If you ask most San Francisco beer hounds what the best in-city brewery is, you’re almost always going to get one of two answers: 21ST AMENDMENT or MAGNOLIA PUB & BREWERY. While I personally lean toward the former, I’ve been long overdue for a new date with the latter. (Other in-town breweries include the legendary Anchor Brewing; Speakeasy; Beach Chalet; Thirsty Bear and San Francisco Brewing Company). MAGNOLIA PUB & BREWERY is nestled right there on Haight Street & Masonic, a busy corner with tons of foot traffic from thirsty pilgrims. They’ve done well for themselves this past decade, and the solid beer lineup is a big reason for it.
The other night I got to be “interviewed” for a piece Brian Yaeger, author of “Red White and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey”, is writing in ALL ABOUT BEER, and given that MAGNOLIA’s about halfway between his abode and mine, we agreed that’d be a fine place for a discussion. As it turned out, even though I hadn’t been to Magnolia in over a year, there were only a couple of things on the menu I’d never tried. They actually had a gruit on tap, which was certainly intriguing, but in the end I went for style that would allow me ample room for pontification, rather than contemplation:
IN WITH THE NEW IPA – Good to see a new IPA from these folks, especially one this tasty. This is very smooth, “delicately”-hopped IPA, almost the inverse of the Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale we talked about a couple of days ago (i.e. today’s pale ale is yesterday’s IPA). Magnolia decided to go all the way back to 2006 for this “throwback” IPA. Really good. 7.5/10.
PRESCRIPTION PALE ALE – This has been part of their lineup as long as I can remember, but I’m not sure I’ve ever tried it – certainly not since I started “rating” my beers, cough cough. Pretty nondescript and still. I actually thought it might have come from the cask, but there was faint carbonation there. Low hops, some juicy citrus in the aftertaste, and that’s about it. 6/10.
Never did get to that gruit or to the two porters they had on draft. Don’t worry, I’ll almost certainly be back next year. (PS - thanks to Bittermelon for the great photo).