Do you believe in a phoenix rising from the ashes? Did you ever hear about Oakland’s Brothers Brewing Co.? Read on.
An Oakland homebrewer Ralston Brown, a graduate of the American Berwers Guild when it was in Davis and his brother-in-law Thomas Parker and his friend, Michael LeBlanc, a former Polaroid exec, signed on and invested their savings in the company launched Brothers Brewing on the usual shoestring in 1998. Their first beer, recipe by Ralston, Brothers Honey-Brewed Amber Ale *** (my rating in 1999), contract brewed by Alec Moss at the late and still-lamented Golden Pacific Brewing in Berkeley, was a moderate hit.
It was the only African-American-owned brewery in America.
Two years down the road, they produced a lager: Brothers Golden Classic Lager, at Golden Pacific and tried to expand to urban places (guess, that’s code for heavily black neighborhoods) across the country.
They discovered that it’s impossible to beat mega-giants like Coors, Miller and Anheuser-Busch at that game; they’ve got urban black America locked up tight, a fact that still pisses me off. Don’t believe me? Check out those new Miller High Life ads. They’re not pitching to Walnut Creek (Out of state? It’s a mostly non-black San Francisco suburb.
Anyway, Brothers Brewing quietly closed their tent and folded. About the same time Golden Pacific also closed, another fact that still hurts. Capitalism’s a cruel uncaring bitch.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that Everett & Jones Barbeque, the large restaurant in Jack London Square, was a major account. Yep. You got it.
“We hated to see them fold,” co-owner John Jernegan says. “We wanted Ralston to come to work for us and brew beer here,” he adds. “But Ralston had other plans.” Besides being an excellent brewer, he never quit his day job.
So Saucey Sistah was born. It’s contract brewed; he won’t say by whom. But I’ve figured that one out and I won’t tell. Jernegan says they offered Alec Moss a job too. He bounced around a bit and is now happily brewing away at Half Moon Bay Brewing on the San Mateo Coast.
One more point about Saucey Sistah. The sexy woman on the label’s John Jernegan’s wife, Dorothy King Jernegan. Her mom, the late Dorothy Everett Sr., founded the Everett & Jones barbeque business on 92nd Avenue in East Oakland in 1973. There are several Everett & Jones Barbeques, two in Oakland, one in Alameda and one in Berkeley, each owned by a family member or members.
The Everett girls – there were eight – called themselves the “Saucey Sistahs”, her husband explains. Great name for some sexy young ladies, great name for a beer here in Oak Town too.
The E&J in Jack London Square’s the only one with a restaurant and the only one that serves beer. “I keep telling everybody to add beer and sell Saucey Sistah,” John Jernegan says. Everett & Jones is at 126 Broadway, between 2nd Street and West Embarcadero. See ya’ there tomorrow night.
Addendum. This place is becoming famous as an after-game hangout for us diehard Raiders fans. There’s even a post-game show. Food’s excellent. The boast endorsements from Whoopi Goldberg, John Madden, Jami Fox and yes – Pete Slosberg, late of Pete’s Wicked Ale.