When the brut IPA, taglined as San Francisco’s newest beer style, began to hit internet headlines last spring, the reaction was polarizing.
This new type of IPA, defined by its fruity hop aroma, effervescence, and dryness — provided by the addition of a type of amylase enzyme — was a respite from the yeasty hazebombs proliferating on beer lists around town.
Immediately, some leery brewers publicly challenged its authenticity as a substyle. Others, interest piqued, sought to attempt their own versions after reaching out to its creator, Social Kitchen and Brewery’s Kim Sturdavant, for his methodology.
And Kim was there to field those calls, emails and sometimes, Facebook messages, as they poured in. First, inquiries came from brewers just around the greater Bay Area. Then, brewers were contacting him from Southern California, and then the East Coast, and eventually Europe and South America.
But Kim was known around the Bay Area long before the brut. A GABF winner drawn to easy-to-drink German- and English-style beers, he helped make Social Brewing not just a great neighborhood hangout, but a beer destination in the competitive Bay Area market.
Social’s brewery arm is run by just a couple people. Kim, who heads it up, handles the paperwork and planning and oversees the brewing on the second story of the brewpub-restaurant in the Inner Sunset District of San Francisco, by Golden Gate Park.
It’s here at Social where I meet Kim one afternoon in the late summer. It’s before the restaurant opens, so it’s much quieter than it usually is, as the restaurant staff prepare for their shifts.