Tap Into New Brews
A brewing renaissance shapes up in the East Bay.
Find new brews at Independent Brewing Company, above, and Diving Dog Brewhouse.
Photo by Chris Duffey
Did you know that when West Oakland’s Linden Street Brewery opened back in 2009, that it was the first production brewery to open in Oakland in 40 years? Five years later, that little fun fact is even harder to believe, given the explosion of activity in the city’s beer-making scene. Here are the newest players in Oakland’s burgeoning brewing renaissance.
Owners Morgan Cox and Stephen Lopas have come a long way. Back in 2009, they scraped together the funds to open their small operation behind a brewing supply store in an industrial section of Concord. Earlier this year, the two friends and longtime home brewers completed the move into a large new headquarters of their own in a beautifully renovated old factory space in Oakland’s up-and-coming Fruitvale district. Their distribution has grown along with their square footage: Ale Industries beer is now sold across the West Coast and even in Japan.
Pop in: Ale Industries recently debuted a taproom, christened Jingletown Jazz Room, inside the brewery located a stone’s throw from the Fruitvale BART station. It’s still a work in progress but well worth a stop for a sample of one of the six beers on tap or a tour of the facility from Cox or Lopas if the taproom is slow. The brewery is also working with regulators to be allowed to sell to-go growlers, so look for that soon.
Tap this: California State of Mind. Fragrant and light with notes of chamomile and orange peel, it was Ale Industries’ first beer, and it’s still a classic—and a refreshing change of pace from super hoppy IPAs so prevalent these days.
Last call: Ale Industries co-owner Cox is a bit of a do-it-yourselfer and jury-rigged a biofuel boiler for brewing. These guys also operate an electric forklift and distribute via a biodiesel truck, with the eventual goal of running a carbon-neutral operation.
3096 E 10th St., Oakland, 925-470-5280, www.AleIndustries.com
Independent Brewing Company
Longtime Oakland resident Steve McDaniel has spent that last 15 years in the local beer industry, working at 21st Amendment in San Francisco (which itself is in the process of moving to the East Bay, to San Leandro) before helping found Oakland Brewing Company a few years ago. He’s since taken over sole operation of OBC (which contract-brews out of a facility in San Jose) and started up Independent Brewing Company, a small-batch production brewery that he moved into a new space between Chinatown and Jack London Square earlier this year.
Tap this: Oakland Brewing Company is known for its Sticky Zipper IPA, but McDaniel’s Independent Brewing Company line is more experimental, focusing on extremely small production of limited-edition beers, including sours and barrel-aged offerings in addition to pale ales and pilsners.
Pop in: McDaniel is working on a 1,000-foot taproom—and eventually an outdoor 5,000-square-foot outdoor beer garden—but that’s still several months away. In the meantime, check Independent’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/IndependentBrewingCompany, for info on periodic open houses and tours—you might just get a sample of the latest offerings.
Last call: When McDaniel says small batch, be means it: He brews his beers 12 kegs at a time, which means if you see it on tap, order it, because it may be gone by the next day. Independent brews are available semi-regularly on tap at a few Oakland bars, including Barclay’s, Beer Revolution, and The Forge.
444 Harrison St., 510-698-BEER, www.IndependentBrewing.com
Woods Bar & Brewery
Owner of two popular beer bars in San Francisco, Jim Woods’ eponymous East Bay operation just debuted in the heart of Uptown Oakland in September. Unlike his San Francisco bars, Woods is actually brewing his own beer on site, on the second floor above the bar in the former Roscil’s Shoes location at the corner of Telegraph Avenue and 17th Street, just a few doors down from the Fox Theater.
Pop in: The bar portion of this project is quite a stunner. Woods went the extra mile to restore the beautiful original façade of the 1927-era building. The interior, meanwhile, sports a high-ceilinged front patio complete with expansive windows, a fire pit, and hovering orb lights, while the back bar has an austere, almost Scandinavian vibe between the white tile, black brick walls, and a light wood ceiling.
Tap this: This isn’t your typical IPA and pale ale kind of beer menu. Woods gets a little creative with his offerings, mixing in ingredients such as yerba mate tea, lime zest, and charred manzanita branches to create some eclectic offerings. To get the full effect, the four-beer sampler is a great way to go.
Last call: The Greyhound, made with Belgian yeast, was named as a tribute to the infamous specialty cocktails so popular at Woods’ next-door neighbor, Café Van Kleef. Also, don’t miss the excellent empanadas made by San Francisco’s El Porteño.
1701 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, www.WoodsBeer.com
Diving Dog Brewhouse
After battling the city of Oakland for more than a year, owner Rob Bailard finally debuted his Diving Dog Brewhouse on Oct. 3. And upon hearing the concept, it’s easy to see how the city’s permitting bureaucrats could have been thrown for a loop. In addition to operating as a bar, at Diving Dog customers can actually create their own custom batches of beer—from picking the yeast, to fermenting, to bottling—during two-hour guided brewing sessions.
Pop in: Diving Dog is located right in the thick of things, occupying a location that bridges the gap between Telegraph Avenue and Broadway in the heart of Uptown Oakland.
Tap this: The bar offers 30 craft beers on tap any given time—so if you’re not brewing your own, there’s still plenty of beer to drink.
Last call: Bailard does plan to introduce food at some point, but for now, customers can order and bring in eats from Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café across the street and Fat Cat Café a couple doors down.
1802 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-457-1148, www.DivingDogBrew.com