Local brewery known for Pride-themed beer makes comeback after fire

A beer that was specifically brewed to celebrate Pride Month is rising from the ashes – literally.

San Francisco’s Local Brewing Company launched their “Gay Crush” beer this past week, a little more than a year after their business had burned to the ground.

On December 2nd 2022, a fire started in their historic building on Bluxome Street in SOMA.

“There was a fire on the top floor of the building, unrelated to brewery in the middle of night,” remembered Regan Long, co-owner and brew-master of Local Brewing. “Thankfully non one was hurt, but the fire was so intense that the roof collapsed, and we were forced to close our business.”

It is a business, like many, that was forced to pivot and survive after the Covid-19 pandemic, but the fire added another challenge.

“We could have just given up, but me and my co-founder (Sarah Fenson) felt like it wasn’t right to have it end with a fire,” said Long.

Local Brewing was founded in 2014, moving into their brick-and-mortar location in SOMA where it quickly broke barriers.

“We were the first woman owned and operated brewery in San Francisco, which was pretty remarkable to us at the time,” said Long.

And Regan and Sarah, who were already outsiders in a male dominated craft brewery scene, made the intentional decision to create a business model of inclusion and acceptance. That culture was put on full display in 2017 when they were asked to create a Pride theme brew.

“I think we were one of the first breweries in the Bay Area to make a Pride Beer,” said Long. “The first one was called “Gay Beach,” which if you know the terminology in the neighborhood of the Castro and Dolores Park it is known as Gay Beach.”

But after the fire destroyed their brewery, production of all their beers came to a halt, and they were forced to pivot again, to rebuild and rebrand their business.

Today, Regan Long drives to Richmond twice a week where she contracts with East Brothers Brewing to make her beer.

“East Brothers has been a lifeline for us,” said Long. “Because of them we were up and running and brewing beer within 8-months of the fire.”

Along with four flagship beers, Local Brewing also began brewing a beer they take pride in producing.

“We are bringing back “Gay Crush” for first time since the fire,” said Long. “We really try to make it so it’s lighter bodied, easy drinking to that it’s really crushable in Dolores Park.”

The “Gay Crush” Pride Beer was released on June 1st in limited quantities – including 15 kegs and 30 cases of beer.

“Even in a small batch, to put it back out there is so meaningful for us,” said Long.

As for the future, the goal is to one day relaunch their own brewery and restaurant, but because small businesses including craft breweries have not fully recovered from the pandemic, Local Brewing Company plans to take their time on when to make that decision.

“We’ll see how far it can go from here and hopefully you know, it will make sense for us to get a brick and mortar going again and get to see the place filled with our customers again,” said Long.

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