Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Oakland’s Beer Scene Gets National Attention

By Jay Brooks
Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 11:58 am in On Beer.

Today is the second Tuesday of June and that means we dive once more into the mind of Tom Dalldorf, the publisher of the Celebrator Beer News, the nationally distributed “brewspaper” that’s headquarted in Hayward.

Tom Dalldorf

Celebrating Beer with Tom Dalldorf

Oakland’s Beer Scene Gets National Attention

The National Homebrewers Association meeting takes place in Oakland June 18–20 at the Oakland Convention Center/Marriott Hotel. Oakland has been a part of the burgeoning bay area beer scene for over 20 years. The Celebrator Beer News was in its second year of existence the last time the AHA met in Oakland. Among the huge crown of homebrewers from all over the country were professional brewers and a few of the nation’s beer journalists including the late Michael Jackson who was fascinated by the quality of the local beers and the extraordinary efforts on the part of some of the homebrewers as well.

I thought about that event twenty years ago last Saturday afternoon sitting in the warm sun by the window at The Trappist Belgian beer bar around the corner from the convention site. I considered how much the beer scene had changed since the Beer Hunter was in Oakland for that event. He enjoyed the fledgling Pacific Coast Brewery on Washington just a few doors down from the Convention Center and the wonderful pub food they managed to squeeze out of its tiny kitchen. The Pacific Coast beers were already well known as the best example of extract brewing in the country and its brewmaster, Don Gortemiller, was sought after as a speaker an expert on the subject.

I considered how different the beer scene is today and wondered what Michael would have made of it. Oakland now has a new microbrewery in its formative stages, Linden Street, and a well-established alehouse scene including Barclay’s, Ben & Nick’s, Cato’s, Luka’s Taproom and the nearly two year-old The Trappist pub with its rich, warm dark wood paneling and extensive exotic bottle collection. I think Michael would have loved the effort put into the place by The Trappist owners and staff to recreate the passion and atmosphere found in many of the beer pubs of Belgium.

If you’ve yet to discover the beery treasures in Oakland, do it before the AHA gets to town. Every beer destination will be packed during the short time the national group will be in residence. But we “locals” can and should appreciate these places on a regular basis. There’s no beer place like home.

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