Best Breweries in Oakland, CA

Breweries in Oakland, CA master their craft

By
Heather R. Johnson
On Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 04:00
Oakland, CA

Oakland, Calif., enjoyed a robust beer industry from the end of the Gold Rush Era through Prohibition. Beer production declined when mass-market brews became the norm in the 1960s. Now, thanks to a handful of creative brewmasters passionate about their hometown and hops, Oakland is experiencing a beer revival. Here are a few of Oakland’s finest offerings, as well as a couple beer pubs that are well worth a visit due to their extensive menus of hard-to-find ales. Cheers!

Pacific Coast Brewing

An Old Oakland standby, having opened in 1988, when it was one of the only games in town, Pacific Coast Brewing is a comfortable restaurant and brewpub that suits families and friends alike. The brewpub has 24 selections on tap, up to 10 of them their own. Try their uber-dark Leviathan or the Bba Sour Cherry Mermaid’s Revenge, the beer that its brewmaster wants served at his funeral. The menu offers a standard mix of fried things, sandwiches and beer-battered fish tacos. 

Diving Dog Brewhouse

Not only can you drink beer from one of Diving Do’s 30 taps, you can also make your own. The beer bar, brewery and brew-on-premises spot in Oakland’s Uptown provides DIY options for those that want to have their way with hops. The menu includes craft beers from California, Oregon, the East Coast and Louisiana. They don’t serve food, but the small spot will let you bring in food from nearby establishments. Watch for occasional pop-up kitchens, too. 

Linden Street Brewery

Linden Street Brewery was the first production brewery to come to Oakland in decades. Overflowing with Oakland pride, the small brewery produces 3,000 barrels a year using locally sourced hops, lager yeast and imported malts. Linden Street can be found in select restaurants around the East Bay, as well as in its own tasting room. Stop by on a weekend afternoon between noon and 5 p.m. to sample the Urban People’s Common Lager, a local favorite, or the Burning Oak Black Lager, which is smoother than its name suggests. 

Ale Industries

Ale Industries operates sustainably. When the owners drop off their beers at local restaurants, they often leave with vats of used vegetable oil, which they use in their delivery trucks and boiler. The small tasting room offers at least four in-house beers, including the East Bay IPA, the Rye’d Piper, and, season permitting, the Spring Fling. Located near Fruitvale BART, the Fermentation Factory features live jazz on occasion and food from a food truck parked outside.     

Independent Brewing Company

This spot serves a variety of ales under the Oakland Brewing Company name. On weekends, during limited hours, guests can sample a strawberry blonde, a spicy brew called Revolution Red, a stout, an IPA and others. The laid-back spot is both dog- and people-friendly. Bring your friends, play a board game and sample Oakland’s latest production brewery.

Woods Bar & Brewery

A relative newcomer to Oakland’s bustling Uptown bar scene, Woods Beer Co. offers house-made beers, a few guest taps and empanadas from San Francisco favorite El Porteno. Woods is best known for MateVeza, an IPA made with yerba mate. The craft brewery also serves a blonde and a wheat beer. The clean, modern décor gives the bar a more upscale feel; its location is ideal for a drink before a show at the Fox Theatre.

Faction

One of the most exciting additions to Alameda in years, Faction pours innovative takes on IPA, Pale Ale and other brews. Its 2 Hop Pale is hopped with Lemondrop and Amarillo, while the WheatWine is brewed with wheat and pale malts. Take a short tour through the brewery inside, but enjoy your beer on the outside patio, where there is fresh air, more seating and less noise. Food trucks park at Faction on Fridays. Be on the lookout for BBQs and other special events.

Trappist

Modeled after an old Belgian pub and housed inside an 1870s Victorian building in Old Oakland, Trappist serves a lengthy list of hard-to-find Belgian ales and U.S. microbrews on tap and more than 100 bottles. The roomier back bar has a different selection than the dark, cozy front bar. Whichever you choose, the bartender will properly pour your beer into the proper glass. The minimalist menu offers cheeses, Charcuterie, and other bites meant to go well with beer. [Photo by Colin Burke McClure]

Beer Revolution

Affectionately called Beer Rev, what this beer bar/bottle shop lacks in frills it makes up for in selection. The smallish narrow bar offers 50 rotating taps, which could include anything from a Hoparillo triple IPA, a Dust Bowl Pilsener or Caldera Mogli Barrel Aged Porter from Ashland, Ore. The coolers offer more than 100 bottles to drink at the bar or at home. Relax on the outdoor patio with a burger from Annex Burger next door. 

Brotzeit Boathaus & Biergarten

Situated on the Oakland waterfront in no-man’s land beyond Jack London Square, behind a Homewood Suites motel, Brotzeit, as the name suggests, has the feel of a German biergarten. Outdoor drinking and dining is a must, with waterfront views in the open air or indoors behind a wall of glass. The 30 or so beers on tap fall heavily to hard-to-find German varieties, with a few Belgian and local ales mixed in. Pair that Dunkel with sausage, a burger, or fish and chips. [Photo courtesy of Brotzeit Boathaus & Biergarten] 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Johnson is a freelance writer and Nashville native currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area.