Clara as a manufacturing engineer and lives in San Francisco’s Mission District. He takes Caltrain to work, and as a result finds less time for brewing than he did when he started a year ago.

“I started brewing beer my senior year in college with my roommate,” Real said. “We got into it because of curiosity. We both loved drinking beer so we thought we might as well learn the brewing process and understand what exactly went into this bubbly intoxicating substance.”

Real brews about five gallons at a time and said he prefers to make ale because it is more “forgiving” and tastes better to him. He said because ales can be fermented at room temperature, it is easier for him logistically since he can let the batch sit and brew anywhere in his home, as opposed to buying and squeezing an extra fridge into his small apartment.

Real said he enjoys the camaraderie that comes with making beer in San Francisco. Cohen’s brew club, Emde’s brewery and homebrewers like Chan bring the community together to keep beer culture alive in San Francisco.

“Brewing is a great way to get people with a common interest together,” Real said. “Ideally if others brew, everyone can bring their newest batches of beer to share and trade with others while we drink and talk.”

A look into beer making with Method Brewing

Paul Tiplady, one out of four guys in Method Brewing, keeps an eye on the water pump and plate chiller as they transfer and cool the beer into buckets right before adding the yeast as they were making a few batches of beer in San Francisco Sunday, Feb. 22. Photos by Daniel Porter

By day, they are scientists—immersed in labs, handling cells, and manipulating sterile cultures… But when the weekend rolls around, they are debugging data on the science of brewing.

Ryan Dalton and Kenton Hokanson, graduate students of the University of California San Francisco’s neuroscience program, began homebrewing together shortly after becoming roommates.

“Essentially everyone in the life sciences seems to brew their own beer. This is like the only skill you pick up as a biologist, other than doing biology,” Dalton says.

Dalton and Hokanson began attending other people’s brew sessions and picked up on the process of beer making. Soon after, they met Paul Tiplady, a software engineer, and Robert Schiemann, a software developer, through mutual friends, and bonded immediately.

The Method Brewing team was formed from pure experimentation and have been homebrewing obsessively for the past three years. Their expansive drink list includes hundreds of unorthodox flavors not typically seen in the realm of craft brewing, including: jalapeño, coconut, mole, and yogurt.

“It used to be an afternoon social occasion,” remembers Tiplady.

Kenton Hokanson and Robert Schiemann, two out of the four guys in Method Brewing, pours in the yeast for the jalapeno IPA they just finished brewing in San Francisco Sunday, Feb. 22.
Kenton Hokanson and Robert Schiemann, two out of the four guys in Method Brewing, pours in the yeast for the jalapeno IPA they just finished brewing in San Francisco Sunday, Feb. 22.

They would get together, brew bubbly concoctions, and make a mess of the house. Shortly thereafter, they began throwing around unconventional ideas for flavor combinations, eventually brewing them all.

“We brew every recipe that we can think of to see what works and we’re not really afraid of making a bad beer–just dump it if we don’t like it,” shares Hokanson.

On Feb.11, their innovative beers made their first appearance at San Francisco’s Beer Week. Their event, BrewFlood VII, drew favorable responses from the beer community and local entrepreneurs.

Their beer recipes are created with just about anything you’ve ever had in your fridge. The idea of creating their signature Jalapeño Imperial India Pale Ale (JIIPA) came about simply; they all liked jalapeño and they all liked beer.

The five-hour process to create a 10-gallon batch begins with a culture of yeast bubbling in a flask on top of a hot plate.

Kenton Hokanson, one of the four guys apart of Method Brewing, grinds up barley for the base of the beer in San Francisco Sunday, Feb. 22.
Kenton Hokanson, one of the four guys apart of Method Brewing, grinds up barley for the base of the beer in San Francisco Sunday, Feb. 22.

Outdoors, in the shady backyard patio, Hokanson begins to mill the grain, crushing it, just enough to expose riveted sugar pellets. Behind him, fire raises the temperature of 15 gallons of water to 185 degrees. The scalding hot liquid is poured into the accumulation of grains, and as it settles, begins to bubble ferociously. The batch begins to look like a witch’s brew as Schiemann stirs it with a large wooden paddle.

The simple name of the JIIPA, sitting in one of the 23 kegs made for SF Beer Week, is enough to send beer expert Jared Funkhouser running for the hills.

“I’m a sucker for spice,” he exclaims as he picks up the imperial IPA loaded with fresh jalapeños and house made jalapeño tincture.

First, he takes a whiff. “The first thing I smell is the initial bite of the jalapeño,” he says, nervously.

Then, he takes a sip. “It’s amazing,” Funkhouser blurts out, along with a shocked expression. There is just enough spice, without being daunting. It’s nice and smooth with a settle floral note to balance out the flavors, he says.

Paul Tiplady, one out of four guys in Method Brewing, slices and takes out the seeds of jalapeno's for their jalapeno IPA they are brewing in San Francisco Sunday, Feb. 22.
Paul Tiplady, one out of four guys in Method Brewing, slices and takes out the seeds of jalapeno’s for their jalapeno IPA they are brewing in San Francisco Sunday, Feb. 22.

Two unseeded jalapeños go into each gallon of beer; today’s batch has 20 total. Tiplady remembers when they first began using jalapeño in their beer and when he used his fingers, as opposed to a spoon, to un-seed.

“It was a searing pain that lasted for days on the inside of my fingernails,” he recalls.

The beer’s spice is regulated by creating a tincture made by soaking jalapeño seeds in Everclear, a grain alcohol. This method results in a concentrated neon green liquid that is Scoville tested, a systematic spice measurer.

“We don’t try to make a pepper beer that everyone likes, we try to make a pepper beer that some people won’t like but the people who like peppers will love and kill for,” tells Hokanson.

On a recent Monday, they sit on the roof of 326 1st Street, a rundown building in between the SOMA district’s skyscrapers, and the future site of their brewery, Methodology.

The brewery, set to open after a full-blown demolition and remodel, will have a ground level bar, modeled after an industrial laboratory with their beers on tap and a rooftop beer garden that will alternatively serve as a relaxed, warm setting.

Historically, San Francisco has been underserved in terms of bars per capita compared to beer meccas like Portland, according to Tiplady. In 2014, nineteen new breweries opened up in San Francisco, and nine are currently in planning, according to San Francisco Brewers Guild. Tiplady predicts that in the next five years, local brewpubs will grow exponentially, as well as provide the freshest of beers.

“There are a lot of breweries that are doing classic styles, and a lot of people like that kind of beer. But we are trying to push out and do very experimental, very weird stuff and that’s kind of a niche but there’s no one doing that in San Francisco,” says Tiplady.

Kenton Hokanson and Rober Schiemann, two out of the four guys in Method Brewing, pour out some water that is up to temperature to mix with the ground barley to make the mash for the beer in San Francisco Sunday, Feb. 22.
Kenton Hokanson and Rober Schiemann, two out of the four guys in Method Brewing, pour out some water that is up to temperature to mix with the ground barley to make the mash for the beer in San Francisco Sunday, Feb. 22.

 

The taste of Method Brewing: Beer Expert Review

One of the Method Brewing guys hands a beer to a customer during the SF Beer Week event Wednesday, Feb. 11. Photos by Daniel Porter

Jared Funkhouser has been brewing beer and working in the industry for the past 10 years. He is currently enrolled in SF State’s graduate school problem working on a master’s in sustainability. Merging both his love of beer and sustainability, Funkhouser recently developed a beer education program for sustainable brewing that he has begun to introduce to bars in the area. In recent years, he has noticed an exponential growth in the beer industry and bay area restaurants, as they have started paying closer attention to their craft beer selection.

Funkhouser formally reviewed Method Brewing’s beers on February 11. Method Brewing offers a unique and innovative science-driven approach to beer making. You can read more about Method Brewing in Xpress Magazine’s Spring 2015, Issue 1.

The crowd starts small at the beginning of the night during the Method Brewing SF Beer Week event Wednesday, Feb. 11.
The crowd starts small at the beginning of the night during the Method Brewing SF Beer Week event Wednesday, Feb. 11.

Here are some of Funkhouser’s thoughts on the beer choices of the night.

IRA 6.8% ABV

A hoppy, West Coast style india red ale

Funkhouser holds up his beer glass to eye-level. Through his spectacles, he observes the bubbling clear liquid in his hand and determines it’s filtered. The red ale gives off an aroma of pine and flowers. “You can smell the sugars, maybe toffee and caramel,” he says in between sips. “I would buy a six pack of this and take it home,” he notes enthusiastically.

Best paired with? Red meat and Irish pub food.

Tiniest Green Wolf 3.6% ABV

A seasonable micro-IPA that is low in alcohol but packed with hops and flavor

“I can see myself drinking this in the sun all summer long while mowing the lawn,” Funkhouser says as he sips on the easy to drink micro-IPA. The low alcohol content and light body makes for a refreshing beer that showcases the hops and malty flavors. “There’s a bit of a danky smell, a little marijuana smell,” he mentions as he explains that hops are cousins of marijuana without containing any THC.

Best to drink? In between greasy foods to clear palate.

Paul Tiplady, one out of four guys in Method Brewing, hands a guest of the SF Beer Week they put together Wednesday, Feb. 11.
Paul Tiplady, one out of four guys in Method Brewing, hands a guest of the SF Beer Week they put together Wednesday, Feb. 11.

Noyaux Nut Brown Ale 5.2% ABV

Got a bit of a sweet tooth? This light body beer tastes of marzipan and cherries, making the beer itself a decadent dessert, according to Funkhouser. As the beer warms up to cellar temperature, the marzipan decreases and the taste of cherry and almond increases.

Best paired with? Dark chocolate cake.

Toasted Coconut Guayusa Brown Ale 5% ABV

An earthy brown ale made with toasted coconut chips and gunpowder guayusa. 

He inhales. “I can smell toasted coconut all day,” he says. This ale is not too sweet and has a toasty milk chocolate and caramel well-balanced flavor, he adds. He goes on to explain that the guavas plant is native of the amazon and is typically brewed like tea. This adds an earthiness to the flavor that is reminiscent of a musty forest. “This is s stand out to me thus far,” he says as he continues with the beer tasting.

Big Boy Imperial Porter 12% ABV

A dangerously drinkable imperial poter. Over a year old and clocking in at 12% ABV.

Funkhouser recommends drinking beer flights from lightest to darkest. He suggests to end with the most complex, which will in turn, leaves you to most satisfied. That’s exactly what he did by leaving the Big Boy to the end. The beer is slowly sipped, slower than the rest of the beers. Having the same alcohol content as wine, this beer is treated with a bit more care. It tastes of molasses and black licorice, he shares.

Best paired with? Stinky, funky bleu cheese. Chocolate Cake.

Final thoughts? “Beer is supposed to be fun, and I can tell these guys are having a lot of fun,” concludes Funkhouser.

Tom McBride takes a look at the list of beers during a SF Beer Week event put on by Method Brewing in San Francisco Wednesday, Feb. 11.
Tom McBride takes a look at the list of beers during a SF Beer Week event put on by Method Brewing in San Francisco Wednesday, Feb. 11.

Against the Grain

Speakeasy Ales and Lagers Brewery, located at 1195 Evans Avenue in the Bayview District. Apr. 6. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
Speakeasy Ales and Lagers Brewery, located at 1195 Evans Avenue in the Bayview District. Apr. 6. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress

Written by Katie Mullen
Photo by Tony Santos

It’s a beautiful Saturday in San Francisco. The sun has come out to play and so have you. You and a group of friends decide that the only thing to compliment the beautiful day at hand is a well-crafted beer. You guys are in luck, you live in a city dotted with some of the finest micro-breweries out there.
Beer has quickly gained popularity in the past seven to ten. More people are learning about it, attempting to make it, and simply drinking more of it. Home brewing was not made legal in the United States until 1978. This is not to say that home brewed beers were a pigment of the imagination though, they were just a well-kept secret.
Now, it seems that every other person you talk to will tell you how they are attempting to brew at home or that on of their friends are. It use to be taboo for girls to drink beer, it was a drink for manly men. It was the alcohol of football games and arm wrestling tournaments, and besides it had too many calories for girls to drink it, right? Well not anymore.
Beer has become a coveted and respected drink. Its no longer just the drink of beer pong and beer bongs. It is a hand-crafted alcohol that people smell before tasting to get a whiff of the hops in it, they sip it and attempt to decipher hints of coffee or hazelnut, perhaps there is a hint of fruitiness or citrus.
Perhaps the most trending type of beer is the infamous IPA, short for India pale ale. You may have head people say, “oh, its so hoppy, I love it!” and may of you may have shook your head agreeing but really had no idea what on earth they were referring to. Well let me break it down for you. Hops are one of the few main ingredients found in all beers. It is simply the flower of a hop plant, which is part of the hemp family. It gives off a bitter taste, which is what many IPA lovers search for. Shockingly, there are over three hundred different types of hops grown anywhere from Germany to California and Washington.
Hops were originally used to balance the beer. Grains that are used in beers are extremely sweet and sugary. So, by adding hops and bitterness, brewers were able to create more of a balanced flavor that was less overwhelming for the drinker. The IPA took that a step further to overpower a beer with the hops.
Here is some information about IPAs to impress your friends with. India pale ales came into existence around the 18th century. A man named George Hodgson would ship beer, his pale ales, from England into India. Because the voyage was long and hops acts as a natural preservative, he would add extra hops in order to help the beer stay fresh. The taste because increasingly demanded and born from the pale ale came India pale ale we know and love today.
Currently, the West Coast IPA has become a new way to brew using the process of dry hopping. Which in short gives you the aroma and flavor of the different hops creating different tastes in beer. This is why no two IPAs will taste the same. And our recommendation would be to try them all!
San Francisco is proud to be the home of Anchor Steam Brewery but it is also home to many other amazing breweries that have somehow remained under the radar for many years. With beer now coming into the social scene, they are gaining popularity and foot traffic but they are still considered local gems.
Some of these breweries are Cellarmaker Brewing Company of Howard St., ThirstyBear Brewing company in the Financial District, and a Giants fan’s home away from home: 21st Amendment. But at the top of the local beer guru’s list would have to be Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, Triple VooDoo Brewery, and Southern Pacific Brewing.
Speakeasy is a locally brewed and mostly locally sold beer. It specialized in Ales and Lagers. Ale beers are brewed from malted barley and yeast. It is fermented very fast, which gives it a fuller taste and is often times fruity. These also contain hops to balance the malt. Lagers ferment much more slowly than ales. They are brewed with bottom fermenting yeast then are stored at cool temperatures to mature their taste. The hops are much easier to taste in a lager than in an ale.
Speakeasy is a fun place to spend a day. Sampling beers and talking to the servers and bartenders that could talk to you for days about the beers they currently have and beers they use to carry. “I love going to Speakeasy not only because I love their beer but because I always seem to learn something about beer whether it be about how it is made, how it is processed, or what is in it,” says Michael Herndon, a previous SF State student now living in the city. If you are interested in the process of how ales and lagers are brewed, the tour would be the place for you to go. But, take a pen and a notepad because brewing is a long and complicated process. Luck for us, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers has it down to a science, literally.
Next on the list would be Triple Voodoo Brewery and Tap Room. If the name alone isn’t enough to draw you in there, you are in luck because I have more information for you. Berkley student and beer enthusiast, Derek Campbell says, “Every time I come into the city, I make it a priority to come into Voodoo. I hate to be corny but I really do think they cast a spell on me or put a potion in their brews or something.”
What is cool about Triple Voodoo is that you can have food from local restaurants delivered to you as you are sitting and enjoying a nice, cold, well-crafted beer. The brewery has sixteen beers on tap that rotate, meaning that they are not all available year round. This is kind of fun because if you are use to drinking a beer but it is not on tap when you go in, you are forced to step outside the box.
And finally, probably the least known and talked about brewery would be Southern Pacific Brewery. This brewery is awesome because it is not what you are expecting when you see the building. It also has some tasty food to compliment the beers they have on tap. One woman’s favorite is the Porter, it is on tap and when that tap runs out, it is gone for a while. “I literally cried one time when I came in here and the Porter tap was gone,” says Raimi Mitchell-Young who lives in the city. “The thought of it was the only thing that got me through my day, it is the best beer I have yet to find in the city, and it was gone!” She also went on to say that the black bean burger and sage fries are to die for.
These breweries only scratch the surface of what San Francisco has to offer the beer obsessed individuals. But to get into it would take hours to read through. The best advice is to start at a microbrewery, spark up a conversation with a bartender or fellow beer drinker, and ask them what other breweries they enjoy. Then the fun part comes, go explore them! There are so many beers out there that it can be daunting, but the more you try, the more you will know and the more you can narrow the search for your personal perfect beer. Beware of the sours though, rumor has it that they grow on you if you can drink a full glass in one sitting, emphasis on the “if”… Now go forth and taste!