Magnolia Brewing Co is located in one of my favorite parts of San Francisco, The Dogpatch. I have many fond memories of attending events like Decompression in Esprit Park. Just a few blocks from there lies Magnolia. This brewing company occupies a small corner in a vast and ancient industrial building. Looming over the outline of this building is the vaster and ancienter Potrero Power Plant and its great, dead smoke stacks.
While I was there, I met several artists who work in the same building. We talked about our favorite books and TV shows. It’s that kind of place.
What Was It Like?
The front room is separated from the outside by old-fashioned paned glass windows which stretch to a very high ceiling. Inside the large glass double doors, a heavy curtain protects the carefully intentioned space from exposure to the frigid February air. The first thing one sees is a large dining room with a bar on one side and an open and exposed kitchen on the other side. Cooks and servers can be seen in the kitchen to the right making food and plating it. To the right, bartenders pour and queue drinks for servers to whisk away to waiting patrons.
Behind all this — opposite the front door — there is another wall made of paned glass which stretches from floor to ceiling. Huge industrial rails stretch over what used to be a kind of sliding portcullis. Now it lies permanently open, its door forgotten. This leaves an opening in the giant glass wall. Behind it, a very modern space can be seen.
Inside the back room, a dozen picnic tables are arranged in a row across the room. Behind them, the entire far wall is lined with massive wooden bleachers, reaching halfway to the ceiling. They curve in and out as they stretch across the room. This forms a series of alcoves resembling booths, where groups of people sit and eat and drink. To the right in this back room, there are many large pieces of brewing equipment. To the left, another wall made from floor-to-ceiling windows.
I take a seat and am greeted with a menu, silverware, an empty glass, and a carafe of water. I ask for tastes of several of the strongest beers they have on tap. There are provided to me with the distinct impression that I could ask for several more. Luckily, I fell in love with the first one I tasted.
But what to eat…
I know! I’ll order french fries.
I ended up deciding to pair the fries with the Cucumber Constrictor: Double Cucumber Meyer Lemon IPA, (possibly a collaboration between Magnolia Brewing and 21st Amendment?)
You can see the large wooden bleachers in the background. I was sitting at one of the picnic tables.
The fries were served on a wooden tray with ketchup and mayonnaise. They were salted but my palate did not detect any other spices or flavors. The potatoes tasted quite fresh, as though they were never frozen. They were baked with the peels left on, for a nice rugged texture.
The Cucumber Constrictor: Double Cucumber Meyer Lemon IPA was really excellent. I had five. In fact, I got so drunk that I decided to start this blog right there at the table. And the cucumber/lemon combination made a really great pairing with the less boldly flavored french fries.
Magnolia has a great atmosphere which certainly contributed to many interesting and varied conversations with other patrons who were there.
The wooden tray was a nice touch, and I liked the presentation of the condiments.
They were quite good, though I would have liked a little more flavor. The condiments that were included were a little bland as well. I think this could be improved by including more interesting twists on ketchup and mayonnaise. For example, sriracha ketchup or garlic mayonnaise. These things may have been possible to ask for, but they were not included by default which seems more germaine for the purposes of reviewing the experience.
This may sound a little crazy if you don’t live in the city, but for San Francisco, the price was great. The fries and one beer came out to about twenty bucks. Of course I had four more beers after that, but that’s not Magnolia’s fault.
I will definitely go back to Magnolia in the future. It was a very fun environment in a very fun part of town where I naturally encountered some very fun people. I actually ended up swapping contact information with several of them. We may collaborate on some art projects in the future.
Magnolia did a great job of setting the scene for a wonderful night on the town with some great friends stretching into the next morning. Overall, I definitely recommend Magnolia and its french fries, though I might suggest asking for some spicier sauces to dip them in. 😉