Magnolia Pub & Brewery
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Ratings: 159 | Reviews: 126 | Display Reviews Only:
4.13/5 rDev +2.2%
Showed up medium to well done on the heels of ‘let’s go fuck with Brian Strumke at the City Beer event’, and then revisited today. Just as well, as there was too much going on last night to scribble scrabble; We arrived for dinner too late, the place was too packed, I was too hungry to deal, and too little time had passed since that ‘plint’ at that sportslike bar next to my ‘otel (A ‘plint’ is a ‘pint of Pliny’. I made that word up, and you may only use it about town if you properly footnote me). Okay, 45 minutes for a table, and then while waiting to get a beer at the bar, our table came in so we sat and ordered from there. And then today, while Ben worked, Bethy & I laughingly (Ha Ha!) took the mulligan and returned to drink beer...
What scenes Haight & Masonic have seen, I can only imagine. Large windows with smaller horizontal windows tracing them atop over both streets and sprawling awnings on outdoor seating wrapping around the sides with drop mounted lighting. Entranceway in the corner between, with a stained glass address piece sitting above the door. Used to be a pharmacy, they say, and now it’s a brewpub; all Grateful Deaded down from its former show. Well worn, and kind of tired with its stained ceilings cracked and faded yellow wall uppers two sides around, but has its charm just the same.
To the rear of the room, a wide wood straight bar with a slat wood base and piping foot rail, seating 8 on stools. It would reasonably seat more, but the bar is broken up by a center pillar along the way. 15 taps on a blackboard panel on the barback wall, with nondescript handles and chalk drawings above. Four shelves of glassware next to the panels over mirrored backing and subway tilings below a kitchen peekaboo on the end. More barback unit space to the side (barside?), with a center mirror and shelved books, old apothecary bottles, and a growler. A mounted ‘Festival of firkins’ board above describes the goings on, which may explain the 5 handpumps on the bar and 2 more on the end. Great Caesar’s ghost!
Slight bar counter for 4 sits adjacent to the bar, we were fortunate enough to take over. A single long table along the side street windows, with seating for a dozen on raised stools, alongside a center divider with 2 black leather booths on each side. A horizontal board listing tap selections (draught & cask), and strong beer month entries sits above in between pillars, and slides down for easy updating access. A dozen+ square and round 2 seat tables run up front along the windows and around the bend along the far wall on boothed backings below splotched glass panels with corner lamp lighting in a wood unit piece matching the bar. Bathroom tile floorings, filament bulbs along the perimeter over the windows, and drop spinning top glass lamps in 2 rows from above.
Okay, so 15 taps, currently occupied by 12 beers, a root beer, a wine (Sutton Cellars), and a hard cider (Two Rivers Pomegranate). The beer breakdown was 4 house regulars that we sampled (Kalifornia Kolsch, 4.7%, a lovey, lovely Kolsch; Big Cypress Brown, 3.7%, an English style Brown, it was, um, adequate; Dark Star Mild, 3.6%, beautiful, dark, grainy malt goodness; Proving ground IPA, 7%, very nicely balanced, wonderful), another 2 that we didn’t (Oysterhead Stout, Prescription Pale Ale), 5 house Strong Beer Month entries (Pride of Branthill, Tweezer Trippel, Oakstack Lightning Imperial Stout, Promised Land Imperial IPA, Old Thunderpussy Barleywine) ranging from 8.5% to 10.25%, and the San Francisco Brewer’s Guild collaboration Strong Ale (which I had at Thirsty Bear earlier). Plus 2 house firkins (Billy Sunday’s Best Bitter, 5%, which was Thursday’s bust butter; and Gold Top, 4.8%, a Belgian Golden, excellent), and 5 guest firkins for the event (Birrificio Le Baladin Al-Iksir, Birra Del Borgo Re Ale, RCH Brewery Old Slug Porter, Harviestoun Schiehallion and Bitter & Twisted). The Kalifornia Kolsch, Dark Star Mild, Proving ground IPA, and the cask Gold Top were the best of ‘em.
The food menu is paper pasted on backings displaying old set list. Hey! I was at this show (Giant Stadium 6/17/91), and this one, too (Richfield Coliseum 9/4/91). I started with 2 meats (Salametto Piccante & Soppressata) and then the Magnolia pub burger (dry aged organic beef, cheddar, and thick slab mapley bacon). I had help with the fries. They split the beet salad (phenom!), and then Ben had the Louisiana Andouille with cheese grits, and Bethy, the pork chop with duck fat, cannellini beans, caramelized onions, and kale. Food was of the awesome variety.
Pleasant servers, comfortable house, some very nice beerings, and excellent food. Good tunes; lots of Dead (surprise, surprise), Led Zeppelin, Talking Heads, Petty. Not to talk potty but they do have a cool basin sink back there for the washing of one’s mitts. And dig on that great wafting wort steam from the basement brewery below.
05-09-2012 19:04:42 | More by slander
4.28/5 rDev +5.9%
It should go without saying (as with most trendy hotspots) to avoid going at peak hours if you don't want to be disappointed.
Corner spot in the Haight, the space had some funky vintage touches to it, like old tile flooring, tiled walls behind the bar, and an old vintage washbasin for the restrooms (and actual towels). Chalkboards detailed the house selections, which included 12 drafts and 4 casks, which was impressive. Two wet hop harvest ales, one dry hopped with Citra, the other with Simcoe. Weekapaug Gruit, a couple bitters, milds, pair of IPA's, ESB, Kolsch, Stout, Pale on draft and cask.
Visited twice in the same day, first for drinks at the bar and later for a bite to eat after shopping and hitting Alembic. Service was great both times, the bartender even did some juggling of plates. Our server was very knowledgeable about the beers, and suggested a tasting order for the beer flight.
Quality and attention to detail here is top notch... from the custom built beer flight boxes, branded glassware, imperial pints, psychedelic art coasters, and the sharp menus (check out the back of the paper, it's a clever blotter art design). Didn't really know what to expect after all the crappy reviews, but Magnolia was a surprise hit of our visit to SF.
10-09-2011 01:10:52 | More by emerge077
4.5/5 rDev +11.4%
Yet another place that did not exist when I was stationed here. I remember a dust-up with the Irish immigrant lass who was splitting her time with me and a co-worker. In my older, wiser guise, it would have been a small thing, but in my young, dumb, and full of cum era, she broke my glasses, blackened my eye, spat on me, and stormed north to her apartment, leaving me steaming mad on the same corner at which Magnolia now sits. For the uninitiated - not all of my memories are pleasant ones.
Okay, deep breath and back to the present. For starters, the entry is on an angle to Height and Masonic, with a ¾ wrap-around panoramic window front. The Height never looked better. The I-Beam was gone, the Red Vic was a B & B, and yet I shed nary a nostalgic tear. Here we had beer.
The extensive back bar began along Masonic and simply wrapped around to the right with the back bar fronting the kitchen. A trippy mural that ran all of the bar area and some of the restaurant area was very evocative of Rick Griffith art. Point of fact - the Grateful Dead began in a Victorian not far from here.
Seques, digressions, where else but SF? Man, this is the place where I heard a guy tell me at the Fillmore, "Man, I am so proud to be here. This is where my mom dropped acid for the first time. Pass me your kit". Whoops! Did I say that? Well, never busted and many years off of the habit, so none are the wiser.
Is there a review in here? It may have ended when I had to visit the Man Behind the Curtain to do #1.
What direction need a review take? Okay, let's get serious.
Beers: Twelve (12) taps and three (3) casks. Blue Bell Bitter; Sara's Ruby Mild; Big Cypress Brown; Cole Porter; Spooky Tooth Stout; and Oysterhead Stout (made with two bushels of Hog Island Sweetwaters).
Cask: Proving Ground IPA; Cole Porter; Spud Boy's IPA.
Rumor had it that they had renovated since my December 2007 visit, so a re-visit seemed to be in order.
The door was still oriented to Haight and Masonic, so let's start there. Entering, high tables lined the windows along Masonic with standard tables and chairs overlooking Haight. It was mainly booth seating center. The kitchen and back bar ran along the back wall with a series of upholstered padded benches fronted by tables to right. The walls seemed spartan as compared to my last visit, but my pigtailed server, Andrea, explained that it is ownership's desire to recall the building's roots as a pharmacy ("After all, S. F. has a MUCH richer history than just THAT one summer"). Fair enough, but Grateful Dead still held forth from the speakers. White tile English style lavs with Grateful Dead B & W photos hanging on the walls. I ended up hanging out with Rock Bottom brewers from San Diego and San Jose on my visit!
Draft: Kalifornia Kolsch; Proving Ground IPA; Tweezer Tripel; X (Belgian Abbey Single); Blue Bell Bitter; Sara's Ruby Mild; Dark Star Mild; Big Cypress Brown; Cole Porter; Stout of Circumstance.
Cask: Big Cypress Brown; Blue Bell Bitter; Proving Ground IPA; Sara's Ruby Mild; Cole Porter.
Coming soon: Half-Step Hefeweizen; Spud Boy's IPA.
11-25-2009 10:13:30 | More by woodychandler
4.16/5 rDev +3%
How am I remiss in reviewing the Magnolia? I walked all the way from the BART train at the embarcadero just to visit.
It's a comfortable place that's just big enough. When I arrived it was pretty full, but I was able to find a place at the bar.
The bar is nice with a plank bar-top and lots of dark wood. There's a window that looks into the kitchen surrounded by subway tile, and schoolhouse lampshades hanging from the ceiling. The walls are yellowed, seemingly untouched for quite some time, and the ceiling is in even worse shape, giving it a really nice "old time" feel. To the right, here's a black leather banquet against the wall with old mirrors above it and some retro lights - very cool. It looks like they bought the place "as is" and just left it as the wonderfully charming time capsule that it is (except that all of the tables, chairs and stool seem brand new).
On to the beer, I had three and all were good. I couldn't pass by the Sara's Ruby Mild thinking that it must be based on the Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild from Sedgley, England. Spud Boy's IPA sounded good as well, and I couldn't resist the Branthill ESB as the gentleman seated next to me was expounding its virtues to the rest of his group. It's not often that I find a brewpub that can impress me with every beer that I taste, but Magnolia has done it!
It was lunchtime but I didn't have anything (although it all looked good) because I was heading over to Pi for a slice.
Overall, it's my favorite place in San Francisco, even if it is right down the street from Toronado.
12-27-2011 16:07:26 | More by NeroFiddled
4.14/5 rDev +2.5%
An above-averge brewpub for America. The local area is an historic hippie area, and still piled with street people and tatoo parlours, but they have kept this place refurbished and clean. The staff is genuinely friendly. The beers are good, noteably the famous Cole Porter. It is relaxed and melow place to have a beer. And that is a lot to say. Parking is possible.Some really good guest taps, a variety in the product lineup, and the staff working well with each other, and good real bathrooms are noted.
05-28-2010 23:15:38 | More by Sammy
3.74/5 rDev -7.4%
Had not been here in several years, and frankly I was not all that impressed during my visit today. There were no guest beers on tap (in the past they had quite a selection of SpeakEasy stuff), and they were out of the Proving Ground IPA. Also, I spoke to the waitress/bartender about the atmosphere/decorartions in the pub, which I thought were pretty stark. She indicated the owner recently decided to get rid of the paintings and murals, in order to emphasize the old wood and aged feel of the building. That's fine I suppose, but right now the place has the feel of a place that is still recovering from a recent earthquake. Right now all you see is chipped paint, delapadated walls, etc. Service is fine, our bartender waitress was pretty friendly and we never had to wait too long. The brewpub still had a fairly decent selection of their own beers, as well as several on cask. The one beer I tried, an aged ale, was prettty decent. No complaints along those lines.
Ended up just getting a half pint and a glass of rootbeer, which cost $6. Considering we were in the Haight, I didn't think that was too unreasonable.
While I had not been here in several years, I can't say my recent experience corresponded well with what I recalled. This place is just down the street from the Toronado, and frankly I'll be damned if I can think of one reason why I would go here rather then there. The place was fine, but based on past experiences, I really was expecting a better experience. Oh well....
01-31-2009 03:38:10 | More by John_M
4.1/5 rDev +1.5%
I stopped here for some beers and dinner while in San Francisco on business. It's in the heart of the Haight (on Haight St, 1 block east of Ashbury) so it's got a bohemian quality which worked for me. The place is kind of small and crowded but it didn't take long to get a table.
The beer selection is all brewed on site, and most are pretty good. The crown jewel of their regular selections is the Kalifornia Kolsch but the Summit IPA seasonal (maybe a one-time project) was even better. There were 2 casks being offered and about 9-10 drafts spanning the typical range (porter, IPA, brown ale, stout, wheat, mild ale, etc).
I had a pizza with dinner, it was ok but nothing special really. The beer is why you come here. I'm glad I searched on BA before coming to town, beerfly is an essential tool for travel.
07-22-2006 17:40:49 | More by TurdFurgison
4/5 rDev -1%
I dropped in here Saturday after hitting the Toronado Bwine festival. The restaurant is right on a corner on Haight St. in San Francisco. The interior reflects the atmosphere of the location, with a few artsy murals lining the walls. Looking at the blackboards, the emphasis was definitely on the beer over the food, with most of the space being dedicated to the beer. The bartender was very prompt but not especially friendly. I also didn't try the food but have heard many good things. I would've tried more, but we were saving our stomachs for more barleywine. It was busy when U went in, not sure if it always that busy or the festival had something to do with it.
02-17-2008 17:05:10 | More by barleywinefiend
3.86/5 rDev -4.5%
stopped into Magnolia for a pint post-Alembic and pre-Toronado on my last night in SF
located right on Haight Street, in area of relative high commotion. The bar was pretty quiet on 12-30
the infamous mural that is mentioned in many reviews is long gone, which i'm told has sparked a fair amount of negative emotions. Still, the haight-ashbury cliches rang true with beers named for Phish festivals and dead songs. hell, i even hummed along as Terrapin Station played in the background.
taps are written out on a hanging chalkboard - maybe 8-10 taps with 4-5 cask beers which appeared to be the same as the taps. i had their IPA, and it was good, but nothing overly exciting
did not eat here, didnt notice the menu either
01-01-2010 16:56:40 | More by dirtylou
Magnolia Pub & Brewery in San Francisco, CA
90 out of 100 based on 159 ratings.