Its name speaks to tipplers and brew connoisseurs alike. The 2019 edition of San Francisco Beer Week starts Saturday, and The Monk’s Kettle has all kegs on their place. Its opening event, dubbed United Sours of America, has gathered so much enthusiasm that the tavern, open at 11 a.m., will serve breakfast sandwiches for those waiting in line starting at 10.
Five years ago, back when The Monk’s Kettle at 3141 16th St. had just started participating in the festival, craft breweries were only starting to get really into the exploration and marketing of the sour beers. “Hoppiness and IPAs were all the rage, and I guess it wasn’t much of a twist if you’re used to the bitterness, to move on to sours,” explained Christian Albertson, one of the owners.
These days, Albertson said, it takes some curation to cover 20 taps with over a hundred “quality American sours.” This year, a mix of deliveries from coveted breweries, vintage and cellar collections added up to a very fruity selection. Sours from Colorado, Maine, Oklahoma, and all over the West Coast will be on draft on Saturday, plus 8 other non-sours.
For a general public used to the low-ABV, lonely sour on tap, Saturday’s selection promises a different experience.
“A lot of breweries are doing kettle sours, which is a faster process. What we mainly do is barrel-aged sours, which takes more time, and is more expensive, but all the time in the barrel jacks up the ABV,” Albertson said.
Although the sour fest only lasts a day, The Monk’s Kettle will remain open on Super Bowl Sunday, and has other activities scheduled for the next week, including a Triple IPA Fest (Feb. 6), The Abyss Vertical (Feb. 9) and Cider Sunday (Feb. 10). All of those events are being tailored year-to-year to the changing public of the Mission and beyond.
“Back in 2012, the trend was towards rare, pricy stuff,” he said. “Now it’s more value-driven, to a beer 90 percent of the way there, but without sacrificing integrity, for the younger-ish crowd that now lives here.”
A healthy, often hoppy, and very sour balance to achieve.
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