Sunday, October 31, 2010

Magnolia Pub & Brewery, Haight-Ashbury

Ringing that bluebell
Caught up in sunlight
Come on out singing and I'll walk you in the sunshine
Come on honey, come along with me

Lyrics from Sugar Magnolia; Robert C. Hunter, Robert Hall Weir


You know, it's pretty easy feelin' the vibe evoked by those lyrics--you might've felt `em yourself: mayhap feelin' the sweep of a warm October day passing over you...

Standing on your baby's porch, sunlight filtering down through the trees, moving across you, catching and warming your arm, releasing and moving across your cheek...

Then, ringing your honey's bell, there she is smilin'! You happy to be asking her to go out for a walk in the fabulously brilliant sunshine. Arm in arm.

Remember those days...

Well those lyrics were going through the `ed, and it was just like that when we got off the bus in the Haight and walked back a block or so to the Magnolia Pub & Brewery for a bite `n pint.

(When you see this on a wall, you'll know you're getin' close.)

Like the dream, there it was situated on the corner of Haight and Masonic, the structure of a certain age, this superlative day the door wide-open, pleasantly beckoning to come in and have a look around.

Passing through the corner doorway crowned by a stained glass transom declarative of the building's address at 1398 Haight Street, the pub's bright and ethereal, with plenty of windows for late afternoon sunlight to beam in from two sides. Tables and chairs arranged in front and to the right and booths and semi-banquettes down the left side. A linear bar standing along the back wall with the kitchen behind that. Another lustrous wide pine bar top similar to the one over at the Monk's Kettle. We sure don't see `em like this in NEPA!

Almost all of the beers on the menu are their own, brewed below Haight Street. Look closely and you'll see a smattering of guest beers--as it should be, natch. Major styles give good account of themselves but overall there seems to be a definite English ale bent to the menu with a Stout, a Porter, a couple of Bitters, a Pale Ale and a couple of IPAs on the menu. This menu was from last week--hit their site to see what's on today!
There was only a pico-second hesitation before selecting and ordering up a flight of six of their beers: five from the casks--one depreciating sawbuck was all it took.

Don't wait: you might only get five a few minutes from now!

They arrived in approximately a pool rack, and a half hour later, after talking the ears off a fellow beer aficionado visiting from Boston, we had cleared the table of all six and could reflect on the experience. Overall, we favored the High Time Harvest Ale hopped with Simcoe®. (We assumed the hops were fresh but didn't ask. Duh.) A beautiful light amber color welcomes, glinting through the tall cylindrical glass topped by a thin head. Subtly nice aroma and hop flavor, by no means overwhelming, with a clean finish and decent lacing--very nice overall. We'd characterize this as a pretty darn good harvest ale.

Next favorite was the the Long Break. The others in the rack were more English standards, of which we're not a super-huge fan. Still, good drinkable session beers all around. Bright, fresh, crisp and clean. Very British (sans the bad teeth,) and the perfect complement to fine conversation. The ten-spot turned out to be a good investment for a chance to sample six of the brewer's best work. The flight card's a great idea as a reminder to what you're drinking--any place offering flights should have something like this.


`Bout this time we were feelin' it and decided to have the aforementioned bite. As it was to be, we discovered the food menu here, creative and unique. Both the food and the design of the physical menu on which it's presented.

The menu's pages are bound within a mid to heavyweight dark front and back cover. The front cover is cleanly embellished with the establishment's name and printed on the inside of the back cover is a brew house worksheet--just the sort of thing that we were pondering as the waiter returned for the third time to ask if we were ready to order!

We didn't wish to spoil our appetites too much so we chose an order of house-cut fries and chicken andouille from the bar menu.


After we finished, the press of places to go and things to do propelled us (as they often do) up and out, and we left and reentered the brilliant sunshine.

Overall, we'd have to say that the Magnolia Pub and Brewery was impressive all-around. The beers were top-quality and the savory munchies we tried were satisfying and top-notch--the likes of which you won't find just everywhere. The bar-tenders were attentive. The pub was popular, busy, and buzzing with vibrant flavors. Ladies room clean and accommodating according to S--this would most assuredly be an excellent place to meet for a first date. Not insignificant is the convenience of reaching this gastropub: several Bus and MUNI routes pass nearby: 6, 7, 37, 43, and 71.

Highly recommended.

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