Welcome to Hidden Histories, where we highlight a Bay Area location with a secret past. Maybe it's no longer there, maybe it's been converted into something else, but each spot holds a place in Bay Area history—even if not many people know it. Have a suggestion or know a place with a secret history? The tipline's always open, or you can leave a comment after the jump.
The Costco on 10th Street in SoMa may be the place to buy your toilet paper and Q-tips in bulk, but not so long ago it was central command for the production of a frosty cold one, or several thousand. For almost 100 years, 10th and Bryant was steeped (and fermented!) in San Francisco beer history as the home of five different brewing labels. Let's taste-test a sampler.
The first brewery to occupy the site was Milwaukee Brewery. The company got its start back in 1868 as the Bay Brewery located on 7th Street, but changed its name and moved to 432-36 10th Street in 1891.
Things went well for the company, but by the 1930s they were rebranded as the San Francisco Brewing Corporation. In 1950 they undertook a major, $3.5 million expansion at the 10th Street site, adding a garage and office building, as well as a new stock house that doubled the production of beer.
One of the coolest features of the 1950 remodel was a brushed aluminum mural by Nikos Bel-Jon. The mural depicts a farmer with hops and brewery scenes, and used to be set in the brewery's tasting room. It was relocated to the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, where it still hangs today.
Burgermeister brewery mural, now at Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, by Niko Bel-Jon in 1950, via Bel-Jon Studios.
In 1936 San Francisco Brewing was the fifth largest brewery in San Francisco. By 1950, it had reached number two. The most popular offering was Burgermeister Beer, and in 1956 they decided to change the name to Burgermeister Brewing.
While many old San Francisco beers had awesome logos and can labels, the Burgie! Beer has got to be one of the best.
Burgermeister was sold to Schlitz in 1961, and later to Falstaff Brewing in 1971.
The whole place shut down in 1978, and the only buildings that remain are the warehouse and loading facility that were added in 1965 across the street at 1501 Harrison. The original brewery site was razed and is now home to Costco and its parking lot.