With the official release of its first batch of craft beer last month, brewed in the heart of Union Square, Bartlett Hall (242 O’Farrell St.) became the 20th member of the ever-expanding SF Brewers Guild. I made my way to the cavernous confines of San Francisco’s newest brewpub to sample the suds that brewmaster Christopher Wike has unloaded from his shiny, seven barrel system.
[jump] Each of the three debut offerings boasts a clever moniker, such as the Hoppy Scottsman. The Scotch style ale is characterized by a slightly caramelized malt foundation, with a copper-hued body. What makes this beer unique for its varietal is a smack of bitter, North Pacific Hops in the nose and upon first sip.
In the Barrel is a refreshing lager brewed in the style of a West Coast pilsner. That means you’re going to get a beautiful golden color to marvel at while enjoying easy-drinking crispness of German malt. Brewed with corn and rice, it’s light enough in body to stand up to an Indian Summer in San Francisco.
The final brew to roll out of the fermenters this week was 1st Second Try. A likely nod to an initially botched batch, it’s an extra pale ale, which means hops — but not over-aggressive, palate-wrecking bitterness. The well-rounded beer is more floral on the bouquet, delivering delicate wafts of citrus fruit, than it is heavy on the tongue.
All three beers are surprisingly session-able, so expect to sit back and enjoy a couple of cold pints, preferably alongside some of the savory small plates from Bartlett Hall’s dynamic menu. Miso and maple-glazed ribs, served with cauliflower curry, were spiced and slightly sweet, enhancing the tropical aromas of the pale ale. The restaurant's duck confit flatbread pizza is a great partner for the pilsner, matching the malt bite per sip.
Many San Franciscans are all too eager to avoid the trappings of Union Square and its tourist-heavy cross streets. Bartlett Hall is now serving up three compelling reasons to reconsider.