It’s the Summer of Love, Again

I was ten years old during the actual 1967 Summer of Love, yearningly watching from afar in the not-so-counterculturally engaged town of Northfield, Minnesota. I used occasionally to hang out at the local college where my dad taught German language and literature, and from a couple of students there I got the address of a spot on St. Marks Place that sold buttons, posters and other more purposeful paraphernalia through the mail. I would mark the buttons I wanted on their mimeographed sheets and send off money I’d earned from delivering the evening Minneapolis Star and Sunday Tribune. There were a lot of variations on peace signs as well as clever slogans, and my list was occasionally excised by my dad. “LSD: Better Living Through Chemistry” was one that fell under his veto action. One of my favorites was of Uncle Sam pointing a revolver. That one I proudly wore.

TIME Magazine, Nov. 7, 1969

There was an inevitability in those days to California. I remember the cover of the November 7, 1969 issue of Time magazine which arrived at our house. “California: Here It Comes!” a banner announced across a colorful Peter Max-like collage of iconic images: a surfer, a sleek car, a bathing babe, a bunch of grapes, some funny psychedelic glasses and even (I know now, but didn’t then) the spires of Simon Rodîa’s Watts Towers. I read the articles chronicling various aspects of the California coolness of it all, and pined for a trip, preferably a relocation, to the West Coast. I first visited in 1975, following a summer of orchard work in Washington State, driving the length of the state, north to south, in a Ford Pinto with a couple of friends. I was driving when we entered San Francisco from Marin, with the sun breaking through and suddenly vanquishing a morning fog. We stayed with my friend’s family in Santa Clara and rode the brand new BART trains into the City. We ate abalone in Chinatown, rode a cable car without paying, and of course visited Haight-Ashbury.

Well who knew that one day I’d actually be living here, operating a brewery a Willie Mays toss from that storied intersection, and brewing a beer paying homage to the summer of 1967, the Summer of Love? It promises to be a tasty brew, an IPA bursting with Chinook and Strata hops. And it’s an absolute natural for the neighborhood. I’ve come to really enjoy sitting, on days when I’m not brewing—and even during breaks when I am—at the end of the communal table, just watching the world of the Haight slide by. It’s always interesting, the mix of people you see, many of whom pop in for a beer or some lunch: tourists foreign and domestic, families with adolescent kids walking ahead or behind their parents, and of course the neighborhood denizens—crusties from Buena Vista park with their dogs, and the wearers of brocade and leather, sequins, feathers and embroidery, a whole lot of whom would have fit right in—or in some cases clearly probably did—back then, fifty-odd years ago, when the whole thing happened.

It’s a groovy aside worth mentioning that the very name Summer of Love has brought about a nice little bit of cooperation between us and our friends at Victory Brewing, way out in Pennsylvania. It’s kind of surprising to me that Magnolia, given its original location in the Haight, hadn’t brewed a beer called Summer of Love until just a couple of years ago. Seems to me it should have been one of the first things out of the gate, but whatever. Victory brews a beer called Summer Love, and anybody who’s been paying attention knows that in recent years the name wars have intensified. Breweries are falling all over each other with beers named for various cultural references that occur and recur, resulting in some cases in a bit of bad blood as one player or another claims prior use, trademarks notwithstanding, and takes another to task. But anyway.

When we wanted to brew Summer of Love again, and possibly eventually put it into a package, I decided I’d better float the idea to my friend Bill Covaleski at Victory. To my mind the mere addition of the word “of” to the name gives the two beer names a completely different sense, but you can’t assume that others will see it that way, especially if they have a trademark and might be able to just say no. Victory is a national brand, and we’re just a locally distributed mark, with nothing at all available outside of California. I won’t bore you with the steps, but I will say that I very much appreciate their willingness to allow us to proceed. It’s a good thing, too. It’s a delicious beer.

This isn’t the first time I’ve overlapped, name-wise, with Bill. Years ago, when I worked at Big Time Brewery and Alehouse in Seattle—an offshoot, it happens, of Triple Rock—we brewed a Red IPA called Scarlet Fire, conceived by my assistant at the time, a confirmed Deadhead, referencing the sequence of songs in “the shows.” Well, Bill’s version was a smoked beer, and there were others, everybody concerned flying their flags, content to let it all flow where name use was concerned. And we’re all still friends.

So love, it turns out, is what keeps us in Craft together. Come by either location for a pint of Summer of Love. We’ll be releasing the beer on July 16th at the Haight Street pub, with beer specials and the hope that sunshine will favor us. There’s nothing quite like a seat outside at Haight and Masonic. Time stands still, and even turns back, for just a little while.