Happy Birthday Oakland

24 May

A couple of weeks ago, while grabbing a Happy Hour pint at the Sidebar, I picked up a copy of Beer West magazine that was lying on the bar.  I came across a nice article about Oakland, California and its expanding craft beer scene.  Needless to say, I was intrigued by several of the places mentioned by the author.  The problem was that I was not going to be in Oakland anytime soon…so what’s a newbie beer blogger to do?  Sounds like a job for My buddy Chad!  A big beer enthusiast and aspiring home brewer, I knew Chad would be up for a visit to a bottle shop and another guest post with us.  What follows is just a snippet of what Chad experienced, so if you find yourself in the Bay Area make it a point to check out some thing new.

One never knows who they share a birthday with, or at least an adjacent one. Much to my surprise the City of Oakland and I are just a day apart; and we have both aged reasonably well. As a bit of celebration to myself I decided to visit an old hang out in Jack London Square called Beer Revolution. Now that I live on the other side of the Bay, it’s been awhile since I have been to BeerRev. Brian had asked me about the place, and some of Oakland’s other strong contributions to NorCal craft brewing, a few weeks back, and it was about time to take a trip back.

The Jack London District has been an area in “transition” for the last several years. Once dominated by warehouses and industrial land uses, the area owned by the Port of Oakland, has seen the addition of new mid and high residential, restaurants and entertainment over the last decade. The area, although having some shine, is still plenty rough around the edges (and the middle, with the Amtrak line running right up Jack London’s gut) and brims with lots of opportunity to do some really cool stuff. When I moved to the Bay Area a few years ago, I poked around a bit, but honestly had no reason to spend much time there until one early spring day in 2010 when I discovered BeerRev was opening.

I was so excited that I marked their opening day on my calendar. For about a year I went every few weekends to the bar/bottle shop/beer garden to sample new NorCal brews on tap and strike up conversation with random folk. BeerRev never disappoints with some really friendly and knowledgeable folks pouring or popping open whatever you would like. And they always have some great old punk rock (Germs, Ramones you name it) or vintage alt rock (the Fall for some reason comes to mind) playing. Quite often they also host “Meet the Brewer” events with some of the finest in the land.

Not being from Portland, and regrettably not really having spent much time there, the bottle shop concept is a bit lost on my dim mind. In past visits to BeerRev I always checked out what was in the coolers but never reached in to grab one for a sitting in the garden or for the road. This time was the same. Something in me just commands me to go for something from a tap versus a bottle when given the chance. Next time I promise I will venture inside their wide offering of Belgian and NorCal limited release stock. First up on this visit was an Uncommon Baltic Porter by Berkeley’s, organic Bison Brewery. Porter is my most favored varietal and I was looking to start the day with something dark and malty. Unfortunately, this one left me wanting to get something else. Of course I finished it but really it was nothing special to me.

Second up, holy smokes I picked a winner. In honor of Oakland’s 160th, I ordered up Linden Street’s Common Lager.  This is a California Common Lager that is the flag ship for Linden’s family of lagers including the very nice Burning Oak Black Lager (found all over Oakland in dive bars, upscale restaurants and music venues). There was a lot going on in this beer. At times I thought I was having a Belgian wit and others muted pale ale. The beer had some sassy spice and a veiled hoppyness in a beer that should have neither.

Happy Birthday Oakland. With places like Beer Revolution and Linden Street Brewery, you are on your way to making quite a name for yourself.  You should be proud of your brewing history, present and future.

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