In another clear case of a local business that went into expansion mode at just the wrong time before the pandemic, Seven Stills Brewery and Distillery in Mission Bay has announced it will close after Halloween weekend.
The brewery, bar, and distillery at 100 Hooper Street is the last of Seven Stills' locations to close, after the pre-pandemic closures of their Mission District and Outer Sunset brewpubs — which were initially only temporarily shuttered due to a 90-day suspension of their liquor license, due to some arcane violations of "tied-house" laws — and the closure of their first location in the Bayview.
The SF Standard broke the news of the shutdown, with a quote from co-founder Tim Obert saying, "Timing is everything, and we were unfortunately hit with some of the worst timing possible."
In recent years, the beermaking side of the operation seemed to fall by the wayside and fewer beers were being released. The place remained an active distillery producing unique spirits — including a fresh batch of their hoppy Five Pounds whiskey that was just released on Tuesday. And earlier this year they had started making canned cocktails as well.
But Obert told the Standard that the costs of getting the Hooper Street facility built and running were about triple what they expected, and the place opened at the most inopportune time, in late 2019. A few months later, the liquor license snafu occurred — tied-house laws prevent breweries or distributors from promoting specific bars or providing customer giveaways over a certain amount, and these seem to have been the issues — and Seven Stills had to close and reopen a few times after the pandemic began.
Efforts to host socially distanced, in-person events at the Hooper Street space in late 2020 were met with some criticism on social media as well.
UC Davis grads Obert and Clint Potter started Seven Stills as a backyard brewing and distilling operation a decade ago, in 2012. Their initial goal was to use the byproducts of high-quality beer-making to create interesting spirits — allowing, for instance, the bitter and citrus notes from an IPA to carry through to a distilled spirit, beginning with vodkas and gins that didn't require aging. The pair had already won two medals at the World Spirits Competition in 2014, and the whiskeys didn't even come out until later.
By the time the 17,500-square-foot distillery/brewery opened three years ago, Seven Stills had created 100 different small-batch whiskeys from 100 different beers.
As Eater notes, it's not yet clear whether Seven Stills will live on as a wholesale operation, or if it may return in some smaller form, in a new location, at some point.