Serious Eats: Drinks
5 Memorable Beers from Speakeasy Brewery's 16th Anniversary Party
Speakeasy Brewery turned sweet 16 this weekend and had a big ol' birthday bash to celebrate at their San Francisco brewery and tap room. And the beer was flowing—in addition to classic pours like their Big Daddy IPA, a few brand-new and limited release beers were available for the drinking.
We caught up with Speakeasy's Director of Brewing Operations Kushal Hall, and got some details on the must-try beers of the day (sadly, the keg of wet-hop IPA went dry before I got my thirsty little hands on it).
Kushal Hall, drinking a Tallulah. "We wanted to make a beer that would be good to drink a six-pack of in Dolores Park on a hot day," he told us.
The San Francisco Lager (pictured up top, 5.5%) is the first in a series of test lagers that the brewery is working on. "We needed something refreshing for the barbecue!" Hall said of the crisp, light-bodied beer. The lager is brewed using mostly German hops with a bit of Centennial to give it a "San Francisco flavor." Hall noted that they'll be tweaking their lager formula over the next few months in anticipation of a bottled version that will be released next year. This refreshing version is available on draft at the brewery for now—just right for San Francisco's warm September weather.
The Butchertown Black Ale (8.2%) is Speakeasy's current seasonal beer, meaning it will disappear again soon. The malty, full-bodied beer is brewed with barley, flaked rye, and wheat. Hall describes the beer as being "halfway between a black IPA and a porter," with a maltier, drier flavor than many IPAs. Delicate hopping adds a subtle floral note, too.
"Normally, I like to brew beers with a little more balance... but every year for our anniversary, we make a really big, over-the-top IPA," Hall said of the Blind Tiger (9.8%). Hall told us that he uses seven pounds of Columbus hops per barrel of this brew. The beer has a significant grapefruit flavor—it's a tasty, hoppy punch in the mouth. The recipe will likely change a bit, but Hall said they have plans to release a bottled Blind Tiger next year.
VIP ticket holders at the party had the chance to try some rare beers in the taproom, including the Bourbon Barrel-Aged Scarface Imperial Stout (on the left, 9.5%) and the 2009 Old Godfather Barleywine (10.8%). "This is literally the last keg," Hall said of the Barleywine, a beer with sweet, port-like fruit flavors and smooth, honeyed texture.
The Imperial Stout has been aged since February in Evan Williams barrels. Rich and mapley, the beer offers deep coffee flavor and delicate carbonation—it was remarkably drinkable for its ABV.
Want to taste some of Speakeasy's best for yourself? The brewery and taproom are open for visitors. Check the hours here before heading over.
About the author: Lauren Sloss is a bicoastal food-lover who is based in San Francisco. Some of her favorite things include The Black Keys, goat gouda, and guacamole. You can follow her on Twitter @laurensloss.