When our friends Danielle, Kelli and family met up with us in San Francisco, they took us for a drink at a local lesbian bar, reputedly (and amazingly) the only one left in San Francisco. Along the route from our Castro apartment, I spied Cerveceria de MateVeza and we decided to return on our last night in town.
The bartender Brendan was clearly used to answering questions while pouring these unique beers, so we took advantage and moved into a couple open seats at the very small bar to drink and chat. As of last summer, the 20 gallon brewery had been around almost a year and a half. They have a couple flagship beers—Yerbe Mate IPA and Morpho Herbal Ale—that are brewed off site with drafts beers brewed on site (I think, or some similar combination). The only food is El Porteno empanadas, some vegetarian, which were excellent and made us wonder why this wasn't our late night stop every night. Oh well.
MateVeza is worth a visit because of the mind blowing freshness of their brewing ideas. Avoiding traditional beer ingredients, their beers are balanced with spices like the IPA replaces hops with Yerbe Mate. Very unusual and amazing flavors out of these beers, and I haven't felt so adventuresome in my drinking for a very long time. The names and ingredients are not a standard part of my world, so each beer was a leap of faith, an effort that were mostly rewarded.
|Server Brendan w IPA (full) and Vintage Morpho.|
Beer and empanadas board (right). Brewery
can be in the corner.
Fernet and Coke: supposed to be a beery replicate of an Italian liquor called Fernet mixed with Coke. Very herbal and fun. Brewer/bartender said it was blended to reduce the first versions herbal character. Not being familiar with the drink, I can only suppose it's accuracy.
Prodigal Saison: spicy nose with a fruity center to a dry finish. Awesome white lace. We both liked this one a lot.
Yerba Mate IPA: rust orange beer with a white head that lingers a bit. Floral nose with a pretty spice fruitiness. Dry finish that follows a light but not thin bodied beer with a slight caramel in the center. Brewed at Mendocino.
Vintage Morpho: aged version of their regular herbal ale that was fun to drink. Brendan let us sample of sour mash version of Morpho with a change of herbs that was still fermenting but showed promise. The heart of the Morpho could be clearly tasted in the new version, but it was a clear and interesting departure.
As a veteran beer hunter, I can often guess a lot about what's in my glass from website construction, atmosphere and descriptions. Unfortunately, drinking a new place can sometimes be less than surprising or inspirational. MateVeza is a place to stop when in San Francisco simply because it's so far off the beer map that it will return a wizened old drinker to a time when every beer was an adventure.