SAN FRANCISCO — Some business owners think of their business as their child, taking a great deal of planning, energy, thought and care. And when they grow up, the sense of pride a parent feels can be unparalleled.
For Andrew Casteel, owner of Laughing Monk Brewing in the San Francisco Bayview District, he was arguably blessed with twins. The brewery opened its doors on Thursday, March 17, a few days after Casteel and his wife gave birth to their first son.
The brewery is the culmination of Casteel’s years homebrewing and experimenting with different beer styles, taking inspiration from traditional Belgian and California styles of beer and creating his own take on those flavors.
Beers like their Golden Ale with Chamomile boast clean, Earthy and peppery tones mixed with floral and herbal balancing from the chamomile addition. Casteel points out that in keeping with the local theme of the brewery — which is decorated with murals of local artists and features snacks from Bay Area food makers — the brewery will soon be using chamomile harvested from a nearby garden once ready.
As the brewery begins to fill up its 16 tap capacity, Casteel says beer enthusiasts can expect to try different takes of beers like their pale ale; a currently extremely crushable Pale Ale that throws hoppy mouthfuls mixed with grainy and grassiness textures, making it seem much bigger than the 5 percent alcohol it comes out to.
“We’re going to keep experimenting on the first few batches of everything,” Casteel said. “Our first pale and our second are going to be very different — one will be a Belgian yeast, one will be more classic… the expression of each beer is going to change.”
Their current tap selection is rounded out with an American Coffee Stout made with Artis cold brew coffee that boasts oat and chocolate notes, as well as their Evening Vespers Dubbel, a Chimay Red type of beer that features a rich stonefruit flavor.
“Our beer is the intersection of California and Belgium,” Casteel said. “We’re taking the traditions of Belgium and putting them through the California approach of local and fresh produce, and making the beer a unique moment in time.”
Not only will their selection of local snacks be available in addition to their beer, but beginning with Laughing Monk’s grand opening celebration on Saturday, April 23, Azalina’s will be serving its Malaysian cuisine at the brewery, with dishes like fried chicken and fries with a curry poutine option available.