Though you’d hardly know it from walking down the street right now, Bernal Heights is poised to enter a new Golden Age of high-quality beer. That’s right: craft beer, in many varieties, and great abundance… all coming to Bernal, and very soon.
Bernal neighbor Lessley Anderson of Baja Cortlandia is an ace reporter and ardent beer lover, and she files this exclusive report:
Once upon a time, Bernal had it’s own local beer at 3314 Army/Cesar Chavez, called North Star Brewing Company. (You can even see it in this photo.) But that was pre-prohibition, when San Francisco had almost 100 small breweries, and almost every neighborhood had at least one place pumping out fresh beer for the locals.
Joyfully, it appears we’re heading back to those days. According to SF Brewer’s Guild stats, the number of breweries is set to double in San Francisco next year, and cool beer bars are opening up faster than strip-mall cupcake concept stores in 2003. Beer is so hot right now, and the good news for Bernal beer lovers is that one of the hottest hotspots in this hot trendy trend, is… you guessed it, glamorous Bernal Heights.
In the coming months, three new and ambitious beer-focused establishments will open on Bernal’s stretch of Mission Street. Plus, word on the street is that still more beer projects are in development. Taken together, Bernal Heights is poised to blow up into a full-on craft beer destination. But you have questions, and I’ve tracked down lots of answers, so here are the details on what coming:
Where: 3215 Mission (in the former Locavore space)
When: Plans to open by end of this month
What: This will be Belgian beer bar and bistro from Jennifer Garris and Richard Rosen, of Pi Bar fame, with 12 tap handles. Four of those taps will be dedicated to imported Belgian ales. The others will rotate, including local versions of Belgian-style styles. Bel will also be a full-on restaurant, serving Belgian dishes like moules frites (YES!) , steak frites, and fish waterzooi (which is a stew with an intriguing name).
Fancy/Kid-Friendly: More schwank than Pi Bar, but not fancy. And yes, bring the kids.
Fun Fact: The bar has purchased a replica of Manneken Pis, that famous statue of the little boy peeing into the fountain in Brussels. They’ve also commissioned a seamstress from the SF Opera to make him special outfits for important days, such as Pride, or Elvis’ birthday.
Name: Old Bus Tavern
Where: 3193 Mission (in the former El Patio space)
When: Slated to open by early June
What: As Bernalwood previously reported, this will be a brewpub and chili-focused restaurant with a separate-but-related VW party bus project. That’s a lot to take-in… so here’s the breakdown: First, these guys will make their own beer (on a small, 3.5 bbl system, for all you beer-geeks out there). They will produce a range of styles, but their flagship beer will be a lemon-basil Saison. They’ll also serve a full menu of “California elevated bar food” that will highlight different chilies, and they’ll have cocktails. Lastly, as mentioned, they’re crowdfunding the purchase and transformation of a vintage Volkswagen bus into a beer/food truck/party mobile.
Fancy/Kid-Friendly: Won’t be fancy, but may be a little hipstery. And yes, kid-tolerant.
Fun Fact: Inspiration for the menu came from an epic roadtrip the partners took through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, where they sampled regional chilis.
Name: Old Devil Moon
Where: 3472 Mission (in the current La Terrazza space)
When: Hopes to open this fall
What: After La Terrazzo passes the torch, Old Devil Moon will be a bar, first, and foremost. Yet it will also have a limited menu on the side. (A great burger, and some Southern food they say.) They’re not making their own beer, but rather serving other people’s, with 20 rotating taps and a cask ale system, plus cocktails and a deep-dive into whiskeys. Founder Chris Cohen says he wants this place to rival the “best beer bars in the city.” He certainly knows what he’s talking about; Cohen founded the San Francisco Homewbrewers Guild and literally wrote the book on how to become a certified cicerone (which is like being a sommelier for beer). He wants it to be a cozy neighborhood spot with lots of wood and warm colors. They will also serve brunch.
Fancy/Kid-Friendly: Not fancy, and technically, yes, kids allowed. But this will really be more of a bar, FWIW.
Fun Fact: The name comes from an old jazz standard, originally from the musical Finian’s Rainbow. Cohen liked the “dark-yet-comfortable” vibe it conjured up.
BONUS! More more more! Fresh from the rumor mill!!
Name: Hop Oast
Where: 2887 Bryant (at Cesar Chavez, in the former D&J Furniture store)
What: The ABC license says it’s going to be a “small beer manufacturer” and “Pub and Brewery.” And right now, the windows are covered up with recycled bags of beer-making malt. Lisa Marie Delgadillo, owner of the Lucky Horseshoe Tavern on Cortland, is one of the masterminds behind the project, but she says it’s too premature to discuss: “It would be like someone taking a home pregnancy test, then sending out baby shower invitations for a date nine months out,” she explains.