It’s taken much longer than co-owners Anthony LaVia and Christopher Lawrence anticipated, but if the final inspections go well, Southern Pacific Brewery will be open in a few weeks.
In the meantime, it’s New Year’s Eve, and the owners are throwing a party.
“It’s New Year’s Eve, how could you not?” Lawrence said after walking around the renovated warehouse at 19th Street and Treat Avenue and checking in with his staff earlier this week.
The opening will add to the Misson’s importance in the world of beer — once firmly assured by the Hamm and Rainier breweries, which moved into the neighborhood in the 1910s and ’50s. Not everyone was enthused about the return of the tradition. When LaVia and Lawrence told neighbors about their plans last year, some were concerned about the extra foot traffic the business would bring to the block.
“We had some NIMBY neighbor issues that held us back,” LaVia told Mission Loc@l last February.
In the end, LaVia reached an agreement with neighboring businesses, and eventually negotiated with the Public Utilities Commission to bring down a high water capacity charge to something more affordable.
In early December, the brewery became the first business in San Francisco to hold a dual liquor license, which allows it to manufacture beer to sell to bars and to sell beer on site.
Also on tap at the brewpub will be dishes with Italian, French and German influences.
On Wednesday, Executive Chef Tyler Morrish, who worked at Osteria Coppa and Social Kitchen Brewery before being hired by Lawrence and LaVia, took a spoonful of a cheesy lentil burger patty.
“I’ve been trying to get it just right,” Morrish said, explaining that earlier versions of the patty were too crumbly.
For his menu, Morrish wants to use the grains used to make beer, as well as the ale itself, in his dishes. Pulled pork will be braised in beer, dishes seasoned with hops, and bread sticks and lentil burgers made with spent grains.
“Everybody around here cooks with wine; I’d like to have more beer-related cuisine,” he said.
On the menu for Saturday are appetizers such as salumi plates, pizzas and burgers.
After walking through the cold room he shares with brewer Andy French, Morrish explained that he tries to keep costs down by making most things in-house.
“Instead of spending money on bacon, you can make it for half the price,” Morrish said, pointing to plastic tubs full of lonza, pancetta and bacon.
French, who used to be the head brewer at Speakeasy Ales and Lagers, has been working on a white beer and a porter. They’re not ready just yet, he said after pouring a sample, so customers will have to wait a little longer. On Saturday, he’ll be pouring an IPA and a pale ale.
The party starts at 8 p.m. and will run until 2 a.m. Tickets are $20, and that includes a free champagne toast at midnight and $3 beers all evening.