Warm summer weather, a crack of the bat, and a swig of beer. Such is the sweet pleasure of a day at the park during baseball season.
However, in most cases, that swig of beer tends to be a swig of swill, a $9 “lite” beer that doesn’t satisfy this wave of craft beer drinkers.
Not at AT&T park though. Not at the home of the reigning World Series Champions San Francisco Giants.
Public House is the bar and restaurant attached to AT&T park – and it is most certainly a beer-centric bar. Before 2010, Public House was Acme Chophouse, a sit down steak and wine restaurant. Not exactly the day game baseball crowd. So, in late February of 2010, they pivoted, and the newfound craft beer bar has been met with enormous success.
I met Greg Stone, Public House beer director, on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. “Talk to me about your beer, and what you guys try to do here,” I asked. Greg’s response didn’t fail to impress.
Let’s start with the taps. Public House has 24 beers on tap. Its address is 24 Willie Mays Plaza, and there are 24 palm trees outside the Park. Not a coincidence.
While you will see one “macro” beer, the other 23 are all craft – almost all of them extremely local. Greg has a good reason to have a “macro” beer on tap:
“I carry Bud Light because for baseball we need a beer of that sort – an industrial lager / one of the big brands. I don’t want to turn people away if that’s what they need to have, but yes if we can convert (them to craft beer) then we’ve succeeded.”
And there are 50-70 different bottled craft beers in addition to those 24 taps. While the sheer number of craft beers available are impressive, it’s even more surprising to see which beers sell the most.
Hint: it’s not the macro beer. Public House has the much-heralded Russian River Brewery on tap, specifically the Blind Pig IPA. And boy does it sell.
“Blind Pig can fly out the door. We sold 11 kegs in four home games in October. For the opening homestand we sold 12 kegs of the Pig,” said Greg.
Not only is Public House offering the best beers of any baseball stadium, but they do so because San Francisco is a beer city. Public House isn’t trying to “cash in” on the craft beer rise – they are just doing an excellent job offering what their customers want. And they are doing it authentically.
Greg took me out of the bar and into another part of AT&T Park. Turns out, AT&T Park contains a beer cellar.
It was small, but contained kegs and bottles of many beer varieties, from smoked porters to holiday ales. During this past SF Beer Week, Public House held an event where they brought out cellared beer from 2010 and 2012, the years the Giants won it all. So yes, Public House is, and has been, pretty serious about craft beer.
Greg poured me a taste of a beer from an unmarked tap and asked what I thought it was.
The keg was brewed at Sierra Nevada in 2010, but had been stored in the Anchor Brewing cellar for the past two years. It was labeled as a special anniversary Imperial Stout. I had guessed it for a strong blonde.
“Nobody knows for sure what beer it is, and we had Sierra and Anchor staff both in to try it. This is what we do know: It was an ale, brewed in 2010, and pale / blonde in color. Whatever it was, it was to be served at an event at Anchor with Sierra.”
Some kind of collaboration? Who knows. But that’s the kind of beer that will periodically be on tap at Public House.
Interested in those one-off beers? Greg’s cask program has beer lovers drooling.
“We have two casks on at all times. One is a constant Billy Sunday’s Best Bitter from Magnolia brewed just for us, and the other we rotate. After having some problems with consistent supply, I purchased some empty firkins and send those off to brewers to fill as they see fit. Most of the time we get a custom spin on a beer, added hopping, bourbon soaked chips, chocolate, cherries, all kinds of fun stuff,” said Greg.
The best part about the great beer? Public House and AT&T Park are connected at the hip. So, any beer you buy at PH can be brought in to a Giants game. That means your beer selection at games goes up enormously – and rest assured, you’ll get better beer for cheaper prices in PH as opposed to less selection / more expensive prices in the park.
I think it’s been established that Public House and the San Francisco Giants have the best beer program out of any MLB team. But I would go a step further and recognize Public House as one of the best beer bars our city has to offer.
Though it is part of AT&T Park, it is also its own entity. It’s open when AT&T Park isn’t. Public House offers great local beers, uses a cellar, and gets firkins filled with the brewmaster’s choice. It deserves to be mentioned with the rest of this city’s great beer bars.
While inextricably connected to AT&T and the Giants, at the end of the day, Public House is first and foremost a great damn beer bar.