The Craft-Beer Scene Explodes
Faction Brewery debuts in Alameda, Ale Industries lands in Jingletown, Uptown gets Diving Dog Brewhouse, Sierra Nevada opens a Berkeley taproom, and other local brews news.
Tony McGuire at the Olde Depot.
The East Bay has always been a haven for beer lovers, whether they’re sipping pints from the source at Linden Street Brewery in Jack London Square, checking out the facilities at Drake’s Brewery in San Leandro, or exploring the selections at The Trappist and Beer Revolution. But those are just drops in the pint glass compared to the torrent of new craft-beer purveyors that have begun to arrive since early fall.
“It’s every brewer’s dream to open their own brewery someday,” says Rodger Davis, who spent more than a decade brewing award-winning beers at Drake’s, Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse, and Pyramid Breweries before going solo. Together with wife Claudia Pamparana (21st Amendment), he opened Faction Brewery, in Alameda recently, completing a boozy trifecta with neighboring St. George Spirits and Rock Wall Wine Company. The couple, who will offer everything from a quartet of seasonal IPAs to brews aged in Rock Wall’s wine barrels, chose Alameda not only for its neighborhood feel, but for its affordability: “It comes down to bigger spaces with cheaper rents,” says Pamparana.
“Our space is incredible, and much less expensive than it might be in San Francisco.”
Big, affordable spaces are reeling in more established brewers as well. Concord-based Ale Industries has been earning raves since launching in 2010, and when it began to outgrow its capacity, brewer Morgan Cox turned his sights to Oakland. “Oakland is such a mecca for foodies, wine, beer—just flavor in general,” he says. Ale Industries’ new home will be a former bucket factory at the edge of Jingletown, a block from the Fruitvale BART station. Like Faction, it’ll offer a taproom for drinkers to sample beer brewed onsite, with space for visiting food trucks.
While Faction and Ale Industries plan to put out sizable quantities of beer, smaller, first-time brewers are also finding opportunities to get in on the act. The petite Hoi Polloi Brewpub and Beat Lounge in Berkeley will feature beers by longtime homebrewer and Doemens
Academy graduate Viet Vu, while Diving Dog Brewhouse, in the heart of Uptown Oakland, will be novel in that it will allow patrons to make and bottle their own beer for at-home consumption (under supervision, of course).
With all this local activity, it’s not surprising that bigger craft brewers are also looking to make their mark on the booming East Bay beer scene. Sierra Nevada, the pioneering brewer that’s now the nation’s second-largest craft producer, will open its first taproom outside of its Chico headquarters in Berkeley, while John Martin, who owns Drake’s, Triple Rock, and Jupiter, has signed a lease for a 400-seat Uptown Oakland beer garden, to open at 23rd and Broadway next year. Beer bars are adding more taps to keep up with the growing range of offerings: Temescal’s recently opened Hog’s Apothecary has 33, while Beer Revolution’s new sister spot, The Olde Depot, boasts 40. “The whole attitude here is shifting towards artisan, whether it be beer, or chocolate, or coffee,” says Davis. “Before, it was a struggle to convince people to try an IPA, but now people choose to spend their money on a better beer.”
Three East Bay Beers to Try
ALE INDUSTRIES, GOLDEN STATE OF MIND: Ale Industries’ signature brew is an all-California wonder, made entirely from barley, oats, and wheat grown in-state. With infusions of organic chamomile, orange peel, and coriander, it’s a refreshing choice for a warm day (and at 4.4 percent ABV, low enough in alcohol to justify a second glass). Available at Beer Revolution and Trappist Provisions, Oakland.
FACTION PALE ALE: Faction’s first release is made with the recently developed Mosaic hop, which imparts a lively, tropical-fruit flavor. Like all of brewer Rodger Davis’ beers, it’s designed to “be extremely hoppy in aroma, but not in bitterness.” Available at Hog’s Apothecary, Commonwealth, Oakland.
DRAKE’S BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE IMPERIAL STOUT: The acclaimed Oakland-based roaster’s first-ever team-up with a brewery produced this rich, cocoa-y stout. Though the coffee gives it a slight caffeine buzz, at 9.5 percent ABV (nearly twice the alcohol of a regular beer), it’s meant to be sipped more slowly than your morning java. Available at Drake’s Barrel House, San Leandro (limited quantities).