Thirsty Bear's Brenden Dobel

Founding brewmaster Ron Silberstein opened Thirsty Bear in 1996, and three years ago it became the city's only certified organic brewery. Thirsty Bear is adjacent to techie central, aka the Moscone Convention Center, so look for programmers galore quaffing anything from nitrogenated Meyer ESB to whatever brewmaster Brenden Dobel taps seasonally. As for the food, it's Spanish tapas all the way. (Just be careful if you tell friends to meet you at the tapas bar, since there's a topless bar across the street.) Yesterday, the brewpub tapped Dobel's new Locavore Ale, brewed entirely with California-grown ingredients.

SFoodie: When did the brewery switch to brewing all organic and how important is that for the final product?

Dobel: We became certified organic by the CCOF in 2007. Honestly, brewing with organic ingredients does not improve, nor does it deteriorate, the quality of our beers. The satisfaction lies more in knowing that large portions of agricultural land somewhere in North America are pesticide free and the surrounding water is purer due to our purchasing power.

How does Locavore Ale turn that up to 11? Will any of the other beers switch over to California-grown materials?

Locavore is a step in the right direction of tightening the loop for ingredients. Again, we use our organic purchasing power to support a local farmer with his organic barley production. He has a lot depending on this first batch of ale to see if this can work economically. That being said, Linden Street has expressed interest, and most likely other organic breweries (Bison, Butte Creek, Uncommon Brewers, Ukiah, Eel River) would prefer to use local organic malt, rather than Canadian or European malt. This also includes locally grown hops from Hops-Meister farms.

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