CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 3 Oakland Pubs
Lucky 13, 1301 Park Street, Alameda, California
Beer Revolution, 464 Third Street, Oakland, California
The Trappist, 460 Eighth Street, Oakland, California
Two months ago during my California visit I spent 4 days in the Bay Area and further north to explore pubs and breweries with Mistah Rick. As I flew in and out of Oakland Airport, my first and last pints of the trip were in Oakland and neighbouring Alameda.
The largest city of the East Bay, Oakland is the seat of Alameda County and the busiest port in San Francisco Bay. It was the western terminal of the Transcontinental Railroad. Today it's one of the most ethnically diverse major cities in the US. And it's also the home of Mistah Rick.
From the airport we headed directly to Lucky 13, our first stop. We sat at the bar and took in the black-cat motif that surrounded us. As we had a busy evening ahead we had quick halfs -- yes, one can finally get half pints in America -- of Racer 5 IPA (7.0% ABV, Bear Republic Brewing, Cloverdale, California). This was a good orangey-hoppy zippy little half with which to start my pub crawl. Considering I was in Southern California for family business which was a bit stressful, this half pint was also celebrating the commencement of my real holiday. Rick told me that this beer is the result of an accident at the brewery, and I immediately imagined an exploding tangerine. It's got a bitter tangerine character to the hoppy burst.
Lucky 13 offers over 20 draft beers and over 40 bottled selections, not to mention a collection of fine spirits and local wines by the bottle. The pub is equipped with a pool table, pinball machines, a jukebox, and an old black and white photo booth. Outside in the beer garden we found Johnny Cash flipping the bird in the direction of Popeye. It's just so Bay Area-ish...
On the last afternoon of my beer tour before returning to Long Beach we stopped off at Beer Revolution. I especially wanted to stop here to buy a souvenir t-shirt for Andrew, as Beer Revolution's logo definitely appealed to me. Sadly they had sold out of their t-shirts long ago and never did another printing, so they had nothing sartorial to offer me. But they had plenty to offer in the way of brews.
Once again Rick recognised some familiar faces inside. He told me the owner of Beer Revolution is Fraggle, aka Comrade Barley, which seems a promising nickname. Standing at the bar we had a taste of Muffin Top (10% ABV, Clown Shoes Brewery, Ipswich, Massachusetts) which was intensely alcoholic in nature, and I could imagine our feet growing large and our noses turning red with only one sip. We had another taste of Belgo IPA (10% ABV, New Belgium Brewery, Fort Collins, Colorado). This has a distinct Belgian hops punch, but again the alcohol hits your nose (bomp!) before anything else.
We decided to order two pints to share in the sunny beer garden out front. Our first choice was One Inch Punch IPA (7.0% ABV, Line 51 Brewing Company, Oakland, California). This is an amber brew that had no trace of a head and seemed a bit "new brewery" in taste: it was hoppy and bitter but otherwise expressed little in the way of character. The other pint we shared was much better: Sculpin' IPA (7.0% ABV, Ballast Point Brewery, San Diego, California). Once again this was a gorgeous pint, but somehow it was a bit different than the previous two pints I'd had of this beer. It was a bit more perfumey and less Abbeydale Deception-like.
According to Rick the pub, which wasn't too busy on this Saturday afternoon, often gets packed with anniversary parties and whatnot, so much so that one has to use a machete to get through to the bar. So when any events are on it's best to arrive early -- perhaps a day or two.
Before we left I had a half of Wipeout IPA (6.9% ABV, Port Brewing, San Marcos, California) which was in the same ballpark as Sculpin' IPA but the waves weren't quite as high. Rick's half was of Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA (8.3% ABV, Firestone Walker Brewers, Paso Robles, California). The malt aroma hit my nose first (but not like a clown's bat) and settled into that black-IPA hop punch. This is a very interesting beer, and I ended up with pure hops on my tongue. This is another full-length novel of a beer.
As we had enough time for only one more pub before my flight back to SoCal, we popped over to the nearby Trappist. This cavernous pub has a front bar, a back bar, and a patio bar, with seating at the bars and at scattered tables. We sat in the front bar at the counter so we could chat with the barman while we shared two pints. The first pint was Femme Fatale Blanc (6.0% ABV, Evil Twin Brewery, Brooklyn, NY). Brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops this beer is advertised as having gone through 100% Brett fermentation. The result is a uniquely subtle brew with a subtle perfume, subtle lightly spiced hops and a soft cloud aroma. It's not cloudy, but it smells of clouds, perhaps of ozone. The second pint was Jambe de Bois (8.0% ABV, Brasserie De La Senne, Brussels, Belgium). Served in a tulip-shaped glass this imparts an intensely grapefruity aroma before you even taste it. I love grapefruit but I'm allergic to it, so I enjoy the chance to taste it without any pain. I could just sniff and sniff this beer. If you fill your nose with the grapefruit smell and then taste it, you get the entire grapefruity experience. It's great for the many people who can't eat grapefruit because of allergies or medications. I love this beer!
We ordered a cheese board for a late lunch that was very nice as well. Before we left we decided to share one more pint. We had a taste of Emelisse Espresso Stout (9.5% ABV, Brouwerij Emelisse, Kamperland, Netherlands) which was too sweet, sadly. I'd call it a Turkish coffee stout instead, which I enjoy occasionally as a coffee experience but which does not appeal to me as a beer experience. We decided on a pint of Buxton Tsar Imperial Stout (9.5% ABV, Buxton Brewery, Buxton, Derbyshire) simply because it was from my neck of the woods. This is a classic stout, very roasty and toasty like coffee beans.
Thus I ended my Northern California microbrew tour with a proper British coffeebeer. Stranger things have happened.
(Last updated 23 October 2017)