I'll admit, I've been stalking Barrelhead Brewhouse's Facebook page for weeks. It's big news, the fact that an impressive "ragtag group of San Francisco bar people" as one partner calls it, are about to open a gorgeous two-story brewery in the Western Addition, in the former home of the Fulton Street Bar. The people behind Barrelhead have asked to remain as anonymous as possible in this city, so I'll honor their request – but suffice it to say these guys collectively come from some of the city's most popular drinking establishments. And the one public name on the bar, Ivan Hopkinson, was a co-founder of Brewtruc, among other accomplishments.
I took a tour of Barrelhead, which is on the corner of Fulton and Masonic and is rapidly being transformed in time for its expected opening next week (Update: they'll be open on Monday, March 17). The place has the kind of details that beer, meat, and design nerds would love. Although the plan is to serve basic pub food (yes, there will be a burger and poutine on the menu), Barrelhead will also throw in some Midwestern twists with items like Salisbury steak. There's also a smoker in house that's apparently big enough to fit a whole pig.
The owners showed me the elaborate brewing setup that'll be visible to the public on the ground floor. It involves some fancy Italian equipment that they joke is brewing porn for beer lovers. They're aiming to have four of their own beers available to customers soon after opening, with the longer range plan to expand out into a dozen different varieties. With the place rigged for 42 taps, narrowing down your order should be part of the fun – and you'll be able to take some of those delicious brews home in growlers.
The spacious place has been designed with booths and a fireplace (icing on the cake for me) downstairs and a mezzanine upstairs. For people like myself who geek out on woodworking, the tables have been made from wood reclaimed from the Noe Valley Ministry, and the bar tops are sleek, beautiful slabs of redwood, their knots filled in with resin and funny little knickknacks (hops, coins, plastic people).
But the big thing people will likely be discussing about Barrelhead's aesthetic is the huge torpedo tap, which was designed and fabricated by Engine Works' super talented team of Sam Ferguson and Dave Huebner.
Other highlights include the giant windows facing out on Fulton Street, which should be pretty awesome to peer through during those weekends when you'd rather not have brunch in the dark.
Barrelhead Brewhouse will be open weekends from 10 a.m. until 2 a.m. and weekdays from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m.
One cool side note: the artwork of this girl below was wheatpasted on the building when it was still under construction. The owners loved the image so much they saved it and are planning on giving it a home inside the bar. If you are (or you know) the artist responsible for this piece, the Barrelhead folks would love to meet you.
All photos by Ben Youngerman