Eddie Gobbo used to run a lab, but it was for Big Pharm. Now he's running a different kind of lab, and "feels human again" -- he's helped start Harmonic Brewing in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. His old job was "missing the artistic side" and now he's "a lot more social."
He's doing with this with two of his best friends, the friends he has been homebrewing with for ten years. Ten iterations of seven beers that Jon Verna and Eric Tisch helped brew and taste launched Harmonic Brewing. And though Tisch has experience at Avery Brewing -- which makes the strongest beers in America, on average -- that's not going to be the style at Harmonic. No beer topped six percent ABV that day and that's part of the plan.
Their spin fits their name. "We're trying to do very balanced beers," said Gobbo. "The name Harmonic -- we're big into music. I play bass, Jon plays guitar, and we're also huge music fans. And that reflects our beers, they're going to be balanced. Even our hoppiest beers aren't going to blow anyone's palates out. We want people to come here and taste all of our beers, and really taste each one. Our alcohol levels are a little lower, 5-6%, even if we do a couple of big boys as one-offs. Our mantra is balance."
The group is "all in" on their venture -- their money, plus some family, and a bank loan, secured them a ten-year sublease and a remodel on their nice little taproom in the southern part of the Dogpatch, close to AT&T stadium and the Giants.
The neighborhood is growing with them, as the recently opened Wine House provides foot traffic, and the Dogpatch Saloon a place to sell their wares. "It's an awesome, awesome community. It still has that industrial feel, and there are cool places opening up," Gobbo says, and as for people living in the area, "it's more than you think," with more on the way.
To start, the taproom is open Mondays through Thursdays. "We're distributing to bars and restaurants around the city, so Monday through Wednesdays is for brewing and getting the beers to bars," said Gobbo. "We're not shooting to be Sierra Nevada, we don't have a big growth model. We're going to be the local place. Breweries should be like bakeries, places where you go to get the freshest stuff to eat and drink." Their t-shirts are made down the street, they sell popcorn from a local vendor, and they are rooted in the community.
Coming soon is a Kettle Sour, a fresh saison with bacteria added to the boil kettle. It should be tart without being sour, but it doesn't sound like these guys love the hassle or the taste of Brettanomyces anyway ("I'm terrified of it."). In the brewery now is an English bitter with a hint of sour cherries that comes on slowly as you drink it. Their flagship IPA has the malt, bitter and fruit (nelson) turned up -- but not to 11. The fruit comes in the nose, then comes the malt, and then you taste the fruit again more near the end. Their nitro stout also becomes more complex as you sit with it.
And that's their style. They're not going to find something they like and say "someone likes a little, let's put in a lot." They'd rather make really drinkable beers that you'll enjoy all the way through. Especially if you're a neighbor.