Almanac Beer is a San Francisco company whose brews can be found in 20 states. Launched in 2011 by Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan, the “gypsy” brewery – one that relies on other breweries’ equipment – started in Dogpatch, where its administrative offices are still found.
Friedman and Fagan began as homebrewers. For years in their respective City apartments the pair concocted five-gallon stovetop batches. They started selling at farmer’s markets, and settled on Third Street as the company’s home because they knew the area well. Friedman has lived in Potrero Hill for a decade; Fagan’s been a Mission resident on and off for the past 15 years.
“We wanted to be part of those diverse and exciting neighborhoods, so the location was a natural fit for us,” Fagan told the View.
Friedman and Fagan brainstorm ideas for interesting, unusual, and seasonal beers. In addition to water, malt, yeast, and hops, Almanac beer includes fruit, though the pair avoid too sweet flavors. Once a recipe has been devised, Almanac selects a local partner farm to provide the produce. The company uses many different forms of citrus from Hamada Farms in Kingsburg; stone fruit, including plums, nectarines, and peaches, from Blossom Bluff Orchards in the Central Valley; and strawberries from Swanton Berry Farms in Santa Cruz.
For barrel-aged brews, the beer is racked into oak barrels and continues to evolve during a secondary fermentation. The beer absorbs hints of toasted vanilla and oak from the barrel, and fuses with fruits.
Almanac works with about 35 distributors across 20 states. In California, most boutique beer-wine-spirits stores stock Almanac products, as do larger beverage retailers like BevMo, Total Wine, Raleys, Nugget, and some Trader Joe’s stores. City Beer Store, Healthy Spirits, Blackwell Wines, Ales Unlimited, and Whole Foods Markets have Almanac on their shelves.
“We’re in many bars and restaurants as well; Toronado, Zeitgeist, Crafty Fox, The Willows, and Sycamore are all great beer bars that carry Almanac on draft,” Fagan said.
At the end of last year, Friedman and Fagan opened a taproom on 24th Street and Potrero Avenue. They don’t brew beer there – Almanac remains a gypsy brewery – but the taproom serves a selection of 15 Almanac draft beers and a constantly rotating set of bottled beers. It offers “fresh” beers too, such as ales, saisons, and IPAs. A full menu of seasonally-focused food, including a range of house-made charcuterie, is available.
“The taproom is all ages and we have a killer outdoor beer garden, which is so great to have in the sunny Mission,” Fagan said.
In terms of future plans, “exciting things” are in the works, but Fagan declined to divulge further details. “I can’t share a whole lot more right now, but continuing to brew delicious and creative beers with high quality California-sourced ingredients is something that will always be at the core of what we do.”