21st Amendment – San Francisco
If you have ever closely examined a 21st Amendment can, you may have noticed that their beer is canned here in Cold Spring, Minnesota. But when you dig a bit deeper, you will quickly learn that the beer and the company come to the Midwest from sunny San Francisco.
I recently visited the brewery to better understand the origins of one of the first craft beers I fell in love with, Back in Black, which I toted on a kayak camping trip down the Root River. That beer, along with their fall seasonal, Fireside Chat, hold a special place in my liver.
The restaurant has a space in southeast San Francisco that fits in perfectly with the SOMA neighborhood, an area of modest gentrification and apparent growth. Walking there feels very familiar, like a grittier version of Minneapolis’ North Loop or Chicago’s Armitage neighborhood. Across the street is a window full of antique gowns and also a wine bar with an extensive high-tops that face the street, but boarded-up storefronts are only blocks away.
All beers served on premise are brewed behind the dining room in a tiny 30 bbl brewhouse. As a non-local, it was pretty shocking to see the quaint pub given their vast distribution and presence throughout the US. Visiting this pub before experienceing the cans would make it hard to imagine that this beer makes it into the hands of drinkers nationwide.
Golen Arrow packs a serious punch but represents its 8.4% ABV with lots of yeast-derived flavor including smooth esters of banana and bubble gum.
The server was lovely and chatted with my family and I about our travels down highway 1. She let me try the MCA session stout which was far more flavorful than I expected and worked nicely in contrast to the Belgian. It had a strong coffee-chocolate component and enought body to be more substantial than the word “session” conveys.
There are plans to expand operations within California, which is very exciting for the owners who have always wanted to be closer to home. Production capacity is at an all-time high in Cold Spring — “We really have come a long way from brewing 1,000 barrels of beer at Third Street Brewery in 2008 to this past year producing 57,000 barrels.” — The stars now align to bring a new facility to San Leandro, CA.
More than just Giants fans and those looking for a quick burger will be impressed by a visit to 21st Amendment. The beer selection is obviously a huge draw, but they also have a nice happy hour, a creative menu, and even served a delectably fresh ginger ale to my mom all while providing great service.