Magnolia Gastroub & Brewery– brewpub
1398 Haight St @ Masonic (Google Map)
Official Site | Twitter | Yelp | BeerAdvocate
House microbrew: $6, with a standing “$3 Tuesdays” promotion
Open Mon-Thu noon-mid, Fri noon-1, Sat 10-1 , Sun 10-mid
MUNI: N, 6, 7, 33, 37, 43, 66, 71, 71L
Part of the Haight Beer Crawl
If you’re going to San Francisco [pause for Scott McKenzie reference], you’re probably going to the Haight-Ashbury. And after wandering the aisles of Amoeba and ducking panhandlers for a few hours, you’ll probably find yourself a bit thirsty. That’s where Magnolia comes in.
It’s on the corner of Haight & Masonic, one block east of the famous intersection of Haight & Ashbury (which thankfully, has rid itself of The GAP). You might expect a brewpub in the Haight to be full of heavy-eyed bearded dudes and Jerry Garcia tributes, where hops and other Cannabaceae run free. And a few years ago, you would have been more-or-less right. But a few years ago, Magnolia ditched the poncho, cut the hair, and picked a few things up at the aforementioned GAP. The result is a decidedly more button-downed gastropub that bears little resemblance to its namesake, but still provides San Francisco (not the mention the GABF) with some of the best beer around, in my humble opinion.
It’s not a huge place, so I recommend going in the afternoon if you can. There are four booths in the middle of the room, surrounded by eight tables, and there’s a large community table along the Masonic Ave window. There’s a small bar at the back, split in half by a beam that proudly displays Magnolia’s GABF medals (including 2009′s Gold for English Mild Ale “Sara’s Ruby Mild”). This bar usually- but not quite always- features a bartender. The community table is often the best bet for a seat or two in the evenings, but service can be spotty there. (Magnolia’s service here could be described as downright infamous in places like Yelp, but in my experience it’s been adequate.)
The menu is what you might call the next generation of pub grub, if you will. Upscale New American food dominates, with careful attention paid to keeping ingredients organic and local. There’s a little something for everyone, with sausage, seafood, salads, and steaks, and the menu rotates so much I wouldn’t even bother trying to look it up anywhere but Magnolia’s own site.
As mentioned above, the beer has amassed a healthy collection of medals in Denver, as well as hardware from other events, like the Proving Ground IPA which happens to be among this author’s all-time favorites (especially on cask). They’ll generally have around a dozen taps going, with four guest taps (often from partner 21st Amendment), as well as a pair of cask engines (and a handful of wines). They don’t bottle, but growlers are available, and can be a welcome addition to a picnic in nearby Golden Gate Park, Buena Vista Park, or the Panhandle, if such a thing would interest you.
One thing that stands out about Magnolia is that they collaborate often with other SF craft brewers for special events, most notably with 21st Amendment for the annual Strong Beer Month and 2009′s BRU/SFO Project, and you can often find them at the Bay Area’s big beer events. You generally will not find them, however, regularly on tap at other bars in San Francisco, two occasional exceptions being fellow Haight area drinkeries The Page and Toronado, and Magnolia’s own cocktail-focused Alembic Bar, four blocks away, which carries several of Magnolia’s beers.