San Francisco

Black Hammer Brewing's Castro beer garden nearing completion

SoMa-based Black Hammer Brewing's Castro beer garden, Willkommen (2196 Market St., at Sanchez), is nearing completion. It's currently set to open next month.

Willkommen, German for 'welcome,' will occupy the largest of three ground-floor retail spaces beneath The Duboce, a new residential building that opened in 2016.

Hoodline broke the news about the new beer garden a year ago. Signs initially posted on the windows said "See you this summer," but summer has come and gone while construction continued apace.

The original opening plan was "a very aggressive schedule based on our experience with opening the [SoMa] brewery," said owner Jim Furman. "We opened it in about 4 or 5 months, and thought this would be similar."

"Several things still need to happen," Furman added. "Because of the new construction, it's [taken] a little bit longer than it would if we were retrofitting."

Willkommen takes over the corner unit at 2196 Market. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

Founded by Furman in 2012, Black Hammer crafts small-batch ales and lagers using traditional techniques. Its original brewery and taproom in SoMa has been open since 2015; last year, it opened Hammertime, a pop-up beer bar on Polk Street. 

Furman got the idea for Willkommen from a trip to Munich, where he was "really inspired by Germans drinking beer in the woods," he said. "Drinking beer in nature is a focus of German beer-drinking culture and not that much here ... we're still more focused on the beer than on the experience of friends and what the beer facilitates."

Black Hammer's product manager Cody Laxo (left) and owner Jim Furman. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

To recreate that woodsy experience, Furman has imported Willkommen's communal beer tables, made of reclaimed live-edge wood, directly from Germany. The space will also feature two 14-foot live redwood trees, a variety of smaller trees, and a living wall. 

Willkommen will have a casual setup, with diners ordering at the counter and taking a number before taking a spot at the communal tables.

The idea, Furman said, is to encourage people to come and go as they please. "It's not just to get your beer right away — it's also to make it easier for friends to join you."

The Willkommen space remains under construction. | Photo: Willkommen/Facebook

Lunch and dinner will be served at Willkommen seven days a week, through a partnership with Rosamunde Sausage Grill. They'll offer the full selection of sausages familiar to patrons of Rosamunde's Mission and Lower Haight locations, including knockwurst, Nuremberger bratwurst, Slovenian klobase, thuringer, chicken cherry, weisswurst, chicken habanero, cheddar brat, smoked hot beer sausage and a meatless "beyond sausage" brat.

Sausages will be offered three different ways: "SF style," on a French roll with grilled onions and sauerkraut, "Bavarian," on a plate with red cabbage and warm potato salad, and "Berliner," sliced and served with fries and curry ketchup. Diners can also order a sausage trio on a board, with mustard, pickles and cheese. 

Other food items will include a daily roast, salads, pretzels and a stein of pistachios. 

Sausages available at Willkommen. | Image: Willkommen

Black Hammer's beers will star on the menu, with options like Nectar of Life kolsch, Hella Sexy helles and Sparkle Pony (a Belgian blonde). Gluten-reduced beers will also be available, as will two red and two white wines.

All Black Hammer's beer will continue to be brewed in SoMa, with no brewing on-site.

"We're working on having a curated list of 10 beers on tap at any given time,"  said Furman, adding that he may offer one or two guest taps as well. 

Beer at SoMa's Black Hammer Brewing. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

Asked why he chose the Castro space, Furman said he and his team "love the central location, and we really love the large windows."

Passersby may have noticed a few of those windows, facing Market Street, were recently smashed. Furman says they were vandalized on Super Bowl Sunday; he and his team are still determining the logistics of replacement.

Outdoor tables and chairs will be added along Sanchez Street. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

When Willkommen opens, he plans to offer outdoor tables and chairs along the Sanchez Street side of the building, not Market Street.

"There's too much traffic on Market Street, and it's not really a comfortable space," said Furman.

Feedback so far has been positive. The Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association shared words of support at a recent meeting.

Black Hammer's bar dog, Growler. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

Growler the bar dog is a staple of Black Hammer's SoMa taproom. But due to San Francisco health code laws, he won't be allowed inside Willkommen, which serves food. Nonetheless, Furman promises that "Growler will be outside occasionally" to greet fans. 

When it debuts, Willkommen will be open to all ages for lunch and dinner Monday through Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. - 11 p.m. and Thursday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Due to its lease agreement, it can't operate past midnight, but plans for exclusively 21+ business hours are still under consideration.

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