Interview: Jesse Friedman (SodaCraft + Almanac Beer Co.)

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Brewmaster San Francisco


What’s your first beer memory?

I remember my dad giving me a taste of a homebrew when I was about 13. I think it was an IPA. I thought it was undrinkably bitter at the time, but I came around later.

Where do you like to drink and what do you like to drink when you’re not working?

San Francisco has a lot of places that are really dedicated to phenomenal beer. I think that Toronado is a classic institution. Getting abused by a bartender there is an important part of the San Francisco experience. The City Beer Store has a great selection and we’re really starting to find great restaurants with a nice selection of beers. I always look for any restaurant that has Moonlight on tap as a sign of great things.

How do you decide where your beer appears on tap?

We’re mostly in bottles, which lets us distribute smaller amounts to restaurants. And we’re really focusing on local restaurants that are doing seasonal, sustainable cooking. That is a very common thread in San Francisco, which makes our job easier. It’s the same sort of thing where we want to put our beer in restaurants with great food that are excited about this local community project.

Why the name Almanac?

We think it’s a great reflection of who were are. When we work with these farms, when we work with this produce, we really try to capture that season. And it becomes a record of that season. These blackberries, it’s just the tail end of the marionberry and olallieberry season and the very beginning of the Cherokee blackberry season, so our beer really reflects that. If we made it two weeks earlier or two weeks later, the berry balance would be a little different. It would be similar, but it wouldn’t be quite what it is.

What do you have coming up beer wise?

We are about to brew our next batch and we’re looking at stonefruit in our next batch for inspiration.

How will you maintain a balance between beer and soda?

Well, I do beer on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and I do the sodas on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and so far it seems to work out pretty well.

If you could only drink one more beer, what would it be?

I can’t say mine, can I?

It can’t be.

Maybe Orval, probably, because it’s such a phenomenal beer, and it changes so much from when it’s very young to when it’s been aged in the cellar. It’s so food friendly and bright and has all that complexity, that I just think it’s phenomenal. It’s also good with dinner.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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