When a ship goes out to sea for the first time, tradition dictates smashing a bottle of champagne against the hull. So, how does one christen a new brewery? Do you hurl a growler against a fermentation tank? Thankfully not, as we think that would be a waste of good beer. The correct answer, and the path that local brewery Magnolia has taken, is to brew up a brand new creation.
While Magnolia has long been a fixture of the S.F. brewing world, it's only recently that they've endeavored to expand their brewing capacity (although sister restaurant Alembic has gone a long way in supporting our spirit and cocktail scene). While Magnolia's sister restaurant Smokestack, a BBQ-driven Dogpatch spot helmed by Chef Dennis Lee of Namu fame, isn't quite ready for primetime, the brewery behind the restaurant space is up and running. If batch #1 is any indication, the first brew day was pretty smooth sailing.
Magnolia's Maiden Voyage exemplifies what brewer Dave McLean does best -- traditional English styles with a California flair. This English Special Bitter is reminiscent of the first beer ever brewed at Magnolia sixteen years ago, another bitter called Blue Bell. The beer is golden in color, and slightly hoppier than you'd expect from the style. Goldings and Fuggles hops offer an earthy aroma and slight bitterness against an inviting, biscuity sweetness from Branthill Farm Maris Otter malt. At 4.5 percent, this quaffable session beer goes down easy but has enough character to leave you wanting a second (or third?) pint.
Look for Magnolia's Maiden Voyage brew on tap at its flagship location at Haight and Masonic. Magnolia brews will also be featured at Toronado on Wednesday night (Dec. 11).