SF’s Bernal Heights and the Dogpatch

Barebottle Brewing now has four locations — two in San Francisco, and one each in Santa Clara and Menlo Park — but its Bernal Heights space was its first. (Courtesy Jay R. Brooks.)

This month, my Bay Area brewery tour took me to three beer destinations in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights and Dogpatch neighborhoods: Hop Oast Pub & Brewery, Barebottle Brewing and Harmonic Brewing. Each is worth a visit – here’s why.

Hop Oast Pub & Brewery

Veteran Bay Area brewer Aron Deorsey founded Hop Oast Pub & Brewery five years ago. (Courtesy Jay R. Brooks.) 

Founded five years ago by veteran Bay Area brewer Aron Deorsey (Pyramid, Steelhead Brewing, Beach Chalet) and named after an “oast,” the kiln used to dry hops used for brewing, this brewery taproom is a small oasis. There’s an L-shaped bar and a few tables and a kitchen that serves up sausages,  grilled cheese sandwiches, housemade pretzels and beer-pickled veggies.

Deorsey keeps about a dozen different beers on tap including his flagship Invicta IPA, a tasty West Coast IPA. Other popular beers include El Pachuco Mexican Lager, Bones Brigade Session IPA and, naturally, a Hazed & Confused Double Hazy IPA.

My personal favorites were Roggen’s Heroes Hefe-Rye-Zen, a traditional hefeweizen brewed with rye malt, which gives it a lovely tart character, and Aegirs Ol Norwegian Pale Ale, which is essentially a kveik – made with yeast strains from Norway farmhouse ales.

Deorsey is a talented brewer who likes to play with different ideas in his beers, so it’s worth stopping by to see what he’s been up to. You won’t regret it.

Details:Opens at 4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and at 2 p.m. on weekends at 2887 Bryant St. in San Francisco; hopoast.com.

Barebottle Brewing

Barebottle Brewing began in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood in 2016. (Courtesy Jay R. Brooks.) 

Bernal Heights is home to the original location of Barebottle Brewing, founded in 2016 by three homebrewers and friends: Lester Koga, Mike Seitz, and Benjamin Sterling. They’ve since expanded with locations in Santa Clara and Menlo Park, as well as San Francisco’s Salesforce Park, but this is where all of their beer is brewed, and it’s a lively scene.

The cavernous interior boasts picnic tables, private event areas, an arcade of pinball machines and video games, shuffleboard and foosball. There’s a food truck out front almost every day and more than two dozen housemade beers on tap.

The dog- and kid-brewery offers several types of lagers, pale ales, sour ales, hazy IPAs and stouts. Consider sampling the Muir Woods, a hazy IPA with interesting pine and citrus notes not often found in that style. I also enjoyed the Little Haus on the Prairie helles beer.

Regular events include Trivia Tuesdays, Wine Wednesdays (Barebottle makes it own wine), and Weekend Slushies, when bartenders make unique beer cocktails.

Details: Opens at noon daily at 1525 Cortland Ave. in San Francisco; barebottle.com.

Harmonic Brewing

Harmonic Brewing plans to close its Dogpatch location in October following a rent increase. (Courtesy Jay R. Brooks) 

Cross into the Dogpatch neighborhood, and you’ll find Harmonic Brewing, founded in 2015 by three friends and musicians, Eddie Gobbo, Jon Verna, and Eric Tisch.

They liked the neighborhood’s vibe: part old industrial and part up-and-coming. The brewery is in a bright industrial space with metal tables and chairs made at the metalworks next door. It’s a comfortable spot that invites the neighborhood in.

They keep about a dozen beers on tap, including the flagship Harmonic Kölsch, Prague Rock, a pilsner, and Kinsei Rice Lager. On the hoppy side, there’s the bright What Day IPA, You Love To ‘C’ It — an IPA brewed with 100% Citra hops– and the seasonal Jerry Day, a juicy IPA. When I was there, they were also pouring an oatmeal stout and a blackberry fruited sour to round things out.

Among the beer offerings at Harmonic Brewing are “Prague Rock,” a pilsner, and the brewery’s flagship beer, “Harmonic Kölsch.” (Courtesy Jay R. Brooks.) 

Rents are returning to pre-pandemic levels, even though customers’ spending habits have not, and many small businesses – especially breweries – are in a tough spot. Harmonic is one of them. I learned after my visit that the brewery will close its doors at this location due to a rent hike. I recommend stopping by the original location while you still can.

The good news: Harmonic Brewing opened a taproom at Chase Center’s Thrive City in 2020, so the brewery will live on. That’s music to my ears.

Details: Opens at 4 p.m. Tuesdays, 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and noon on weekends at 1050 26th St. in San Francisco; harmonicbrewing.com.

Know a local brewery or brewpub that’s knocking it out of the park but isn’t getting the recognition they deserve? Drop me a line at BrooksOnBeer@gmail.com and tell me why you love them.

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