By: Brooklyn Di Raffaele
Nestled in Bernal Heights, San Francisco is the new brewpub on the block that will soon be your next favorite hangout.
Founded on the ideals of good beer and good food, friends Ben Buchanan, John Zirinsky and Jimmy Simpson founded Old Bus Tavern with its namesake inspired by John’s 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia. The trio created a brewpub with a new twist offering the spice of classic California comfort food, vintage vibes and craft beer. San Francisco has its share of high-end eateries and fancy menus that would impress any foodie, and while those restaurants do well for tourists and the adventurous spender Old Bus Tavern is grounded on the idea of being an attractive place to eat for every crowd. The menu features bar bites, shareable plates and entrees created by their head chef to incorporate fresh ingredients. “Classic California comfort food is about fresh and healthy tastes,” said Ben Buchanan. On the menus is their slow-cooked chuck chili seasoned with pequin chilies, pickled quail eggs and green onion spaetzle. Having a menu that shows off the tastes of California while catering to all types of eaters from vegetarians and vegans is one way that Old Bus is created a space for any appetite.
The guys of Old Bus Tavern wanted their restaurant to encapsulate the vintage feel and nostalgia associated with the VW vans and vinyl spinning on the record player of yesteryear while serving up great food along with 14 beers on tap, ranging from local Bay Area breweries and three to five in-house brewed beer. Ben and John have been experimenting with home brewing for over eight years and will be offering a few of their house-brewed beers on the menu that are incredibly unique, local and craft in every sip. The Old Bus Tavern Brewmasters base their beers on American and Belgian-style ales because it is a familiar and favorite style. Each beer on tap is incredibly particular with its own range of bold flavors using local ingredients like Fresno and Habanero chili peppers, basil and Meyer Lemons. Every ingredient was chosen individually for the flavor it would bring to the beer and for its use in the kitchen. “We wanted to have a synergy between the kitchen and brewery,” Ben said. Their chef uses the same peppers and spices found in the beer as well as the beer itself in the kitchen to create a cross-pollination between the two pieces of the restaurant instead of a disconnect.
Old Bus Tavern’s beers set themselves apart because of their artisan recipes and equipment. Expanding with their encouragement of using local energy, heritage and flavors to infuse the restaurant, the brewers of Old Bus Tavern looked to Portland Kettle Works to add more localities to their operation. Portland Kettle Works, located in Portland, Ore., handcrafts brewing equipment in their workshop providing brewers with top-quality gear made in the U.S.A. Ben and John are serious about their brews and that is why they brought in the equipment from Portland- because it is the best. “We heard great things about the high level of production quality and attention to detail in system design. PKW’s customer service sealed the deal for us,” Ben said. The innovative equipment and detailed support from the PKW team helped to establish the Old Bus Tavern brewery and bring more craft beer to California.
“We are focused on being a local spot for locals and friends to enjoy. We want to be a favorite neighborhood brewpub.”
With this ambitious goal in mind the guys of Old Bus Tavern have set the groundwork for an approachable and enjoyable brewpub.