East Bay Beer Map
By: Sarah Medina, Designed by Brad Amorosino
This story is brought to you by the great people over at the Bold Italic. The Bold Italic is an online magazine, shop, and events hub in San Francisco. We celebrate the free-wheeling spirit of the city.
Served only by the liter and just one day a week, the Monkey Head Arboreal Ale makes Triple Rock the place to be on a Thursday night. The Berkeley brewpub’s co-owners, brothers John and Reid Martin, are considered the founding fathers of the industry, and their beers have the taste of something well aged to perfection.
Pyramid was founded in the Pacific Northwest and set up shop in a warehouse in Berkeley in 1997 before adding another location in Walnut Creek in 2002. The Single Hop IPA is unique to the Berkeley location and is just one of the delicious choices to be found at this alehouse. The brew is a robust beer, so pull up a chair and enjoy the ride.
The citrus notes in Elevation 66’s East Bay IPA make it perfect for the Golden State. The El Cerrito brewery always features six in-house beers and a rotating menu of other Bay Area microbrews, so something is sure to catch your fancy.
Trumer Pils, the maker of a traditional pilsner brewed in Austria for more than 400 years, opened its only U.S. brauerei in Berkeley in 2003. The Berkeley Trumer is made with traditional ingredients imported from Austria, but it’s mixed with fresh water from the Sierra Nevadas. Since its creation, the East Bay beer has won the World Beer Cup Gold Medal three times. Enough said.
If the city is SF, then the town is Oakland. Linden Street Brewery tips its hat to its home turf with this lager, suitable for all occasions. Just like the Gold Rush pioneers, Linden Street makes this light beer with lager yeast, but it’s fermented at ale temperatures so it’s naturally carbonated and unfiltered. You’ll never find this beer outside of Oakland. The brewery serves its brews only on draft. Even better, it transports its products to local bars in a custom-made bicycle that can hold two kegs at a time.
Pacific Coast Brewing Company’s house pale ale – with its perfect combination of bitter and sweet – is sure to provide a whale of a good time. Perfect for the adventurous drinker, the Pacific Coast brewpub also offers more than 24 beers on tap. Plus, it’s furnished with old treasures acquired from the Oakland Museum, including an elaborate stained-glass window, an ornate bar, and a vintage bar cooler. Having a beer here is the closest you’ll ever come to Oakland in its glory days.
The Jolly Rodger started out as an American barleywine, but since its inception, it has changed its color and form every year, returning to its original state in 2012. Make sure to visit Drake’s on the first Friday of the month, when the brewery opens its outdoor lot for a party complete with beer, live music, and a foray of food trucks. Proceeds from the party benefit local schools and nonprofits, so you can tell yourself you’re drinking for the good of the neighborhood.
Buffalo Bill’s in downtown Hayward has been making its amber Pumpkin Ale every autumn since 1985. The brewery was the first to revive the old American tradition of making beer from the orange gourd, a technique that founding father George Washington used. Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale is light in body, spiced with cinnamon, and refreshingly effervescent. No Halloween or Thanksgiving is complete without it.
Jack’s is one of the best sports bars in the East Bay, housing 20 HD TVs and a ginormous 10-foot screen. But what should really bring you here is the Penalty Shot Porter. A very dark beer that’s heavy on the chocolate and black malts, the Penalty Shot goes down thick and is best accompanied with one of Jack’s delicious burgers. This beer is perfect for a weekend spent cheering on the A’s or the Raiders.
Brewed with clover honey and fresh whole-leaf basil, this beer makes for a unique drinking experience. It’s floral and virtually hopless, with hints of caramel, a pleasant basil aftertaste, and a crisp finish. Upon receiving certification in 2003, Bison Brewing became one of the first completely organic breweries in the world. Sadly, it's the only brewery on the list you can't visit, but it's worth seeking out its beers where they're available.
In the heart of downtown Berkeley, Jupiter’s outdoor patio and solid selection of house craft beers keep the bar packed on any night of the week with locals and Cal students alike. Jupiter even has gluten-free beer on tap (it is Berkeley, after all), but its home-brewed Honey Wheat stands out for the sweet aftertaste of locally grown wild honey.
It’s hard to choose just one drink from The Trappist, an amazing beer oasis that’s located in Old Oakland, since its selection is so grand and changes so frequently. The best thing to do is come to this tavern at least once a week to sample what specialty brews they’ve got on their 28 rotating taps that day; and don’t forget that the front bar and the back bar have different selections.
Ledger’s isn’t the fanciest liquor store, but it’s been faithfully serving a wide array of brews for more than 75 years. After Prohibition, Grandma and Grandpa Ledger were granted the 14th liquor license in California, and they’ve been accumulating an amazing selection of beers ever since. The Casey Jones Imperial IPA, from Iron Springs Pub & Brewery in Fairfax, is just one of the rare finds you’ll come across here. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, just ask owner Ed Ledger; he’s always willing to help.
Most famous for its giant produce selection and organic bulk bins, independent supermarket Berkeley Bowl also has an impressive selection of microbrews hidden between all that granola. From Calicraft Brewing Company in Walnut Creek, Buzzerkeley, a Belgian strong ale, is the perfect nightcap to pick up from the Bowl, along with your dinner.
Having one of the best selections in the Bay Area, Oakland’s Beer Revolution offers hundreds of different bottled beers, in addition to its impressive array of 48 different taps. For Beer Rev’s second anniversary, Arne Johnson of Marin Brewing Company created the delicious Saison de Revolution, perfect for sipping on any given night of the week while perched on a wooden barrel in this cozy tavern.
Cato’s on Piedmont Avenue changes its tap brews on the regular so that they’ve always got a good selection of more than 20 local craft beers. Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Elder is a Bay Area staple, perfect for Cato’s Monday trivia nights or its performances by live bands on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
The much anticipated Pink Drank was released just in time for summer festivities in 2013. A sour blonde ale aged in oak barrels and topped with Cascadian raspberries (yum!), this delicious brew is reason enough to head to the East Bay suburb and is sure to help you beat the heat – or fog – all summer long.
With the closing of UC Berkeley’s on-campus pub, The Bear’s Lair, in 2012, Pappy’s – named after Cal’s most famous football coach and conveniently located two blocks away from campus – stepped up to fill some pretty big shoes. What solidified its position in Berkeley beer patrons’ hearts was the adoption of “Beat the Clock.” Starting at 4 p.m., pitchers are $6 and get $1 more expensive with every passing hour.
There's so much great beer in the East Bay that we couldn't possibly fit them all into one story (or poster). We had to leave off a few noteworthy places, either because they weren't open at the time the story was created, or because we wanted to represent a larger diversity of spots in the East Bay. Just in case this wasn't enough beer for you, though, here's a few more brew hubs to check out on the other side of the bay:
Brotzeit Lokal, Oakland
Albany Taproom, Albany
510 Brewing, Fremont
Commonwealth Cafe and Public House, Oakland
Hog's Apothecary, Oakland
Sierra Nevada, Berkeley
Rare Barrel, Berkeley
Did we miss any? Do you know of a cool new beer spot coming to the East Bay? What are your favorite local brews? Let us know in the comments section.
Want a copy of this map for your very own? Brad Amorosino designed a special East Bay Beer Map poster that we're selling in the shop. Or if you're looking for the San Francisco Beer Map poster, designed by Loren Purcell, you can find it in the shop, too!
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