With the new year rapidly approaching, it is hard to look back on the past year in beer and not agree that it was a fantastic year in beer for the Bay Area (and just about everywhere else as well!). One of the best parts of any year is getting to try out all of the new locations that open up throughout the year. For my first post on my new site, I thought it would be fun to write about my favorite new places that I enjoyed some beer at in 2012. I hope that you make it your new years resolution to try as many of these places as you can in 2013, and I hope that you enjoyed them as much as I did. (Note, these are in no particular order).
Hops & Hominy (@hopsandhominy)
1 Tillman Place, San Francisco, CA 94108
Probably the best example of a everyday restaurant on this list, Hops & Hominy has a great southern focused menu that pairs extremely well with their (mostly) California focused beer menu. Even with only eight taps at any given time, the beer list always covers the full spectrum of beer styles, with any small gaps left over filled in by their well curated bottle list. It is also pretty common to see at least one or two beers get kicked and replaced during your meal, guaranteeing that the beer coming out of the taps is about as fresh as can be. Watch out for these guys during SFBW in 2013, as they will have some great beer dinners to flesh out your schedule.
St. Vincent (@StVincentSF)
1270 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110
Known mainly as a wine lovers destination, Sayre Piotrkowski insures that the beer lover has just as much of a reason to check this place out. Like Hops & Hominy, this place also has eight taps focused on local craft beer with Linden Street, Dying Vines, Craftsman, Moonlight, and Ale Industries consistently on the list. In addition, for those looking to try some non-CA beer, the bottle list is a well curated selection of international beers covering many European styles. The food menu is also fantastic for those looking for a full meal, as well as a great selection of cheese and desserts for those looking for a smaller after-dinner affair (the Milk and Honey is a personal favorite of mine).
Cervecería de MateVeza (@CerveceriaSF)
3801 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
One of two breweries on this list, MateVeza really impressed me the one time I got to visit this year during a Meet the Brewers SFBG (San Francisco Brewers Guild) Event. The thing that impressed me most about the location is the small-batch experimental beers that I got to try while I was there. There were at least four beers that were as full of creativity as they were fantastic. From their experimentation with Yerba Mate and yeasts to their confidence in making great hoppy beers, I left there a very satisfied beer fan. Next time I make it over there, I look forward to another couple beers and a great empanada to match.
Dark Horse Inn (@DarkHorseSF)
942 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112
Those familiar with this location will call me out on the fact that they did not open in 2012 (they had their 1st Anniversary party not too long ago), but I feel this location has gotten far less attention then they deserved, so I wanted to include them on this list. With nine taps constantly flowing, and a very reasonably priced bottle list, this is a great place to grab some beers that is also reasonable on the wallet. The food is great as well hitting that Pub-style food category just right (I cannot visit without getting the fried pickles). They rotate their taps very often, but it is easy to keep up with them on BeerMenus, and a quick glace shows that they know their beer. Kudos as well for getting some great Los Angles beer that you will not find anywhere else in the Bay Area.
Sante Adairius Rustic Ales (@santeadairius)
102 Kennedy Drive, Capitola, CA
For the second time on this list I will cheat a bit, but I guarantee this one is worth your while. Down a bit past Santa Cruz, of the the Greater Bay Area’s most interesting breweries opened this year. I visited them once last year, and to say I was impressed would be a severe understatement. They had six beers on tap, most of which were complex blends and barrel aged beers, all of which were just plain fantastic. I was shocked at the quality and breath of beers available to try on day one! And if my word is not good enough, they gained some good attention at The Bistro’s Barrel Aged Festival this year winning the People’s Choice Award. This brewery is well worth a trip down to Santa Cruz by itself, and I hope that some of their beer makes it up to San Francisco for SFBW 2013.
Belltane Brewing (@BeltaneBrewing)
401-B Bel Marin Keys Blvd, Novato, CA 94949
The latest brewery to open in the Bay Area, I am a bit embarrassesed to admit that I did not make it to brewery after their formal opening in December. However, based on the sneak peak I had of their beer earlier in the year, it is high on my list for places to visit in 2013, and I feel it should be on your list as well. The beers that I got to try covered a great deal of breath from DIPA to Sours, and hit darn good marks in all categories between. These guys were left out of SFBW 2012 due to the loss of the Nanobreweries of Tomorrow 2012 event, but look out for them in 2013, as I assume that they will be making up for lost time.