Hapa's Brewing Company


Hapa’s Brewing Company Signs Lease

It’s official! Hapa’s Brewing Company has a home (Kinda. More on that later)! Earlier this week we signed the lease for our space in San Jose. After a long negotiation, the signing itself was somewhat uneventful – lots of initialing and one signature is all it took.



Now why do we “kinda” have a home?  Our lease is contingent on the city approving a conditional use permit.  This permit will allow us to build our taproom so all you craft beer drinkers can have a pint in our building.  Stay tuned for more updates!

By in Breweries, Culture 0

A Look Back on SF Beer Week

It’s been a week since the tap lines have gone dry for San Francisco Beer Week.  The Hapa’s crew has finally recovered enough to write about it even though we are no longer on speaking terms with our livers.  In the ten days that made up the ode to beer we were able to attend seven glorious events. 

Our first Beer Week adventure took us to Healthy Spirits for an exclusive bottle release of Ale Industries Someone Talked. 

Beer geeks united at Healthy Spirits for this exclusive bottle release

Later that night we paid a visit to our favorite brewpub in the city: Thirsty Bear for their cask beer and cheese pairing event.  Local breweries supplied their fine cask conditioned ales to be paired with artisan cheeses and breads. 

Beer and cheese, ‘nough said

Our next two events found us in San Francisco’s SOMA district where we enjoyed a beer brunch at 21st Amendment and shot over to City Beer Store to visit with the brewers of Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Beer brunch at 21st Amendment and brews at City Beer Store

We got a chance to talk shop with Rev, the charismatic head brewer for Pizza Orgasmica, at a meet the brewer event at their Embarcadero Center location.  After a couple pints and a couple slices it was off to the Mission for a Russian River tap takeover at Pi Bar.

Meet the brewer at Pizza Orgasmica and Russian River tap takeover at Pi Bar

Our last event led us to Public House located at the home of the San Francisco Giants: AT&T Park.  Not your typical ballpark bar, Public House has a wide selection of excellent craft beer and for SF Beer Week they pulled out all the stops – hosting a tap takeover featuring Stone Brewing Co. and Bear Republic.

Stone Brewing Co. and Bear Republic tap takeover

Overall an incredible week of craft beer.  So many great options to explore the best of Local Bay Area breweries and beyond.  Already looking forward to next year!

By in Breweries, Culture 0

SF Beer Week!

It’s that time of year again.  No we’re not talking about the February 14th holiday to honor the early Christian martyr named St. Valentine.  We’re talking about San Francisco Beer Week.  Starting today local bars, restaurants, and breweries will be hosting events all over our City by the Bay and you can bet that the Hapa’s crew will be at many of these functions.  We’re particularly excited to visit our friends at Thirsty Bear tomorrow night for their Cask and Quesos beer and cheese tasting. 

We strongly encourage all of you to check our some of these events, and if you’re lucky you just might be able to try a pint of a special beer brewed by the members of the San Francisco Brewers Guild.

Thirsty Bear’s own Brenden Dobel samples a special SF Beer Week Brew

By in Breweries, News 0

Congrats to Local Breweries

The Great American Beer Festival was held last weekend in Denver, Colorado.  Hundreds of craft breweries from around the country came to strut their stuff and compete for medals in 83 beer categories.

Many of our local San Francisco Bay Area Breweries made the trip to the Rockies and came away with an impressive haul.  In total these breweries took home eleven medals including gold for Marin Brewing Co.’s Three Flowers IPA and 21st Amendment’s Hqt and Amber Waves.

Congrats to all the winners and keep churing out those great beers!

Complete list of Bay Area Winners:

Marin Brewing Company
– Category 10: Rye Beer – Three Flowers IPA – Gold

21st Amendment Brewery
– Category 15: Indigenous Beer – Hqt – Gold
– Category 53: American-style Amber – Amber Waves – Gold

Triple Rock Brewery
– Category 42: Baltic-style Porter – Puddy Porter – Bronze

Iron Springs Pub & Brewery
– Category 43: Golden or Blond Ale – Kent Lake Kolsch – Bronze

Napa Smith Brewery
– Category 47: English-style IPA – Napa Smith Organic IPA – Silver

Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery
– Category 56: Ordinary or Special Bitter – New Speedway Bitter – Silver
– Category 56: Ordinary or Special Bitter – Bonnie Lee’s Best Bitter – Bronze

Bear Republic Brewing Company
– Category 62: American-style Black Ale – Black Racer – Bronze

Black Diamond Brewing Company
– Category 72: Belgian-style Strong Specialty Ale – The Twelve – Bronze

Firehouse Brewery and Grill
– Category 73: Brown Porter – Firehouse Porter – Silver

By in Breweries 0

Here’s to the Next 15 Years

Thanks to all who came out to last night’s Thirsty Bear 15th anniversary celebration; a great crowd, great food, and of course great beer.  On tap for the first time was the brewpub’s single release Imperial Red Ale, which you may remember was brewed with the help of the Hapa’s crew.

15th Anniversary Ale: now on tap!

Naturally, our first (and second, and third) pint was the beer we helped make and we couldn’t have been happier with the results.  The beer was very fresh smelling with nice piney and grassy hop notes.  Sweetness from the 1,100 pounds of malt and added Belgian Candi Syrup and Turbinado Sugar hit the tongue followed by clean hop bitterness that perfectly balanced the beer.  The finish was dry, as expected, and slightly warming from the 9.7% ABV.  This one won’t last long so be sure to make your way to Thirsty Bear before it’s gone!

Get it while it lasts

A special shout out to Thirsty Bear GM Tim Mullins and Brewmaster Brenden Dobel for hosting an awesome party!

By in Breweries, Reviews 0

Brews On the Bay

Before 1920 San Francisco had a strong beer culture.  Like many places elsewhere in the country,  the Golden Gate City saw its thriving brewing tradition crippled by Prohibition.  The resurgence of craft beer in the late 80s and early 90s proved the beer loving culture is alive and well as breweries popped up in this scenic city.

The San Francisco Brewer’s Guild, whose members include the eight breweries in the city, was created to ensure craft beer continues to prosper.  Brews on the Bay is the Guild’s annual celebration of San Francisco beer.  Beer lovers from far and wide gathered on the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien to sample the best of the eight Guild Breweries.  Of course the Hapa’s crew was there to take it all in. 

The walk up to the ship is impressive.  The S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien is a fully functioning Liberty ship that served the U.S Navy in WWII.  It looks like it could still kick some serious butt.

S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien

Our first stop was Magnolia Pub and Brewery’s station where we sampled the Blue Bell Bitter.  Notes of black tea, fresh hay, sweet malt, and a slight nuttiness were prevalent.  A sip revealed strong malt notes with caramel and a slight smokiness.

Some of Magnolia’s menu

Next we stopped by to say ‘hi’ to our friends at Thirsty Bear where we sampled pretty much everything they were pouring, all of which were delicious.  We made our way to Social Kitchen and Brewery’s pouring table where we had their Old Time Alt.  It was peppery and grassy in the nose, aromas that were mirrored in the taste along with roasted nuts and hints of fresh lettuce.

Thirsty Bear’s Brenden Dobel                                            A couple of Social Kitchen’s Beers

We then sampled Speakeasy Ales and Lagers’ Dolores Pale Ale (a limited release) and Beach Chalet Brewery and Restaurant’s Flieshhacker Stout.  Our last stop was 21st Amendment Brewery’s station where we indulged in their Back in Black Black IPA.  Their take on the Black IPA was maltier than expected in the nose with some citrus and a hint of roasted grains.  Citrus was prominent in the taste as was a caramel maltiness with a burnt toast finish.

Speakeasy’s beer list                                                         21st Amendment’s Back in Black

The beer flowed freely at this great event and we got brush shoulders with the beer lovers and beer makers of San Francisco.  A can’t miss event for beer fans of the Bay Area.

By in Breweries, Brewing 0

Thirsty Bear 15th Anniversary Celebration

A little over a week ago we brewed a special batch of beer with the Thirsty Bear crew.  This batch has a higher calling than just being delicious.  The brew, being called an imperial red ale for lack of a better name, will help commemorate the brewpub’s 15th anniversary.

Thirsty Bear is hosting a celebratory get together at the brewpub on Tuesday, September 13th.  The imperial red ale will be making its debut and tapas will abound.  If you’re in the San Francisco area we strongly suggest stopping by.  Be there or be sober and hungry!  Thirsty Bear Brewing Co, 661 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105.

By in Breweries, Brewing 0

Brew Day at Thirsty Bear Brewing Co.

San Francisco is home to a thriving beer culture.  Between specialty stores, beer tours, and craft breweries, the city has plenty to offer the beer aficionado.  One of our favorite beer Meccas is Thirsty Bear Brewing Co.

Located in San Francisco’s SOMA District, and certified organic, Thirsty Bear’s menu has a beer and/or Spanish inspired dish for everyone’s taste.  This year marks the brewpub’s 15th anniversary and to celebrate brewmaster Brenden Dobel decided to whip up a special single release batch.

The Hapa’s crew are regulars of Thirsty Bear so we were ecstatic when Brenden agreed to let us help brew their 15th anniversary batch.  Not sure what to expect and nervous that homebrew skills wouldn’t translate to a commercial brewery, we showed up ready to contribute in any way and learn from the masters.

For this limited edition beer, Brenden decided to think outside the style guideline and brew something new.  The recipe called for 1,100 pounds of pilsner and pale malt with additions of turbinado sugar and Belgian candi syrup.  This added sugars will kick up the alcohol content and added a nice coppery brown coloring.  This being harvest season, fresh wet hops were also used at the end of the boil.  The end result of this brew will be a well balanced beer with a hoppy backbone and amble ABV.

The first order of business was to change into some appropriate footwear.  Galoshes are a brewers best friend as things tend to get wet when you’re dealing with nearly 500 gallons of beer. 

Functional AND stylish

Next, we opened the grain bags and turned on the mill and auger.  Grain was fed into the mill and transferred to the mash tunwhere it was mixed with water at 170 degrees.  The brewery filled with the familiar sweet smells that permeate the kitchen on homebrew days.  This was a single infusion mash at 150 degrees. 

The mill and grain bags            Doughing in                                                         The mash

After mashing for an hour wort was recirculated until it cleared and was pumped to the kettle.  The sparge sprinkler was turned on and the grain bed rinsed of every last bit of sugar. 

As the kettle filled and wort brought to a boil, I had chance to speak with Brenden about brewing and beer.  Very interesting to get the opinions of someone who lives beer.  When asked about the future of craft brewing he was amazed with how far the industry has come since the 80s and excited to see where it will go. The boom in barrel aging and souring is just the tip of the iceberg.  He foresees more experimentation small breweries pop up nationwide.  It certainly is a good time to be a beer lover.

With a rolling boil in the kettle, the first addition of Magnum hops was added.  These will impart much of the flavor to this beer and are known for their clean bitterness.  The next addition was beautiful citrus smelling Cluster hops at 30 minutes.  Turbinado sugar also went into the kettle at 30 minutes followed by the Belgian candi syrup 45 minutes into the boil.  The last ingredient added was the fresh hops which were packed into nylon mesh bags and stuffed into the kettle.

Cluster hop addition                                   Fresh hops                                               Looking like a proud father

The wort was whirlpooled and allowed to settle making it easier to transfer sediment free liquid to the heat exchanger and fermentation tank.  Glycol and cold water were used in the heat exchanger to rapidly chill the hot wort.   We had previously pitched the yeast so all that was left to do was clean up.

1,100 pounds of grain doesn’t throw itself into compost bins, so it was up to us to clean out the mash tun.  Using a rake and old fashioned elbow grease the spent barley was scooped out and sent to the city for composting.

Spent grains                                                                        Scooping out all that barley

And so now we play the waiting game.  Two weeks from now Thirsty Bear will celebrate their anniversary and pour this beer.  Of course we’ll be there and hope that you’ll join us!

By in Breweries, Culture 0

Don Sam Adams

The Rose Bowl, Plato, James Brown, and Don Vito Corleone.  What do all these have in common?  They are all the grandfather of their respective field.  Whether their purview be NCAA bowl games, democracy, soul, or the mob, all are innovators and leaders.  The name Samuel Adams is also synonymous with innovation and leadership.  Depending on the context, Samuel Adams is either a grandfather of America or craft beer.  On the one hand Samuel Adams was a politician and leader of the American Revolution; on the other Samuel Adams is brewed by America’s largest craft brewery.  It is the second of these that we discuss in this posting.

Famous Boston Lager

Sam Adams, produced by Boston Beer Company, was first brewed in 1984 in Boston, MA.  Today the company produces no less than 21 styles of beer including its famous Boston Lager and other favorites like their Irish Red Ale and Sam Summer Ale.  The company still produces a small percentage of their 1.6 million barrels (1 barrel = 31 gallons) in their Boston Brewery, and a trip to the Bay State afforded the Hapa’s crew a chance to tour their facility (and sample their goods).

The Boston facility kicks out approximately 160,000 barrels of beer using a copper and stainless steel boil / mash kettle and matching lauter tun.  Beer ferments in four large conical tanks and ages in conditioning tanks.  Special brews are allowed to age in wine or bourbon barrels.

Mash / boil kettle (R) and lauter tun                     Fermentation tanks

As the granddaddy of craft brewing Boston Beer Company is not only at the cutting edge of creating great beer, they are also influential on the very definition of what a craft beer is.  The 1.6 million barrels produced in 2010 were at the very high end of the 2 million barrel threshold that defined craft brewing.  A recent decision by the Brewers Association knocked that number up to 6 million barrels.  Additionally, legislation is being pushed through Congress to increase the definition of “small brewery” to 6 million barrels.  Breweries who fall into this category enjoy tax breaks.

Did Boston Brewing Co. make an offer Congress couldn’t refuse?  We’re not sure, and we’re not asking any question.  Hapa’s Brewing has long believed that horse heads should stay on horse bodies and not in peoples’ beds.  Don Corleone’s got nothing on Don Sam Adams.

By in Breweries, Reviews 0

San Francisco Beer Tour

Benjamin Franklin isn’t just the portly old gentleman with the receding hairline on the hundred dollar bill.  He also was also an inventor, politician, author, diplomat, and beer lover.  He was once quoted as saying that “beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”  The same could be said about the weather we enjoyed in San Francisco last weekend as the Hapa’s crew embarked on a beer tour with the aptly named Brewery Adventures.

The all-inclusive tour provided round trip transportation between three of San Francisco’s best breweries in addition to tastings, a behind the scenes tour, and hours of entertainment.  Led by co-founders and beer lovers Elana and Amy, the tour stopped at Thirsty Bear Brewing Co., Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant, and Magnolia Pub & Brewery.

Our first stop was Thirsty Bear in the city’s SOMA District.  We were treated to several beers including an IPA, brown ale, wheat beer, and a vanilla infused ale.  Thirsty Bear’s brewmaster then invited us to check out their 15 barrel brewing system.  The brewery uses a steam heated hot liquor tank and kettle and features six conical fermentation tanks.  Of note were the four wine and bourbon barrels used to age the brewery’s special ales.

Brew kettle (L) and Mash Tun                           Fermentation tank                           Aging barrels

Our next stop was Beach Chalet which over looks beautiful Ocean Beach on San Francisco’s Pacific Coast.  Here, we were allowed to taste four of the brewery’s beers including an IPA, a stout, a red ale, and the brewer’s special: a smokey scottish ale. All were very good beers, but the IPA stood out as not only the best from Beach Chalet, but the best from the day.

Our last stop took us to the famous Haight District where we enjoyed a flight of Magnolia’s finest.  The brewpub is known for is cask aged ales and several of these were included in our tasting.  These beers undergo secondary fermentation and conditioning in the cask which results in a lightly carbonated beer with more subtle flavors.

We had a really great time and wonderful experience with the Brewery Adventures group and highly recommend checking them to anyone living in the San Francisco Bay Area.