July Updates - Building a Foundation


In many ways July has been a month of building a solid base underneath many aspects of Black Sands. Particularly there has been some structural work required for the foundation of the building. The work is a required step to ensure the building is safe both for our customers and for the longevity of Black Sands. We are currently in the phase of drawing up the plans and approving them with the city. Approval of the plans and construction on the foundation is expected to start early August. This does unfortunately set our timeline back, but the work is essential to creating a safe environment for everyone. We are absolutely committed to our building and the neighborhood, and hope to have this work done quickly and safely to open Black Sands for all to enjoy.  

Shoring in place while building foundation is repaired and strengthened

Shoring in place while building foundation is repaired and strengthened

Equipment Updates

We will just start by saying this. Our equipment is beautiful. Eight stainless steel tanks that hold 120 gallons of volume each. July threw us some curve balls with the foundation work on our building, but it's been somewhat of a blessing because we have been able to dedicate a lot of our time to get our system cleaned, and fully put together. We have ordered and installed over 50 little valves, gaskets, and clamps that are needed to fully operate the brewing cycle. Just last week our caustic chemicals for cleaning came in and we have scrubbed and sanitized every little last piece. System is prepped, constructed, cleaned and ready for beer!


Beer Tuning

A foundation of good beer is a combination of good ingredients, and good

recipes. We have already built a solid library of beer styles and recipes that we want to make. With our equipment all arrived and put together the last step is to secure our ingredients. Our evenings in July were spent in conversations and spreadsheets locking in our contracts and relationships with hop distributors. Something that was more difficult than we had imagined. We are glad to say that we have contracted and ordered and received over 500 pounds of quality hops. We are currently packaging them into manageable sizes for our system, and with this quantity have enough hops to make beer for a solid year before needing to order more. 

Brand Updates 

When we aren't brewing beer, or working on the building we are usually designing. Recently we finished the design for the Beer for Life application, and have moved into developing it. July has us moving on to illustration and packaging design. Each of our beers has a story behind it and a name, and we are working to identify our signature illustration style to give each beer a visual as well. These illustrations will be used to represent our beers both in the bar as well as in packaging when we move to cans in the future. Above is our illustration style for our keeper of the keys barley wine and our heart of 100 fires red rye amber. With the style locked down we are extending it to cover our full list of beers. 


Community Connections

Working towards opening a brewery in San Francisco is hard work. Luckily there are a great group of individuals that have done it before, and we are feeling very supported by the local community. We have visited and talked with large and small scale breweries this month including Drakes, Cerveceria, Barrelhead, Triple Voodoo and Fort Point. The culmination of our conversations and visits ended the month with a huge Honor. We were invited to speak as a panel member at the Hops and History event. Our head brewer Cole Emde was one of four brewers to speak and discuss what it takes to open a brewery in San Francisco. It was both a pleasure and an honor to sit up with Magnolia, Triple Voodoo, and Cellar Maker to talk and field questions about what it's like to take on a project like Black Sands. 

Cole (Left) our head brewer with other local SF Brewers.

Cole (Left) our head brewer with other local SF Brewers.

June Newsletter - Marking the Sands of Time

The Black Sands hour glass turns. Another month passes and this one has been very productive. This time one month ago we were just starting construction. And, similar to months in the past, June is filled with exciting progress. We have forged many great new relationships, fine tuned the tastes of what we are serving, planned new areas of the space, and designed the details of what will make Black Sands a wonderful neighborhood spot. With permits in hand the last month has been a whirlwind of construction, progress and learning lessons. We're eager to share these with you guys and keep you excited about the upcoming 2014 opening of Black Sands. We hope you enjoy these updates as much as we do. 

Construction Updates

Construction is moving fast, we're almost done with rough framing. There is a semi-functional bathroom, new ADA ramp, new beautiful windows and lots of structural improvements to bolster the old building. Electric panels have been setup and we're a few weeks worth of rough work before we start the finishing stages. We did hit a little bit of an unforeseen hiccup. There are some foundation issues with the building's basement and walls, but our supportive building owner is working with engineers to install some new seismic supports and repair foundation sections. This just happened about 2 weeks ago but we're working with the owner's contractors to get a firm ETA on the repairs.  

Beer Updates

Beer brewing never stops with us. As we await our final approval to use our new system, our test batches of beer taste better and better with each iteration. We have hops in hand that are straight from our distributors and we are fine tuning recipes for about a dozen different beers that we want to offer in the bar. Our brand team is diligently naming each beer and sketching out label designs for each one. Last month we brewed our signature SMASH series, our black IPA, two styles of our barley wine, and our red rye amber. Other recipes in the works include a session black IPA, a saison, an imperial stout, a baltic porter, a session ale, multiple SMASH series, and three levels of west coast IPA's.


Home Brew Shop Updates

We started as homebrewers before working in professional brewing settings and homebrewing is still an important element of what we do at Black Sands. Black Sands will feature a focused homebrew store featuring quality base malts, speciality malts, yeasts and hops from the around the world. We're hard at work securing hop contracts and are working with our architect to design an easy to use, aesthetically focused homebrew shop. Equally important we're going to be using the same ingredients in our beers and sharing techniques and recipes with brewers. We're looking forward to learning from local homebrewers as well.

Coffee Program

Black Sands has coffee? Yes, yes we do. Aside from beer we also love coffee and the process of brewing it. Generally we love the idea of taking a seed from a plant, roasting it, crushing it, soaking it in hot water, and straining it into a wonderful tasting beverage. Beer and coffee are similar in so many ways! We are excited to be building out the Black Sands coffee program. Being on the wiggle we're building a small take out window that will feature quality espresso drinks, pour overs and coffees from around the world. We're working with some local based industry experts to develop unique coffee blends exclusive to Black Sands. We're a little bit wired up from all the tastings we've had, but super excited! 


Beer For Life Updates

We're almost in Beta with the app and our in house programmer is fine tuning the bugs. The app will track your Beer for Life program and enable you to "check in" to get drinks. The app will work on iOS devices as well as mobile browsers. 

Visiting and Learning from Friends

Work is important. But friends, family, and fun are often more important. When we aren't jackhammering, brewing, planning, designing, sketching, building, drawing.... we like to revisit the places that made us want to get into the brewing world in the first place. This month we have visited not only the local breweries that inspire us in the city, but many that we have worked and learned at as well. 

Thanks All!

Thanks again to everyone who is helping make Black Sands a reality. We truly appreciate your interest, support, and love of beer! Black Sands!



Exploring Our Building's History - From Sand to Staples to Suds to Beer

We're really blessed to be building out a space that has a lot of history in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  That said - being curious types, we snooped around the internet, the San Francisco library for records, and explored through old building plans to find out what uses and history have been previous to our occupancy at the corner of Haight and Pierce - the corner home to Black Sands Brewery!

The Wiggle's Long Natural History

Yelamu Oholone Indian Woven Huts - Credit - SF Library

Yelamu Oholone Indian Woven Huts - Credit - SF Library

The corner of Haight and Pierce is located on the much used "wiggle," the bike lane favored by many to cross against the western part of the city from Market Street. Much to our amazement this piece of land was used for 1000s of years. From the great resource ThinkWalks we learn "Predating the Spaniards, the Yelamu Oholone Indians occupied the lands and had a village called Chutchui that was located along the creek near Market Street. The corner of Haight and Pierce at the time was a sand valley that was an actually river valley during heavy rains."

The couple hundred residents of Chutchui were conscripted as the first labor for the Franciscan padres who founded Mission Dolores. Indians were called “diggers” but probably not for their new pastime as ditch diggers. More likely, it’s because they made baskets from rhizomes dug out of the creek banks.

The Ohlone thrived in the San Francisco Bay Area for thousands of years, living remarkably ecologically sustainably without using intensive agriculture as we know it. While the Ohlone nevertheless did interact with the land substantially through hunting, gathering, fire management and other cultural practices.


Its great to remember the Native American history of the property and we'll try our best to incorporate that passion for craft and being sustainable on the earth in our beer making. We're already looking into rain capture systems and proper water management systems to minimize our impact.  The Ohlone Dancers also had a great sense of style and culture. From Spanish reports we learned they favored Black and White - something we at Black Sands share!


Western Addition Annexed!

By the middle of the last century, farms had spread through the Lower Haight valley. In 1851, San Francisco annexed the valley as part of the "Western Addition," extending the city's western border to Divisadero Street (so named because it divided the city from the land that was considered part of the Presidio). By the turn of the century, Haight Street had established itself as a business district serviced by a cable car line following the current route of the #7 trolley bus. The farmland had been parceled into grids of 26-foot wide housing tracts and the Wiggle was born as the zig-zaggy, contoured route that connects the central districts.

August 1886 - Cattle + Railcars

You can see the corner of Haight and Pierce in 1886 clearly in the above photo. The Street car moving along Haight street passing what looks like cattle and shrubs! Who owned this pasture? Moving to the SF Library's SF Block Books we found our answer!

MicroFiche Adventures.

From the 1890 Block Property Book available on Microfiche - we find the first deeded owner of that parcel and that the pasture was owned by Jon J Marks. Awesome! 

Only 4 years later - the land became deeded to a relative (possibly wife or daughter) Adelaide M. Marks. 

1894 Block Book of San Francisco. See Block 440 Above.

The property remained a large flat pasture until 1899 when according the Sanborne Insurance Maps of San Francisco a dwelling unit was built by Adelaide along with three subdivisions. She subdivided the land into the properties seen below. Whats more interesting is the construction of the home was inset from the street and was a single floor with a carriage / horse house on the corner of the plot. Did Adelaide keep horses, a tool shed for workers? Equally interesting is the Sanborne map identifies the shed on the map!

1899 San Borne Insurance Map! See the inset property!

From the 1907 SF Real Estate Circular we find the following for sales transaction listing a 27.6 * 87.6 plot (which matches our building lot) selling the property for $16,000! In today's dollars using the US Treasury Inflation Guide that would be about $440,000 in today's dollars! 

SF Real Estate Circular from 1907 Lists Sale of the Property for $16,000.

Looking below one learns that Adelaide destroyed the single unit dwelling and deeded the property into various subdivisions. A mysterious D Von D Mehden built the building we're standing in now and Adelaide's relatives took other sub divisions! The Building records state that our building was built in 1908 and is the same basic design as the current building.

1909 Block Book D Von Der Mehden claiming stake to the corner of Haight / Pierce - what today is 701 Haight Street and Black Sands.

In 1908 D Von der Mehdan the 3 floor building with 701, 703, 705 units mapped. You can see the land next to the building was empty.

The name Mehdan is quite rare and sadly we haven't found too much. The only record match is from the 1914 SF Blue Book listing membership of Mr Mehdan in the SF Orchestra Club! 

Property owner Von Der Mehdan listed as member of the 1914 SF Orchestral Club.

Moving through the ages we find the above photo from 1927. On the lower right hand corner you can see the market store that occupied the 701 Haight store front. Its unclear what market store this was, but likely a general store with a large glass front on Haight Street.  

Also in the above picture is the lack of the street car lines. Either there was some pre-photoshop action happening here or some photo magic. Sadly those street cars are gone! How wonderful it would be to jump on to a street car to go through the city.

SF Library - 1940 House and Street Directory

SF Library - 1940 House and Street Directory

Moving forward in time we find the next records for the property in the 1940 SF House and Street directory listing the occupant of 701 Haight Street market as JH Robinson & Sons along with Matilda Crouch and Leah Reeder being tenants upstairs.  Did JH Robinson run the store as Robinson & Sons Market since 1908 when the building was built? 

We're still amateur sleuths and couldn't find too much yet of the property from 1940 onwards. It seems that the market morphed into a laundry mat in the late 1970s when Delaney and Family took over the unit.

Majestic Laundry / "Delaney Laundry"

From the DCP 1976 SURVEY Survey field form we find a rather dull photo of the 1970s showing Delaney Laundry! We've petitioned the SF Health Department for records on the property and will share those as they become available. From the photo - looks like an extra structure was planned for the roof? Roof deck for the tenants? The 2nd entrance on Pierce 2as also closed off and original large windows are visible in the building. We're doing our best to restore the building to a beautiful yet contemporary take.

1976 Delaney Laundry Mat Photograph from DCP Land Review

DCP 1976 Land Review Notes

DCP 1976 Land Review Notes

The DCP 1976 Land Review plots the building and its relation to other building.  Its fun to see the inspectors notes on the property.

Photo Credit: Stephen Hollingsworth

Owned by Mr. Delaney and family. Majestic Laundry / Delaney Laundry was presumably opened in the late 70s and continued through until late 2008 when our current owner took over the building. Wild 70s linoleum, even older non functional machines and and plywood partitions 

From Yelp review of the site in 2007 we get this magic gem on the former business owner:

"I remember when Mr Delaney used to sit on a stool at the end of the folding table, scowling at you when you came in.. He'd patrol the washing machine aisle watching for amateur laundry mistakes.. sneaking up and putting your jumpy ass on blast if you mixed your darks and whites..   It was one of those experiences that were irritating as fuck when you were in it, and too silly not to talk about over drinks later.. I miss Mr Delaney and his commitment to clean laundry.."

When we moved into the space, initial demolition of the laundry mat was done by the new owner Jay Johnson, bar owner of SF institutions like the Orbit Room. Jay wanted to build his own bar in the space for the last few years but decided finally in 2014 to rent it to other parties. We were so lucky to find the space and be the current occupant. The basement and back stock room was full of laundry equipment, old motors, drive belts, 1000s of packs of soap, and awesome signs that we kept and we'll try to use in the space. The old clock in the photo is still with us and we'll make a great place for it in the new shop!

Photo Credit: Stephen Hollingsworth

We've had a lot of fun on this time travel exploration piece. If you have any more information to share on the property do please contact us! We're eager to learn more! 

As we move forward in the space its really great to remember all the history of the space and try to incorporate the past energy in our new creations. 2014 is an exciting time for the building -we're planning on finishing construction soon and opening this summer offering crafted ales, spirits, food, coffee and a resource for the community.  

May Newsletter - Rockin', Framin', Brewin'

May Newsletter - Rockin', Framin', Brewin'

Hey! Hello friends, family, supporters, interested parties. Welcome to June. If you are in San Francisco, welcome to cold weather and fog. If you are basically anywhere else in the world, welcome to summer! This month we have so much to share. We have so many things going on that we may even have to leave some things out... on second thought, new here comes the deluge.

Permits Approved! 

After many months of planning, drawings, appointment, changes, submitting, fees, resubmitting... we have our permits in hand. This is a HUGE milestone for us. Building permits and inspections for architectural, health, and fire are the hardest part of starting a business in California. We did it, we got it, yes, YES. We are invigorated.  

Equipment Purchased and Shipped:

Almost every piece of major equipment for the space is ordered, shipped and received. Our kitchen is stocked with stoves, hoods and sinks. Our refrigerators for the kegs, and freezers for the hops are here and already in use. Our brewing equipment has all arrived and is being setup and plugged in for testing. The roofing fans and ducts are already on the roof. The Major pieces are all here and are either installed already or they are waiting for construction to frame out and finish. 

Construction is Full Bore:

With permits in hand we have the blessing from all necessary parties to build our space out. So exciting to have thoughts, plans, sketches, dreams, doodles for all this time, and now it's real. If you have walked by the space you will see it happening live, and most likely hear it (sorry neighbors!) There is so much happening, but here are some highlights. 

  • Sound proofing the roof has started with the first layer of dry wall rocked. We stuffed the old wooden wall beams with insulation and reenforced the floor joists. Our carpenters have put new support beams and additional framing to enforce the building's structure.  
  • The back floor has been ripped out, and the ADA wheelchair ramp is going in. We ripped up the back floor and jackhammered giant 60 year old cement boulders to pave the way for the ADA wheelchair ramp. 
  • The old windows are out. New sound proofed glass windows are going in all along Pierce street and we are even lowering the back windows back for larger windows for the brewery supply store area
  • Our bar area is framed out and the flooring is being removed so we can run our plumbing for the sinks and beer taps.    
  • Our fans and ducts arrived and we pulled them straight up to the ceiling for installation. 

Beers Are Tasting Amazing

With everything else going on, we are a busy group. Luckily we have a talented team and a lot of great help. This allows us to make leaps and bounds in getting the doors open, and also reserves the precious time to craft great tasting beers. This month we brewed three of our favorites. These will likely be on the menu on opening day.


Son of Man / This is our signature Black IPA. It is a solid dark hoppy beer. It has an aroma of chocolate and roasted malts mixed with the fruity character of citrus notes from an ample amount of dry hopping with Citra hops. its full flavor, and well rounded.


Heart of 100 Fires / Our red rye amber ale. This beer is blood red. We use a rich colored malt base and rye to add a spicy bite to it. Medium bodied and not overly hopped, this is a great malty pale and spicy amber.


Keeper of the Keyes / Our christmas barley wine. Inspired by family members, this English style barley wine packs a punch. With a double mash we used the first runnings to collect an insane amount of rush flavor and will be stored for about 9 months.

Hops / Contracts:

For our brewers, this past month has been largely about securing all the hops we need to make amazing tasting beers. Beer is a popular thing, and thus hops are in high demand. We have been lucky to create some great relationships with the farmers and suppliers of quality hops over the past 6 months. We have also had a great deal of help from generous and friendly brewers around the city. With these people's help we have secured all the hops we need for the rest of this year, and we are locking in our contracts for future hop harvests to guarantee us our quality ingredients to make great beer.


June Is Going to Be Interesting:

Each month that passes we grow closer to realizing our dream of getting Black Sands open for all to enjoy. With May closing, and June just getting started we are very optimistic. We have reached some very important milestones, and it just makes us want to work even harder. 

Thank you to everyone who supports us. We are constantly humbled by the feedback that we are getting. Know that we are working hard to bring this to you. Look to our social outlets for real time updates on progress, or stop by the space and pop your head in to say hello! 


Beer for Life

Loyal Black Sands Supporters,

We've been amazed by the support we've received from the local community, beer lovers and fellow beer makers! Thank you!

The Black Sand project is moving full steam ahead - our equipment just arrived and we're test brewing at our warehouse. 

We're set to start construction shortly and its time for us to give back to our early supporters by letting you know first about our new Beer for Life Program!

We're planning to open our doors in Summer 2014, and as a way to say thanks for your support, we're offering you the deal of a lifetime: Literally free pints for the rest of your life at our brewery!

The Black Sands Beer for Life program rewards anyone who donates $100 via IndieGoGo or more with one free pint of beer at Black Sands Brewery every month for life. That simple. No Gimmicks - No Tricks. Beer for Forever

How it will work!

Black Sands supporters will be able to redeem their free monthly beer with our Black Sands mobile application. If the IndieGoGo campaign closes successfully we'll send you a download code and link. You'll login and come to Black Sands and redeem your beer in person at our location! That simple! No tricks, no gimmicks. You can choose from one of our many beers including IPAs, Stouts, Porters, and more. There will also be reminders and little specials for early supporters through the app.   

Why IndieGoGo?

We want to offer an opportunity to enable people to support local small scale manufacturing in the United States but at more accessible price points. Quality is expensive but if we can garner your support for upfront production and equipment costs, it will enable us to meet and batch production to lower pricing.  Everyone wins! We also hope you'll stay around and support us by having dinner and more!

Risks and Challenges?

San Francisco is one of the greatest cities in the world to conduct business in and be part of-- however, building codes, permits, and the inspection process can be a bit of a Byzantine labyrinth. 

Luckily we have an amazing team with experienced architects, permit expeditors, furniture builders and brewers all working together. We're working with the best in opening this bar.

Luckily we also have experience from our other restaurants and retail stores and have used that experience in this project.

This project has been designed within the guidelines and regulations of the City and the County of San Francisco. We are fully confident in our team of professionals to navigate through all necessary measures.

We invite you to participate in our Beer for Life Program

Thank you for your support. As always, feel free to keep up to date with any of the following!

Twitter /
Blog /
Instagram /

Local Volunteering

Every Saturday for us is a beer tasting event. That is, we taste beers while we make beer, and every Saturday we brew beer. We typically sip a session beer while we brew, as to keep our wits about us as we fine tune our recipes. However, Saturday March 29th was a beer tasting that was slightly different than our last few.

On the 29th we volunteered at the Ratebeer Gallery 3 event at SPUR in San Francisco. This was the third of three Bay Area beer events in the gallery series from Ratebeer that highlights new, best, and interesting beers. The gallery event also included speaking events, and of course many a conversation about beer ethics, practice, and history. There were over 20 beers for tasting and four different speaking events. We poured at the station serving Pliny the Elder and Deschutes Pine Drops IPA. Here is a list of the beers on tap and the speakers that attended the event.

The Beers that were poured:

The Brains that were speaking:

Volunteering to pour great tasting beers and socialize with beer lovers is our idea of a good Saturday. Ratebeer hosts some great events and they are a great way to taste a lot of delicious beers in one concentrated setting. You can always follow the Ratebeer calendar of events, But here are a few Ratebeer events that are happening in the bay area in the next month if your interested:

The Yeast Is Strong My lord

Why You Need a Blowoff Tube

Last weekend, I brewed a new batch of beer using the Vermont IPA yeast strain from our friends at GigaYeast. We first connected with these guys during SF Beer Week, and they gave us a few samples to try when they stopped by for our open house. Local yeast goes great with local beer. 

As the package promised, the GigaYeast kicked fermentation off to a fast and strong start. I let the yeast to do its magic and, within a few hours, there was a lot of activity in the primary fermenter. I thought to myself, “This is why you need a blowoff tube!”

I can’t tell you how many times, in my early days of homebrewing, I wiped exploded beer off the walls of my closet after neglecting to install a blowoff tube during the fermentation process. Technically, you don’t always need a blowoff tube, but we never leave it to chance. 

Here are a few guidelines for using blowoff tubes:

  1. Replace your Airlock with a blowoff tube. A blowoff tube is a sanitary way of releasing excess foam (Kräusen) and CO2 pressure during fermentation.
  2. If you don't want to go through the trouble of installing a blowoff tube every time you brew, make sure to use one when trying a new yeast, brewing a high-gravity beer, or your fermenter is full to the top in the primary.
  3. Be sure to leave a decent amount of head space (volume and distance between the level of your beer and the top of your fermenter). 
  4. Make sure to submerge the free end of the blowoff tube in a jar or bottle of water, and use sanitized water in your blowoff tank.
  5. The reality is that blowoff tubes aren't always necessary, and needing one depends on several factors. For us, it has become ritual, only because we’ve had way too many beers explode in the closet to risk having to clean that mess up again. If you’re unsure if you need one, just do it. Better safe than sorry.

Brew Day Report: Experimenting With Imperial Stout

Lately, we've had a taste for the dark and malty. Maybe it was the cooler weather over the past few months, or maybe we just needed a change from hoppy IPA's. Over the past few months we tried a lot of different darker, more rich varieties. We found a select few that really rattled our cages and decided to craft our own version. We captured some of our notes, and the recipe is available for download if you want to give it a go yourself. Its for a 10 gal batch but there are grain percentages if you'd like to adapt it to your preferred volume.

The Recipe

This imperial stout calls for a variety of malts, primarily pale (75%) and Caramunich (5%). Our main tweaks to the recipes that we used as models were varying the yeast strain (from an American Ale to a combination of London Ale and Super High Gravity Ale) and for kicks we spiked the wort with a large amount of hops at the end of the boil. 


To hit our target original gravity of 1.085, we added 1 LB of sugar and 1 LB of Light DME to the boil. Then, boiling for two hours also helped boost the gravity a bit too.


So far, so good. I tasted a sample last night and, as expected, it’s very close to what we were going for. I’d say it has a touch more sweetness and toffee flavor, rather than the big, heavy, roasted malt and char flavor of a typical imperial stout. Currently, the beer is in secondary conditioning for another week or two. Taste tests will determine when its ready. From there, we’ll bottle it and age for several months.

Next Time

  1. To give this beer a darker color and more roasted, char, and black malt character, I’d tweak the combinations of specialty malts. Altering the chocolate, roasted, and black malt proportions and adding some midnight wheat or de-bittered black to give me that darker color I prefer. 
  2. Considering the two-hour boil, prep, and cleanup, I’d plan more time for the brew day. 
  3. Back off of the large, late hop additions. I'd say they didn't contribute much to the finished beer, and to keep using them in the way I did would be a waste. After all, imperial stouts are really a showcase for the malts, not so much the hops. My variations on this particular recipe resulted in a good, well executed beer, but it doesn’t have the rich malt character of a typical imperial stout.

/ Cole


Yours to Keep: Downloadable Brew Sheet Template

Attention to detail is key. As brewers, we live by this principle. To capture all the detail that goes into every batch, every brewer needs a good brew sheet. We crafted the Black Sands Brew Sheet in our image, and we’re excited to share it with you. We are working on creating a more advanced brew sheet for the seasoned and expert brewers, but this version is a great tool for almost anyone who brews at home. Use it as a reference and a record as you gather your ingredients and follow the steps to brew a great beer. 

If you’ve never used a brew sheet before, here are a few tips: 

Intro Section

  • Beer Name: Have fun with it! 
  • Style: Imperial stout, English ale, IPA, etc.
  • Batch No.: Helpful if you’re planning to repeat the recipe over and over to perfection
  • Batch Size: A typical homebrew is about 5 gallons, but you can always go bigger!
  • Dates: Keep track of what date you brewed, when you racked to fermentation, and when you packaged it into bottles or a keg.


  • Bring your brew sheet along when you visit the homebrew store to gather your ingredients. 
  • Specify the various grains and other ingredients that will go into your brew, like clearing agents, water treatment minerals, or spices for flavoring and aroma.
  • Don’t forget to record the amount you purchased.

Mash Schedule

  • Specify whether you’re doing an all grain, partial, or extract brew.
  • Water: You may add some gypsum or other minerals to treat your mash water and balance the PH, but this isn't a necessity. Many homebrewers simply use tap water. I know we do in San Francisco! But, it’s there if you need it.
  • Times and Temperatures: You’ll want to know how long to steep your grains, and at what temperature. This will vary depending on whether you’re doing all grain, partial, or extract brewing.

Hops Schedule

  • Specify your boiling and finishing hops, and the times you add them to the boil.
  • Boiling hops are for bittering your beer; finishing hops are for flavor and aroma.
  • Typically, you add bittering hops during the first 30 minutes of the boil and finishing hops during the last 30 minutes.
  • The closer you get to the end of the boil, the more the hops are for the aroma of your beer only.


  • Record your yeast strain type and your pitch environment.


  • Take copious notes throughout
  • Write down info about the taste (appearance, aroma, taste, mouth feel, overall)

Overall, enjoy yourself and have fun! We hope homebrewers find this resource helpful and we look forward to creating more tools like this in the near future.  

Extending the Black Sands Brand System


We're a patient bunch. As brewers, we have to be. Patience and time are two of the most critical factors in the brewing process. These qualities define our brand as a whole, even down to our visual system. Although we are patient, we are never idle. As we wait patiently for all the legal documents and licenses we'll need to start serving you quality beer in the Lower Haight, we're also working vigorously behind the scenes.

One of the most fun projects is creating our brand's visual language. We have a team of fantastic designers helping us establish our logo, labels, coasters, letterheads, keg collars, you name it. We're striving to develop an elegant brand language that conveys the qualities we want to embody. If you've been following along, you've seen initial explorations, studies, and evolutions of our brand language. Today, we unveil the latest extension of our system—the way we want to visualize each beer we make. Each Black Sands beer will have a unique flavor and name, with a visual consistency to make them feel like a family. Hope you like them! As always, stay tuned for more updates.

Science, Beer, Yeast

Do you like beer? Of course you do. That was a rhetorical question. A better question might be, do you know why you like beer? During SF Beer Week, there are so many opportunities to better understand the science behind the beer we like. Last night, we walked over to an event at the SOMA Streat Food Park, where KQED Science, GigaYeast, and Freewheel Brewery screened a short film, "Science of Beer: Tapping the Power of Brewer's Yeast." The film explains the science behind the brewing process in a beautifully simple way and pays respect to the magical ingredient that makes it all happen—yeast.

After the screening, there were some cool presentations and discussions about yeast and brewing. We thoroughly enjoyed the event and the chance to talk science with the guys and gals from GigaYeast. What could be cooler than drinking local beers from Social Kitchen and Freewheel Brewery and hanging out inside an old schoolbus with some of the people who are making local beer happen? 

Check out "Science of Beer: Tapping the Power of Brewers Yeast" above and read the full writeup on KQED.

Signature Three Get Ready for the Keg


Onward. Up. Forward. Our march toward opening Black Sands is steady and true. To get our homebrew supply store and nano brewery open for all to enjoy, we have many things on our plate. Fortunately, next to that plate there's always a tall glass of homebrewed beer. In our case, we're having a love affair with three particular beers. These are our first signature recipes, and we've been brewing them at home for years. They're tasting lovely, and we feel like they're damn near complete. As we experiment, we diverge, we converge, we rule out, and we tweak, but we're very close to putting the final touches on these recipes. Here's a quick snapshot of our lineup:

1. S.M.A.S.H. Sorachi Ace 
We're dry-hopping this with a boatload of Sorachi Ace, and it'll be kegged up and ready to drink by the weekend!

2. The Black IPA
We racked this into the secondary fermenter, and we'll dry-hop it this week. Should be ready soon.

3. S.M.A.S.H. Citra
Our Citra recipe is racked into the secondary fermenter. We dry-hopped with 1.5 oz of Citra to crank this batch to 11!

Stay tuned for tasting notes.


Meet and Greet - Sunday Feb. 9th


The Black Sands Team is hosting an informal meet and greet on Sunday February 9th at 11am. We invite everyone in the Lower Haight and surrounding neighborhoods to swing by and say hello. We're excited to meet neighbors, residents, and community members to discuss our upcoming brewery and homebrew shop slated to open in 2014 at 701 Haight.

We're hosting a very informal meeting at the raw space to share plans, discuss ideas and meet others. We'd love to meet neighbors and see how we can all work together on improving San Francisco and the Lower Haight.


Black Sands Team 

Black Sands Logo Evolution


We have been working hard to refine the logo that is going to represent the Black Sands brand. We believe in the power of good design and want to incorporate a well thought out brand language for everything we make, from beer to websites. If you remember from an earlier post we started with a brand exercise that looked across the brewing process to establish potential metaphors and base shapes for our logo. We narrowed to the part of the brewing process that we appreciate most; fermentation.

Fermentation to us is where all the magic happens. We chose fermentation and the aspect of time to represent the Black Sands brand because the qualities match what we want to be. Fermentation is about time, it's slow, it rely's on natural processes. Black Sands is about slow, hand crafted beers. We believe in patience and natural processes to produce the best results in our beer and our food. 

As we narrowed to the time aspect of the brewing process we chose an hourglass as our metaphor to represent time and fermentation. We have been exploring the hourglass metaphor along a spectrum of logos that go from literal to abstract. Through this exploration we wanted a logo that truly stands for the Black Sands name and values. We wanted a logo that simple, modern, honest, and straightforward. We also wanted our logo to communicate the hourglass metaphor without being too literal or "beat you over the head" with it. We have come up with a logo that we feel achieves all these goals. Check out the top of the page to see it in action and look for the Black Sands logo in action in many more places soon! 

Wiggle Green Project

Black Sands always blushes in photos.

Black Sands always blushes in photos.

Yesterday we attended the public open house for a new project proposal in Lower Haight. The Wiggle Neighborhood Green Corridor project outlines a plan that in our opinion is a great combination of beauty and intelligence. This project is aimed at reducing the amount of stormwater entering the city's sewers as well as improving walking and biking conditions along the wiggle. We got the chance to see all the plans in detail and also speak with the representatives from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, and the San Francisco Department of Public Works. 

The Black Sands Squad was thrilled to see the plans. This project makes the wiggle more safe for bikers and drivers alike. We personally ride our bikes through the wiggle every single day and fully support a more bike friendly corridor. All who support a safer, more intelligent and beautiful wiggle corridor, check out the project here.

S.M.A.S.H. Citra + 2-Row


Nobody puts baby in the back seat. In this house the carboy rides shotgun; girlfriends in the back. Just joking girls, we love a beau or two who drinks a brew or two! S.M.A.S.H.(ing) once again with all Citra and 2-row. Loaded up the boil with 5 ounces this round to amp up our bitterness and pure dankness of flavor! Now, you must be thinking what the hell is it doing wearing a seat belt? Well, we brewed this at our buddies place so we needed to give it a little car ride over to our fermentation space to give it a proper home for fermentation. This beer should be on the mark in just a few short weeks.

A Black IPA Has Been Casted

90 minute boil of our newest Black IPA recipe

90 minute boil of our newest Black IPA recipe

Brewers, humans who drink the drink of the earth. The Black Sands Squad reveals to you our Black IPA. What you're looking at here is the start of the 90 minute boil on one of our signature beers. A recipe that has been in development for over a year. We are getting dangerously close to perfecting this one. We hit our mash numbers and loaded up the boil with Galena, Magnum, Citra, and Cascade. This beer boasts a heavy bitterness balanced by roasted malt flavor, a touch of sweetness, and a delicate sweet fruit aroma.

Stay tuned for more blog posts as we'll be ramping up our test batches. On deck: S.M.A.S.H. #2 and a Smoked Saison recipe in the works!

A sample of S.M.A.S.H.

Some process photos from our first 2014 beer recipe!

Some process photos from our first 2014 beer recipe!

This is how the Black Sands Squad likes to bring in the new year. We have made resolutions to make massive amounts of homebrew in 2014! To start, we are dedicating ourselves to perfecting our latest ideas on the S.M.A.S.H. technique. S.M.A.S.H. stands for single malt and single hop. We are brewing a series of full flavored beers that each use just one malt and one hop variety. By limiting the variables of what goes into a beer, we can target in on specific flavors that come from a particular hop or malt. It's a great way for homebrewers to learn what hops and malts they like, and how each of those ingredients contribute to specific flavors, textures, and aromas in a finished beer. This batch uses Muntons Maris Otter Blend and Sorachi Ace hops start to finish.

Design for the Neighborhood

Haighteration recently broke news on our upcoming nano brewery and brew supply store Black Sands.

Following the news we’ve been visited with positive feedback from neighbors, merchants, and residents in the Lower Haight and beyond. Neighbors have visited us in our related sister business Revolver on Fillmore, voicing their support and some going as far to offer materials, and advice for our project.  We can't tell you how much it means to have our neighbors as excited as we are. This project is a long awaited dream of ours and we can't wait to share it.

OK, we're about to get sappy on you... ( picture in your head a bearded man crying over his keyboard ). In all honesty, it's still a bit surreal to be writing these words. We have been spitballing, tossing, dreaming and planning this idea for years. To have our Lower Haight location secure, and to have Haighteration break the news makes us endlessly excited. There is not a better location and community that we would rather serve. We’re thrilled to be part of this neighborhood and even more that we’re designing a location and service that exudes the passion, creativity, and charm that is San Francisco.

We’re a small business and wanted to share that we’ve been active in San Francisco for over 5 years through other projects like Revolver on Fillmore. We’re using local architects, local contractors, local suppliers and are employing local residents in helping us achieve our vision of a warm, honest, and friendly place to enjoy well crafted slow beers, food and community. We're excited by the challenge of building something that benefits the community and represents it to visitors form around the world.

Keep posted here for updates and news. If you guys have feedback - we're listening! We love ideas.


Thanks again!

Black Sands

Planning Department

Robert and Cole dive into the new architecture plans for Black Sands at 701 Haight.

Robert and Cole dive into the new architecture plans for Black Sands at 701 Haight.

The Black Sands partners met the other day at 701 Haight to take a look at the latest architectural plans. Look at these young sons of man. Watch them plan. The drawn plans are fantastical and all the boys have fresh new haircuts. Grand gestures and the pointing of fingers start to paint a vision in our space. We have been using 2x4's to outline where walls, furniture, and brewing equipment will go. Standing in our future beer shelter makes it way easier to see where a vent must be to outtake brewing heat, or where the storage goes for all of our precious carboys. We are starting to be able to illustrate our vision in the space and the excitement is palpable. Finalize these plans we must, then off to the city for approval (fingers crossed).