Monday, July 23, 2012


With so many new breweries opening and brewers brewing in the San Francisco Bay Area, I feel it's only my duty to get out there to do some tastings for you, and report back on my findings. This is how I found myself paying a visit to San Francisco's SOUTHERN PACIFIC BREWING, which opened up in the city's Mission District earlier this year. For those not familiar with The Mission, it's one of the two main "loci" for the much-maligned "hipster", along with Williamsburg in Brooklyn. It's where you'll find handlebar mustaches, brand-new but already "worn" t-shirts with Archie on them riding up to a guy's belly button, thousands of bikes, artisinal coffee, women with enormous sunglasses on and the perfect Zoe Deschanel bangs to go with big puffy hippie-girl dresses; and so on. These were the people who congregated upon Southern Pacific with me last Friday night, and for one night - and one night only - they were my people. Beer people.

Let's get the restaurant/space stuff out of the way. This place is kind of a scene, and the conversation volume hurt my 44-year-old eardrums at times - even though we were seated on the patio and not inside the cavernous ex-warehouse space that holds the restaurant and bar. It's in a semi-industrial area of the neighborhood that's gentrifying in a hurry. I didn't have any of their food, so I can't speak to it, but let's be clear and state for the record that this is not a "craft beer bar" as commonly understood. It's a place for large groups to gather, drink and make merry - not for dorks like me to delve into the navel-gazing associated with beer geekery. We've got plenty of places in town for that sort of chicanery already. 

The main reason this is probably not a main stop on your (to say nothing of my ) craft beer itinerary? Because the beer totally rots. I'll be honest, I haven't been this surprised with a lack of quality control since my last visit to the B.J. McGuillicuddy's All-American Brewery & Darts Hall chain of bars. The SOUTHERN PACIFIC PALE ALE, pictured here so you know what to stay away from, tastes like liquid aspirin and was, to my way of thinking, totally gross. When one of my compadres asked what I thought of it, and I spoke honestly and forthrightly about my disdain for it, a heretofore-unknown gentleman to my right immediately nodded his assent and proffered the opinion that "their pale ale tastes like ass". So that makes two of us. 2/10. 

I'd hoped that Southern Pacific might make amends with their HEFEWEIZEN, and while this sweet, cloying, weak wheat beer was more than twice the beer its pale ale counterpart was, it was still something I hope to never encounter again. 5/10. Now, I don't know where you come down on this one, but in my book if you can't make a drinkable pale ale and a modest hefeweizen, then I'm going to assume that you're probably not knocking it out of the park on any experimental or barrel-aged creations either. Or maybe it's all about the location, the foot traffic, and bringing in sweet piles of hipster lucre. Either way, I'll be surveying other folks about their experiences here to see if I'm the outlier, or if I'm the canary in the coalmine. Perhaps I was in a bad mood (I wasn't), or someone spiked my drinks (maybe a Mission hipster girl slipped some roofies into my beers!!). For the time being I'll stay clear of this particular place, and maybe resolve not to go outside of the house for my beer experiences ever again. My beer fridge at home has so many potential knockouts, and I believe they're calling me as we speak.

1 comment:

Mark said...

My only association with Hipsters and Beer is that of PBR, so I can't say as though I'm all that surprised. On the other hand, I've found that most brewpubs, even good ones, have pretty lackluster standard offerings. But the good ones will usually have something interesting and big and pretty good on tap too. Iron Hill is a popular chain around here, and I was never all that impressed until they started cranking out specialty stuff, to the point where their special releases outnumber their base lineup...