Perfect Labor Day Brews
Whether you're savoring summer or looking forward to fall, we've rounded up the East Bay's best beers for celebrating this weekend.
Let’s be honest: Labor Day’s final summer grill outs are best enjoyed with a beer in hand, as you savor summer’s lingering rays before temperatures start turning chilly. Kick back with these East Bay easy summer sippers, or start venturing into the spicy, malty flavors of falls upcoming brews. You can pick them up from retailers like BevMo, order them on draft at local restaurants, or swing by the local breweries and taprooms to sample the beers at the places they were created.
Our favorite summer beer: Orange Kush, a wheat beer brewed with chamomile, orange peel and coriander, which gives it a refreshing quality without the filmy feel found in other wheat beers.
Get ready for fall: Try the brewery’s Evolution (coming out mid-September), which starts as a strong English brown ale. Once the batch is half sold, Ale Industries will blend a new beer into the batch, until that one is half sold and another beer is introduced, and so on and so forth. Each version (which are also barrel aged) will taste different, and the barrel-aging means the style will continually evolve. 975 Detroit Ave., Concord, (925) 470-5280, aleindustries.com.
Black Diamond Brewing Company
Summer Favorite: Black Diamond’s seasonal Wheat Whacker, which is light in body but with a kick of Pacific Northwest hops to give it a citrusy quality and place it a step above typical summer suds. Pilsner and wheat malt lend the brew a subtle hint of clove and fresh cut grass, and dry hopping adds subtle fruity apricot notes.
Get ready for fall: Black Diamond’s signature Steep Trail Amber Ale, a creamy brew with hints of toffee, plums and hazelnuts and a rich, full malt character. 2470 Bates Ave., Concord, (925) 356-0120, bdbrewing.com.
Bison Brewing Company
Summer favorite: Saison de Wench, a session beer with notes of rose petals, hibiscus, and peppery spice. The beer is refreshingly tart with a dry, spicy finish.
Get ready for fall: As soon as the leaves turn, hunt down the Gingerbread Ale, a delicately spiced holiday porter brewed with ginger, nutmeg, and a touch of cinnamon. 2030 Fifth St., Berkeley, bisonbrew.com.
Summer Favorites: Aroma Coma India Pale Ale, which boasts huge citrus, pine, and floral notes. Blink and you’ll miss its sister Aroma Prieta India Pale Ale, which has huge notes of tropical fruit, gooseberries, and grapefruit from New Zealand hops.
Get ready for fall: Drake’s Red Eye Ale, a deep copper red brew with a malty sweetness. High hops keep it from getting too sweet and give the ale a spicy finish. 1933 Davis St., San Leandro, (510) 568-2739, drinkdrakes.com.
Summer favorite: American Wheat, a crisp and refreshing American take on the German Hefeweizen. The Duck Face Pilsner, with its malty aroma and spicy floral hop bouquet, is “perfect for days full of football, BBQ, or just because you feel like it.”
Get ready for fall: Bocktagon, E.J. Phair’s take on the traditional German bock beer, features a subtle caramel-like sweetness and toasted bread maltiness with a high eight-percent ABV. 200 E. 3rd St., Pittsburg, (925) 252-9895, 300 Cumberland St., Pittsburg, (925) 427-7204, ejphair.com.
Summer favorite: Jupiter’s Hefeweizen, a Bavarian-style wheat beer with banana-like esters and a light finish. The Honey Wheat is made using locally grown honey, wheat, and Munich malts, and is marked by a slightly sweet finish.
Get ready for fall: The deep copper Red Spot Ale has a recognizable malty sweetness and high hop bitterness and aroma, with a spicy finish. 2181 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 843-8277, jupiterbeer.com.
Pacific Coast Brewing Company
Summer favorite: pearl golden ale, a summer, extra pale ale available seasonally.
Get ready for fall: Old Oakland Ale, a Burton-style ale brewed with French oak, to produce a very oaky, malty, dark amber ale. 906 Washington St., Oakland, (510) 836-2739, pacificcoastbrewing.com.
Summer favorite: Curveball Blonde Ale, a drinkable summer seasonal, with a crisp, clean flavor.
Get ready for fall: Oktoberfest, whose strong malt backbone is delicately balanced with hop bitterness for a rich caramel flavor. 1410 Locust St., Walnut Creek, (925) 946-1520, pyramidbrew.com.
Summer favorite: Pinnacle Pale Ale, which is light and refreshing with a clean hop finish. Also look for the Session Scottish ale, the seasonal currently on tap.
Get ready for fall: Dragons Milk Brown Ale, and aromatic dry-hopped brown ale that tastes of roasted chocolate and coffee. Catch it when you can, because it only rotates onto the taps occasionally. 1920 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 843-2739, triplerock.com.