by Brian Stechschulte... Jul 9, 2013


You don’t typically visit a brewery to look at art. Okay, probably never, but next time you’re enjoying a few beers at 21st Amendment Brewery, pause for a moment while you walk up the mezzanine stairs. A view of San Francisco brewing history hangs on the wall.

When founders Shaun O’Sullivan and Nico Freccia opened 21st Amendment Brewery in 2000, they were part of a wave of new breweries that hit the city beginning in 1996, including ThirstyBear Brewing Company, The Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant, Golden Gate Park Brewery, Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery, Steelhead Brewing Company, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, E & O Trading Company, and Potrero Brewing Company.

Together they formed a tight-knit brewing community, and with plenty of blank walls to fill in their new space, O’Sullivan and Freccia commissioned Tobias Freccia, Nico’s brother, to paint a group portrait of the city’s brewers. According to O’Sullivan, “The whole idea was to play into our theme here. We have a historical name, some historical imagery, and we’re in an old building. We wanted to put a time stamp down on who was brewing in 2001.”

Before setting brush to canvas, Tobias Freccia met with each brewer. He had them pose in a couple of positions, snapped a few photos, and took them back to his studio. The painting was originally featured up on the mezzanine in a space that was wide horizontally, but short in height. The shape reminded Freccia of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, which he used for inspiration, both in format, and because it was symbolic of community.


The resulting work features many of the employees, brewers, and brewery owners, who were working in the city, and according to Freccia, were partying all night and having breakfast. Many are still active today, or have switched breweries. Other than the individual portraits, various objects on the dining room table convey hidden meaning or symbolism related to 21st Amendment (see below). The painting also pays homage to Fritz Maytag, who’s depicted within a portrait painting on the back wall of the fictitious space.


Painting Legend

1. John Hathaway – Steelhead Brewing Co. – Brewmaster
2. Dave McLean – Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery – Brewmaster
3. Steve Ryan – Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant – Brewmaster
4. Mike Pawlicki – San Francisco Journeyman Brewer
5. Shaun O’Sullivan – 21st Amendment Brewery – Brewmaster/Co-owner
6. Andy French – Speakeasy Ales & Lagers – Head Brewer
7. Melissa Myers – Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery – Brewer
8. Scott Turnnidge – Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant – Brewmaster
9. Frank Commanday – E & O Trading Co. – Brewmaster
10. James Renfrew – Potrero Brewing Co. – Brewmaster
11. Ron Silberstein – ThirstyBear Brewing Co. – Brewmaster
12. Alan Paul – San Francisco Brewing Co. – Owner
13. Fritz Maytag – Anchor Brewing Co. – Brewmaster
14. Tobias Freccia – Artist
15. Edward K. Blyden – 21st Amendment Brewery – Chef
16. Brian Storts – Artist
17. Nico Freccia – 21st Amendment Brewery – Co-owner


More than a decade after it’s creation the painting has begun to take on more meaning for O’Sullivan, who said “You don’t know you’re making history when you’re making it because you don’t think about it. You can look back at old pictures of the whole brewing scene, like black and white photos of the Rainier and Hamm’s Brewery. You forget that you’re part of a long-standing tradition here. The painting is a modern day example of that, but now because it’s been twelve years since it was made, it’s now part of the whole vernacular.”


Playing cards symbolic of 21st Amendment. The table also features two dice displaying two and one.


The food dishes are a nod to some long time favorites at 21st Amendment , including sweet potato soup. Freccia also included the spilled milk, as symbolism for the group not getting fussy over  little stuff as competitors.


Before Nico Freccia was co-owner of 21st Amendment, he was a writer for Celebrator Beer News. There’s also a pair of Giants tickets.


This view of the table features a San Francisco Brewing Company brochure and ThirstyBear Brewing matchbook. Also, you may have noticed that only spoons sit on the table. According to Shaun O’Sullivan, “There’s only spoons on the table because you don’t give brewers sharp objects, only spoons.”

Photos © Brian Stechschulte