Thursday, September 4, 2014


Cellarmaker Brewing Co.'s small tasting room, hot and crammed with people in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, begs you to drink a beer, if for nothing else then to help take the edge off the brewery's frenetic pace.  Three bartenders, sweating from an unrelenting line of customers, work hard to keep up the pace, even when a group brings in at least a half-dozen growlers for re-fills, most of which are not Cellarmaker growlers, requiring the extra step of placing masking tape over other brewery logos before filling the growlers.

The brewery and tasting room, on Howard Street in San Franciso's SOMA district, is standing room-only.  People don't leave once they get a seat, but linger to try more beers from the year-old brewery, each beer more compelling than the last.  Standing customers are relegated to the walls or somewhere not to seem conspicuous, while waiting to claim any open seat.  The tasting room is in front of the small brewing operation, which must be operating at capacity.  If someone told me Cellarmaker sold out of beer every weekend, I would believe it, given the hordes of beer geeks in the tasting room and the limited brewing facility, made smaller by a stack of barrels along one wall. 

I tried Tiny Dankster and Dank Williams.  Tiny Dankster is listed as a pale ale.  Riiiight.  Pale ale my a@%.  Tiny Dankster is the hoppiest pale ale I have ever tried, and there is nothing tiny about it.  It is brewed with Nelson, Mosaic and Citra hops.  Tiny Dankster weighs in at only 5.7% abv and 37 IBUs, making these two measures useless for predicting flavor or punch, as it drinks bigger and more bitter than the metrics' readings.  Oh yeah, it's dank, too.

Dank Williams is a double IPA brewed with "many hops."  Like Tiny Dankster, Dank Williams drinks above its weight class, and its 7.8% abv belies its big, full-bodied double IPA character.  It is hoppy and bitter, with a strong malt sweetness that fortifies its "many hops." I wasn't focused enough to discern whether Dank Williams fell into the pine IPA or citrus IPA category, but was paying enough attention to realize that it was a dang good, serious IPA, though not as dank as Tiny Dankster.

I also had a taste of the Bartender's Breakfast saison.  This was a funky, delicious farmhouse style saison, brewed with Brett Brux, Brett Drei, and Lactobacillus.  This beer was a collaboration with Monk's Kettle.

Cellarmaker is making excellent beers, based on the three I tried.  The long lines of patrons is a tribute to its quality beers.  I suspect Cellarmaker will expand to a second or larger facility soon, as the demand for its beers grows.

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