Beer Issue: ‘Plank to Pint’

Iron Springs Pub & Brewery to open in downtown San Rafael

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The Altman family stands in front of the soon-to-be-opened San Rafael location of their Fairfax-based Iron Springs Pub & Brewery. Photo by Tanya Henry.

It’s getting easier to experience a taste of Fairfax in San Rafael these days. First, Taste Kitchen & Table brought their refined pastries and espresso drinks to Copperfield’s Books, and come late fall, Iron Springs Pub & Brewery plans to open a satellite taproom on the corner of Fourth Street and Lootens Place.

It’s hard to remember a time before Iron Springs, but 13 years ago, Mike and Anne Altman arrived in Marin County from Boulder, Colorado and seemingly overnight wove their way into the fabric of Fairfax’s tight-knit community. Named after a popular mountain biking road, Iron Springs has been catering to everyone from cyclists, to families, to out-of-town hikers and die-hard regulars who come in for their favorite brews and sports on the flatscreen TVs. On most weekends, it’s common to see dogs, kids, couples and entire families enjoying the brewery’s outdoor picnic tables while nibbling on Iron Springs’ irresistible garlic French fries.

“We had been looking for another space in San Rafael for quite a while,” explains Anne, who along with holding down another job and caring for the couple’s two elementary school-aged boys, is very much involved in getting their second brewpub up and running.

“I’m here everyday,” says Mike, who notes that the right location was critical for them, as they will be transporting kegs of beer between locations (there won’t be any beer production at the new site).

Conveniently, the Altmans are working closely with the next-door tenant and owner of the building, Crome Architecture. Plans for an enclosed patio, seating for 69 and a stage for live music are all in the works for the 2,600-foot gutted space that was most recently home to a Persian rug retailer. One entire wall that faces Lootens Place will boast floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing for plenty of light to stream into the coveted corner spot.

“It’s great that we get to build the space out exactly the way we want it,” the two explain. “We also hope to eventually offer some outdoor seating along Lootens like we do in Fairfax.”

The Iron Springs taproom will serve up a similar menu that will be prepared onsite, so downtown San Rafael workers and residents can look forward to hot sandwiches, burgers and salads. And of course their well-crafted and well-loved Casey Jones Imperial IPA, Kent Lake Kolsch and Epiphany Red Ale (among others) will also be on tap. Look for a commemorative brew to celebrate the late November or December opening—or as Mike says in reference to the ground-up build-out, “from plank to pint.”

Iron Springs Pub & Brewery has become synonymous with quality craft beer. The Altmans have built a strong team of brewers and have collected numerous awards along the way—including multiple Pacific Sun Best of Marin Best Microbrew awards. And five of the brewery’s most popular beers are now available in cans and bottles in several Bay Area stores.

Iron Springs’ winning combination of high-quality brews, a family-friendly vibe and a strong sense of community makes it a go-to favorite for locals. If the Altmans can achieve what they have in Fairfax, San Rafael folks are in for a treat.

Iron Springs Pub & Brewery, 901 Fourth St. (at Lootens Place), San Rafael, opening soon; 765 Center Blvd., Fairfax; ironspringspub.com.

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