SAN FRANCISCO — It’s easy to forget when you’re knocking down a pint or two at your local brewery that at its core, your beloved brewery is ultimately a business. In a growing field of new breweries emerging, there’s a new South of Market brewery who’s owners are using nuggets from their business backgrounds to bring an element of crowdsourcing to the San Francisco beer scene.
Local Brewing Co. is the latest brewery to open in SF’s SoMa neighborhood at 69 Bluxome St. Within a quick jaunt of the King St. Caltrain station and AT&T Park, with a coat of red throughout, industrial style decor and a open space brewery within the public’s view — Local Brewing is beginning to roll out beers that have gone through a deep level of product development over the last several years.
On tap are various renditions of beers that co-founder and brewmaster Regan Long has developed after years of collecting feedback data on her recipes from homebrew meets and festivals. Beers like the lighter Glen Park IPA at 6.1 percent alcohol with citrus and floral notes, the Duboce IPA at 6.9 percent alcohol with more dank and resin flavors, the fruity common lager named Red Hill Lager, and Sutra Tower Stout with rich, dark malt textures.
“About six to seven years ago, we recognized a gap in the SF market: there were production breweries and brewpubs, but there just wasn’t really anything in between,” said Long. “We really felt like this was an opportunity to have a destination spot where people could see and be in the brewery – be a part of the process.”
Keeping the selection diverse
The brewery’s 10 barrel system will be rolling out new additions to their selection, reaching 16 taps in the coming months. Long says the vision is to keep the selection new and fluctuating all the time, so that visiting the brewery one week will be a different experience than the following week.
Creating Local Brewing and sculpting its vision started 12 years ago when Long began homebrewing in Glen Park. Long comes from a science background academically, and professionally was involved in engineering and business development. After delving into homebrewing, she created feedback forms to get an idea of what people thought of the beers that were being brewed. At local homebrew meets and festivals, she collected data from what people thought of her beers and refined the recipes from there.
Local Brewing brewed an India Black Ale at neighbor ThirstyBear back in 2010 for SF Beer Week. The idea was created by Long and co-owner Sarah Fenson, to scale up their India Black Ale recipe as a way for them to get their beer out in the public, as well as produce beer for the two to use in showcasing their beer offerings to potential accounts. The beer ended up being a success and Local produced about six more beers with ThirstyBear over the following years.
Beer custom brewed for the public
With their own space in full operation, Long says the brewery’s approach is to create approachable beers with character. “I’ve got about 30 different recipes and a few more I’m dialing in,” Long says. “We decided we’d do some really quality baseline stuff. And ultimately that’s what we’re doing from an overall brand perspective: we want to make interesting beers that are very approachable.”
To engage beer drinkers, the brewery has a function on their website, called Beer Curator, that allows viewers to choose their beer preferences — bitterness, complexity and alcohol content — and have a beer recommendation given based off those preferences. Once a preference is chosen, viewers can create an account with the brewery and as new beers are created that match their preferences, the brewery will send them a notification that a new beer matching their preference has been tapped.
The result is a mechanism for measuring what people are enjoying most, and data that helps Local Brewing decide what to keep brewing or brew next. As Local ramps up their selection to fill their 16 taps, local beer drinkers can expect to see more of what they like pouring on the taps.