“I look at Old Devil Moon, the well-thought out and executed new craft beer and cocktail bar in Outer Mission/Bernal Heights, and what bewitches me is the varied and carefully curated 20-tap selection of mostly California beer with 8 taps dedicated to wine and even liquor and coffee, the tasteful New Orleans/ Louisiana-tinged ambiance, the outdoor patio, the knowledgeable bar/beertenders, the attention to presentation and detail and the tasty food offerings.
New to the neighborhood but six years in the making, ODM is the brainchild of cicerone, Certified Beer Judge and SF Homebrewers Guild founder Chris Cohen.
I started what turned out to be a long evening with some hushpuppies with whipped honey butter (fab, $5.00) and then began my beerventure with my favorite style, IPA. I Firestone Walker’s Luponic Distortion 3 with unnamed experimental hops (5.9%, $4.00 for 10 oz. pour) was my least favorite of all the beers I had, but that’s ok as things just got better. I tried Luponic Distortion 1 at a beer festival but was unimpressed and thought this version would be better. Despite the presence of some citrus I still found it a little lacking in flavor, missing the more pronounced and flavorful hop profile I’ve gotten used to (or been spoiled by) in the current Bay Area and West Coast craft beer revolution.
My second favorite style after IPA is imperial stout (especially barrel-aged), and my next sampling was Barbary Barrel Noir from San Francisco’s excellent Almanac (10.2%, $8.00 for 10 oz. pour). This boozy BA bomb has a well-balanced bouquet of chocolate, cocoa, raisins, vanilla and of course bourbon, but the chili is so subtle as to be barely noticeable. Complex, exquisite, and local. This was served nicely chilled and got better as it warmed up.
Wanting to branch out, I tried the Saison Bernice from the much-lauded Sante Adairius of Santa Cruz (6.5%, $8.00 for 10 oz pour). Although I am still getting used to saisons and farmhouse styles, I am confident that this 100% brett-fermented brew is an excellent example thereof, and was also delicious. Lemon peel/zest, a touch of tropical fruit with strong acidity, clean and crisp with a dry finish. Although this has a higher ABV than most saisons, I think this style is my new session beer, best enjoyed in hot weather.
Living in London in the late 1980s I had my share of ESB but looking back I think a lot of it was mediocre, pre CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) stuff. If you want to try a glorious Bay Area re-interpretation of the classic UK style, I highly recommend Freewheel’s FSB on cask (4.7%, $7.00), served in a proper 19 oz. imperial British pint glass. Brewed on the Peninsula and served at 52 degrees as opposed to the traditional 55, this is without a doubt the best pint of bitter I’ve ever had in my life. Delicious Maris Otter biscuit malt, oatmeal cookie, caramel and a touch of Werther’s. Super fresh and super deelish.
In addition to the aforementioned hushpuppies, I had a nice shrimp and oyster Po’Boy ($15.00), part of their simple but quality food menu. Prices are as those of a neighborhood bar (cocktails from $8.00 – $11.00 and most pints $6.00) and are excellent for what is being served.