Must-Visit East Bay Taprooms
Check out a few of the East Bay’s newest brewery-taprooms.
This was the year of beer in the East Bay. Since January, more than half a dozen brewery-taprooms have opened to thirsty beer aficionados, offering craft brews, live music, family-friendly games, and food-truck bites. Here are seven spots to visit now.
Epidemic Ales, Concord
Enter Epidemic Ales’ tucked-away tasting room through a roll-up garage door, where you’ll find apocalyptic suds (such as the Zombrew IPA), a huge screen for sports fanatics, table and board games (including giant Jenga), and a kids' playroom. The brewery specializes in bold and unique brews, and all things doomsday. Don't forget to grab beer-friendly fare from one of the rotating food trucks parked out front. (Our favorite is Slice of Italeigh Pizza Truck, which offers New York–style slices and house-made hot sauce.)
Drink this: A decadent dessert and beer rolled into one, the Nightshade Bourbon Barrel-Aged Vanilla Stout is full-bodied and smooth with a vanilla aroma.
Bonus: The kid- and dog-friendly taproom hosts a number of events, including experimental beer release parties. (925) 566-8850, epidemicales.com.
Novel Brewing Co., Oakland
“When someone drinks a beer, they usually start to tell a story.” That’s the spirit Brian Koloszyc and Teresa Tamburello want to tap into at Novel Brewing Co. Koloszyc, a former English and philosophy major (and once an aspiring writer), and Tamburello, whose family runs a printing business, brew beer in the American, English, German, Irish, and Belgian styles. Step into the book-filled taproom, where beer flights are served in hollowed-out novels, and you’ll find families playing board games, beer lovers reading, and the occasional four-legged friend.
Drink this: Yabba Dabba, a spicy Belgian dubbel with notes of dark fruit and bubble gum.
Bonus: The brewery hosts monthly events, including trivia nights on the second Tuesday of the month and Q&A sessions with local authors. (510) 922-9974, novelbrewing.com.
Temescal Brewing, Oakland
This brewery/taproom/beer garden aims to add good vibes to the Temescal neighborhood, with rotating taps, food trucks, and (eventually) art shows. Order at the bar backed by white subway tiles, where you'll find a wide variety of house-brewed beers, ranging from easy-drinking ales and pilsners to hop-heavy IPAs.
Drink this: While the beers on tap rotate constantly, Summer Sweater, a scotch ale that mimics a light winter beer, was fall’s most popular brew.
Bonus: Succulents planted in cinder blocks and wooden picnic tables line the colorful fences—painted by local artists—that surround the hip outdoor beer garden. Visit in the evening, when twinkling lights illuminate the dog- and kid-friendly garden, and munch on free popcorn as you sip. (510) 899-5628, temescalbrewing.com.
Calicraft Brewing Co., Walnut Creek
You’ve probably seen Calicraft Brewing Co.’s California-inspired brews in your grocery store or at a local restaurant, but now you can slide up to its chic bar at the brewery’s new taproom in the Shadelands development. Owner Blaine Landberg has been brewing since his college days at UC Berkeley, and his team uses local ingredients to make quality craft beers. Order at the 12-tap bar, and take your suds into the tasting room, where you can sit at makeshift barrel tables and sip under geometric lights next to a life-sized “beer blueprint.”
Drink this: The beer that got Landberg started—his first dorm-room brew, Buzzerkeley. This sparkling ale hovers somewhere between beer and wine.
Bonus: Challenge your buddy to a game of cornhole, grab food from one of the rotating food trucks, or enjoy the sunshine in an Adirondack chair out front. Landberg also plans to add bocce courts and solar-powered hop gardens. (925) 478-8103, calicraft.com.
Farm Creek Brewing Company, Walnut Creek
Randy and Heather Janinda moved to California to work at Twitter, but they ended up opening a craft brewery instead. “If you take a snapshot of the Bay Area from the top, [most of] your beer is coming from Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro. Why shouldn’t more be coming from this side of the East Bay?” asks Randy. The resulting Farm Creek Brewing Company is a family affair: The Janindas’ 10-year-old son buses tables on weekends, and their daughter runs the taproom when she’s home from college. The brewery is popular for its light lagers and stouts—as well as Southern-style hospitality. (The Janindas hail from Georgia.) Sip at the reclaimed-wood bar, in a rocking chair, or on the second level above the beer tanks in this barn-inspired tasting room.
Drink this: Favorite Daughter, an amber ale with big flavor, a rye taste, and a smoky finish.
Bonus: The kid- and dog-friendly taproom has a front porch and Southern feel. While Farm Creek doesn’t offer food, guests can bring their own. Stay tuned for live music and food trucks. (925) 818-2164, farmcreekbrewing.com.
Danville Brewing Company, Danville
The Alamo-based Maita family, who have been in the alcohol business since just after Prohibition, partnered with Randy Negi, the owner of Danville’s Bridges Restaurant and Bar to create a lively craft beer and food joint in the historic Danville Hotel. Sit at the bar, order some grub, and chat with head brewer Matt Sager, a UC Davis Master Brewers Program graduate who has been making award-winning brews for two decades.
Drink this: Danville IPA. This crisp IPA has notes of pine and grapefruit.
Bonus: Grab a stool at the bar, and catch a game on one of the flat-screen TVs hanging above the taps. Or snag a spot on the patio for an alfresco experience. Inside, watch the brewmasters at work through the large floor-to-ceiling windows that look in on the brewery. (925) 217-4172, danvillebrewing.com.
East Brother Beer Co., Point Richmond
Opening: November (as of press time)
At East Brother Beer Co., you won’t find a heavy lineup of double and triple IPAs. Instead, you’ll discover a return to the classics: smooth lagers, aromatic pilsners, and citrusy wheat beers created by head brewmaster Peter Landman, who hails from Deschutes Brewery. Expect a warehouse vibe and communal tables, a bocce court, Ping-Pong, cornhole, and live music throughout the week.
Drink this: The Red IPA, a smooth IPA that won’t hit you with a mouthful of hops.
Bonus: Outdoorsy types can hit the hiking trails surrounding the brewery in the hills of Point Richmond. (510) 230-4081, eastbrotherbeer.com.