A Strange Trip

IT ALL BEGAN RIGHT HERE IN THE HAIGHT with the opening of Magnolia Pub & Brewery in 1997. The roots of this long, strange trip go back to the late 80’s, or maybe decades before that, depending on how you look at it. Dave McLean discovered good beer while in college in Boston. He also discovered the Grateful Dead, moved to San Francisco (to the Haight, of course), started home brewing, and decided to open a brewery. Always a fan of cask-conditioned ale, the deal was sealed after Dave took a couple of mid-90’s brewery trips to England after his time studying brewing science at UC Davis. He came back not just with a deeper appreciation for cask beer but also a new love for the English pub and the powerful sense of community and local pride that they cultivate.


The original brewpub set out from day one to marry the hospitality and community of the great pubs of England with a quirky, artisan brewery shoe-horned into a tiny basement. Added to that was a love for the eccentricity, free thought, independence and creative expression birthed in the Haight decades earlier and a passion for making the food taste every bit as good as the beer.

The award-winning little brewery, seven barrels in size but short and squat to contend with the low basement ceilings, is still going strong more than 2000 batches later. The restaurant, a celebrated gastropub, continues to explore the best of local and seasonal sourcing within the Bay Area’s amazing foodshed while becoming an SF institution.