For months, passersby on Third Street have peeked at the future Olfactory Brewing Co. at 20th Street in the Dogpatch district, curious as to the future of what was once the Triple Voodoo Brewing taproom. Finally, the new SF brewery is about to open this Friday, November 25th, 2022, and chances are that it will not disappoint.
Phil Emerson, who brewed at Sudwerk in Davis and most recently as long-time head brewer at Almanac Beer Co. in Alameda, along with co-owner Max Crango-Schneider, who also brewed at Sudwerk, before stints at Tilted Mash in Elk Grove and Almanac, have been busy filling tanks with new beers. Brewed on a 15-barrel system tucked back behind the taproom that was installed by a third partner, Trevor Allen, the beers are as well conceived as you’d expect from these brewing pedigrees. As is customary with attentive brewers, especially when working on new equipment, if you ask about them, Emerson may note that he already has in mind how he will tweak the next batches to make them better.
Brewing is a social craft, and the results of the first collaboration brew day for Olfactory will be coming soon. Emerson sought out Jen House of Thunder Island Brewing in Cascade Locks, OR, one of his personal influences for her deep understanding of hop quality. Their Pacific Northwest Pilsner is lagering for future release.
While the old Triple Voodoo taproom layout is barely modified, the new decor has a comfy microdose of psychedelic color and patterns. Despite the name, the Olfactory space gives little impression of a factory to provide a proper pun, which happily puts the focus back on the great aromas of the beers in the glass. With long tables made of slabs of gorgeous wood, exuberant plants, cushioned stools at the bar and splashes of blacklight-like colors, the concrete floors and cool grey walls provide a contrasting sense of chill, balancing the setting somewhere between sophisticated and wild. There are three TV’s for your sports viewing pleasure. The four owners were working on the space up until they opened their doors. Even at the industry friends preview event, purchases of tee shirts – especially the gorgeous tie-day versions – hinted that the 60s op art images will resonate with patrons.
Olfactory should open strong, with more offerings to come. When you visit, you’ll notice barrels and a large foeder waiting to be filled with beers again. Emerson has made exceptional mixed culture sour beers as well as big stouts and barleywines for Almanac, and he can be expected to continue his passion for what barrels can bring to beer as he establishes the flavorscape for Olfactory. A club is also in the works.
What of the future? Emerson mentions a goal of brewing just once a week and selling everything over the taproom bar as one envisioned mark of success. And then he and his partners note that finding a larger production facility with more space to work has already come to mind. Will the neighborhood embrace the new brewery? Will relative proximity to the basketball arena bring in new customers? Will beer tourists put it on their agendas? The patterns will emerge. For now, as is so common in modern SF, Olfactory will make lagers, IPAs and more in a tiny apartment-like space in the back so people can congregate out front in the taproom and its small front outdoor space.
The beers? Don’t skip the black lager and the pale ale as you explore the opening list. The lite lager with nelson and other new world hops was a wonderful fallback for when you want less alcohol while still happily inhabiting the world of craft beer flavors. And, yes, there are aromatic hazy IPA’s.
Thanks and good luck to partners Phil, Max, Trevor and Bobby for pulling this off. After too many months where closures were the news, SF needed this.
Explore Beer By BART: Use our acclaimed destination list of some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best beer places and their related transit info, so you can get out there to enjoy without driving.