Hamm’s In San Francisco

A friend and regular reader sent me this old photograph of the Hamm’s brewery sign at night, taken in San Francisco around 1954, the year the Hamm’s Brewery opened. It’s a nighttime shot of the iconic Hamm’s sign on the roof of the brewery that was located at 1550 Bryant Street. When it was built, “it was the largest commercial sign on the West Coast.” The brewery closed in 1972, and sign taken down three years later, in 1975. According to Wikipedia, it was a “20-by-80 foot sign, with a 3-dimensional 13-foot beer chalice on top, [and] appeared in the first Dirty Harry film. In the early 1980s, the beer vats were first squatted and then rented out to punk rock bands. Known as “The Vats,” the brewery was a center of San Francisco punk rock culture with about 200 bands using individual vats as music studios. The building was renovated in the mid 1980s and converted into offices and showroom space.” In 2012, the Chronicle did a piece about the sign’s fate, What happened to the Hamm’s Brewery sign?, that included additional photos taken during the day, but the sign looks most impressive at night, and it was even animated, with neon rings of beer turning on and off in sequence, so the glass of beer looked like it was emptying and then filling up again.



  1. beerman49 says

    I saw that sign a few times as a kid (when we drove up from Fresno); it may have been around when I was out here 2/75, but I don’t recall. Nonetheless, it was a great sign.

  2. Sallie Sellers says

    My grandfather was a distributor for Hamms beer. My father worked with him so i got alll the memorabilia. I have silver trays with the bear on it and a charm bracelet with a beer mug. He was a distributor in Vacaville ca. Lots of great memories as a kid the family day you got to tour the brewery.

  3. jojosam sam says

    Our family had a friend who lived on Bernice right off 13th (or Division). When we stayed there around 1970 I could look out the window and see that sign.

  4. Donald Marsh says

    As a kid growing up in San Francisco mom and dad would load us kids up in the car and I still remember driving past this sign in the evening watching in awe as this huge beer glass would fill up complete with its foamy froth ontop on our way to and from the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge… Sure is sad how so many of our great signs and landmarks have vanished…

  5. Frank says

    One of my fondest memories of the REAL San Francisco. My parents would take us to The City from San Mateo for a night out or after a Giants game. I loved driving on the central freeway and watching the beer glass fill up from the back of our Kingswood Estate. I am sad those days are gone the sign is gone and the true San Francisco is just a memory. Too bad no video exists it was an awe inspiring spectacle.

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