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Cellarmaker Brewing (San Francsico)

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New brewery that opened about a month ago in SOMA on Howard between 7th and 8th. I learned from a server that the brewer was a former assistant brewer at Marin.

At long last, some properly made San Diego style beers are available here. I didn't realize how much I'd missed them.

According to their website they'll be releasing a number of barrel-aged beers over time, but for now the offerings have been mostly pretty standard stuff, with the exception of two really nice Berliner weisse-style sours and a somewhat similar Belgian style I'd not heard of before called grisette.

All the beers I've sampled there have ranged from good to excellent.

If you're in the SF area I recommend heading down there to sample. Current favorite for me right now is a pale ale called Questionable Origins that is made with fresh hops. The Dobis Pale Ale and the IPA are also really good. They all have the lighter bodied, floral hop character typically seen in a lot of San Diego IPAs.

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  1. So "San Diego style" is defined by the classic floral hops that southern california is well known for? Ive often wondered exactly what this term is in reference to. For an east coaster like me it seems like theres a lot of bleed of those types of beers all up the coast. But perhaps its just my focus on "west coast hops" when Im in California or the Cascade region.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Insidious Rex

      I agree with that assessment. San Diego doesn't own the flowery hop character. It seems to be a kind of made-up appellation, like Cascadian Dark Ale. I always get a chuckle out of that one. :-)

      Actually, I wouldn't even consider the floral, hoppy character to be an especially 'west coast' thing anymore.

      1. re: The Professor

        It's an easy thing to say when you haven't lived in SD. The best beers made there don't see any distribution outside of the city. The only IPA I've seen outside of SD that's kind of in this vein is Ballast Point's Sculpin, and that's only recently become widely available.

        Try some of the IPAs from Alpine or Societe and you'll see what I mean.

        A good friend of mine just moved to Philly from SD and he's had very little luck in finding beers like this. I only moved up the coast to SF and I've had the same experience.

        What I'd describe as the SD style is: light bodied, often using some kind of adjunct to reduce the malt profile; heavy aroma hops; reduced bittering hops.

        Beers from outside of SD I've had that are described as hoppy usually have a much heavier malt profile, and more bittering hops.

        I think this is why when I read about people decrying hoppy beers as an easy way to hide bad beer I have no idea what they're talking about. A crisp, clean, heavily floral beer like Alpine's Nelson or Duet is an amazing thing to experience, and evidently a very difficult thing to make.

        1. re: Josh

          Well you're right...I haven't lived in SD, though in my sho-bizzz travels I've been there quite a bit.
          Next time I'm out there I'll look into your suggestions and do some more exploring.
          As a longtime brewer (42 years + counting) I'll definitely grant you that getting a heavily floral hop profile while reining in bitterness _can_ be a tricky balancing act.
          I'd welcome any other suggestions as to SD "must tries" asI expect to be on the left coast in February.
          I'm open to convincing!

          1. re: The Professor

            Definitely go to Societe brewing and try Publican or Apprentice. Alpine Duet and Nelson, if you can find them. Pizza Port in OB will likely also have some in this vein on tap.