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DRAFT favorite: Social Kitchen & Brewery

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San Francisco
At the year-old Social Kitchen, beer gets equal billing as a beverage and an ingredient. “Craft and artisan beer is such an agricultural product; it’s really just food,” says brewmaster Rich Higgins. And yet, it all gets richer, thicker and more fascinating when Higgins, a world traveler and one of only three Master Cicerones on Earth, breathes his global view and avant-garde spirit into the restaurant’s signature cuisine à la biere. There are grand overtures, like January’s “Cafebeeria” Brewmaster dinner, where the Mystery Meat Sloppy Joe was actually housemade brewer’s malt tofu; then, there’s the simplicity of crispy sour malts sprinkled on a salad. The kitchen and brewery are symbiotic: Higgins tempts palates with ever-evolving brews that at any given time are retooled and layered to the complexity of a complete dish. His White Thai Affair, the house double IPA, takes on a spicy, Eastern identity with the addition of lemongrass, galangal and ginger; he brewed the Giant S’More, a Belgian Imperial Stout, with roasted Belgian malts to create graham cracker and chocolate notes, and Belgian yeast to add sweet, marshmallowlike phenols to the palate.


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