It’s not a huge leap to go from making drugs to making beer.
But we’re not talking about home meth labs. Paul Duatschek, the brewmaster at Standard Deviant Brewing in the Mission, used to work in biotech making pharmaceuticals before he took his passion for science and reapplied it to home-brewing.
He went to work at Magnolia Brewing to get some professional experience and later teamed up with Mark DeVito —who owns, co-owns, or used to own several bars like Dr. Teeth in the Mission and Bullitt on Polk Street — plus a college buddy named Dave Azzam to start Standard Deviant Brewing on 14th Street in the Mission.
Open for two months now, Standard Deviant has quickly built a distribution network for its Sloe Jam Saison and Belgian IPA, DeVito says, worming its way into about 30 bars around town. For the most part, Standard Deviant’s offerings cover the basic categories without getting too fantastical or gimmicky. Of the eight or nine beers available on a recent Friday night, there was a Belgian blonde, a porter, a Kolsch, and an extra pale, all of them between 5.3 and 7.0 percent ABV. (They’re all solid representatives of their various categories, although the Altbier — a brown ale traditionally associated with Düsseldorf, Germany — was the deepest and most rounded.) At $3 for any eight-ounce pour, and $6 for 12 ounces, it’s easy to run through everything without becoming either highly inebriated or having to Venmo your friends.
The experiments are coming, though. As DeVito puts it, “We’re in the ‘standard’ half of our brewing right now. We’ll get to the ‘deviant’ half soon. We want to say, ‘Here are our beers, done classically.’ We’re going to put those out first, then add more.”
Duatschek takes his time, toying with new hops over and over until he works out all the kinks — sometimes going through as many as 50 test runs. Of the three owner-operators, he’s the only actual brewer for the time being, but that too will change.
“He’s going to start teaching us how to do stuff,” DeVito says. “We’ll be brewer’s assistants.”
A bourbon-aged porter ought to debut in the near future, followed by a blackberry sour porter and other brews that will differentiate them from other firms in San Francisco’s rapidly proliferating craft beer scene.
Although the beers on tap are mostly quite sessionable, they’re not above launching the occasional rocket to outer space.
“Last year, for Beer Week, we did an Imperial Kolsch,” DeVito says. “Traditionally, it’s a very light beer, but it was 13 percent [ABV], a trip that blasted people.”
Once they stretch their wings, they’ll add more tanks to increase capacity (and quite likely expand their hours, which are currently Thursday through Sunday). As it stands, beer from this three-man operation is already flowing through the taps at Gestalt, Flying Pig, Ocean Avenue Alehouse, Soda Popinski’s, the Armory Club, Jackalope, Dogpatch Saloon, and elsewhere.
As is becoming common practice with microbreweries around town, rotating food trucks — from Doc’s Classic to Sneaky’s BBQ —station themselves curbside. DeVito doesn’t think Standard Deviant will ever install its own kitchen, largely because it would crowd out room for more beer production. Apart from the wooden tables, there’s a Metallica pinball machine (plus a few others) and little else by way of decor, but the interior is mostly finished. In anticipation of its proper grand-opening party in November, DeVito says there’ll be “a couple more pinball machines, and I think we’ll be good to open.”
The name is a play on the mathematical term “standard deviation,” which relates to variations in a given set of data and typically puts people to sleep faster than a round of heavy day-drinking.
“If you spend any time with us,” DeVito says, “while we do take things somewhat seriously, we’re also a bunch of knuckleheads.”
Noting that a lot of their other choices were already taken, he adds, “And there was no trademark infringement on it.”
Anecdotally, at least, Standard Deviant has won something of a reputation outside the seven-by-seven bounds of this city. A husband-and-wife team of culinary sophisticates from Michigan in town for their daughter’s 21st birthday were more than happy to wile away a drizzly late afternoon before sauntering over to Valencia Street for Vietnamese food. But mostly, it was locals chilling out, probably glad that for once they didn’t have to hoof it to Dogpatch, the craft boom’s epicenter, for something new.
And for people decrying the evisceration of everything that made San Francisco a habitat for deviants in the first place, DeVito reports that his landlady turned down tech companies offering far more money to rent the space — which happens to be zoned for manufacturing, anyway.
“Not to badmouth anything,” he says, “but she really liked that we were trying to keep some soul alive.”