Prior to our trip to Australia, Merideth and I made a run to the Bay Area to purchase beers to bring with us as gifts. As luck would have it, our beer errands turned into a celebration of East Bay beer.
Our day in the East Bay coincided with this year’s release of Drake’s Hopocalypse Double IPA. The release party at their San Leandro brewery was the first stop of the day.
Arriving late morning, Drake’s Barrel House was already quite busy. Even the outside seating was full, despite a bit of chill in the air. Several long lines formed at the bar and business at the bottle sales table was brisk. The large and enthusiastic crowd affirmed my belief that Drake’s brews some of the best beer in the land.
Besides a regular draft version, Hopocalypse was also served from a cask stuffed full of Citra hops. As an added bonus, Drake’s debuted a Triple IPA version, Hopocalypse Black Label. Our chosen line moved fairly quickly and soon enough Merideth and I were proud owners of a glass of each special brew. (Merideth, being the rebel she is, also brought a Dunkel Wilson to the table.)
Expecting an explosion of hop flavors, the cask version was delightfully mellow for a brew at 9.3% ABV and 100+ IBUs. It was well-balanced with subtle, yet assertive hop notes on both the nose and taste.
Black Label Triple IPA, with an ABV bumped up to 12.5%, was similarly well-balanced. The hops were even more muted than it’s Double cousin with only a slight alcohol taste. Both beers were dangerously drinkable considering their respective alcohol contents.
As we were finishing our beers, we noticed that the crowd at Drake’s had thinned out considerably. Then we realized everyone had the same plan as ours.
All the people who beat us out of Drake’s were now at Beer Revolution to celebrate their second anniversary. Negotiating the crowd inside to get to the bar, I marveled that this was the most crowded I had ever seen Beer Revolution.
Worried that I only had one shot at getting beers, I ordered a smorgasbord of brews: Firehouse/Highwater collaboration St. Eve’s Belgesque Goldish Strong Revolutionary Ale, Almanac Winter Wit, Marin Saison de Revolution and Cantillion Kriek.
We joined a large crowd on Beer Revolution’s outdoor deck, all enjoying the glorious February weather. Despite being at one of the best beers bars around, the day really wasn’t about the beer. Our afternoon was was spent chatting with good friends and celebrating Fraggle and Rebecca’s achievement. Congrats to them on another year of delivering fine beer to a thirsty community!
When we were up in Seattle in July, our friends Chris and Dave told of us of their November plans to visit the Bay Area. These plans included an East Bay Urban Beer Hike. As proud former East Bay-ers, the opportunity to spend a beer day in our old stomping grounds was a chance we couldn’t turn down.
The planned hike consisted of six stops and covered seven miles, from downtown Berkeley to downtown Oakland. The stops included one brewery and five beer bars, with two of the stops being new to us.
On a chilly, yet sunny Sunday morning, we got a jump on the hike by walking the little over a mile from our Oakland waterfront hotel to the Lake Merritt BART station. Our destination was downtown Berkeley and one of the landmarks of the East Bay beer scene: Triple Rock Brewery.
Our group gathered at “America’s Oldest Original Brewpub” and prepared for the day’s hike by getting some food in our bellies.
There was collective disappointment that IPAX Ale, Triple Rock’s West Coast IPA, wasn’t on that day. But this disappointment was quickly tempered by the Single Hop Experience Pacific Gem. A 5.2% ABV Pale Ale, S.H.E. was a citrusy, easy-drinking beer to start the Urban Beer Hike.
The longest leg of the day’s hike, approximately two and a half miles, took us from downtown Berkeley to the Rockridge neighbor just across the border in Oakland. Being familiar with this ground, Merideth and I took the group on the scenic route across the Berkeley campus. We regaled our fellow urban beer hikers with stories about our wonderful university and our own college years. From the Berkeley campus, we hiked straight down College Ave, reaching Barclay’s Pub in approximately an hour.
Barclay’s was packed with regulars watching the hometown Raiders play the hated Broncos. As always, it was great chatting with old friends.
After ordering a round of beers, our group crowded around the side bar. One of the joys of Barclay’s is that they consistently have Moonlight’s brews on tap. My first beer was the wonderful dark lager, Death and Taxes followed up with the equally wonderful Bony Fingers Black Lager. Our Seattle pair got to enjoy the CME IPA from Oakland’s newest brewery, Oakland Brewing Company.
It was a short walk from Barclay’s down to Telegraph Avenue and our next stop, Lanesplitter Pizza and Pub. I assume most people make the same mistake our group did and think the name refers to bowling. Walking into Lanesplitter and seeing the Racing 5 decoration, we quickly realized that our association was mistaken. The theme was auto racing, not bowling.
Slices of pizza were ordered, as well as a pitcher of Sierra Nevada Celebration. Confusion ensued as the beer delivered was a golden/amber color as opposed to the deep amber color of Sierra’s holiday staple.Tasting the beer, it clearly wasn’t Celebration. Dave took the reigns and went to talk our waitress. After a minute or so, he came back with the keg cap. Much to Merideth’s and my surprise, the beer was our Sierra Nevada California Common!
Six months on, our Beer Camp beer was still drinkable but it did lack the brightness it had when it was fresh. Even so, it was special to have what was most likely some of the last draft pints (we still have some bottles).
Once on Telegraph Avenue, it was a straight shot to downtown Oakland. The perfect stop half way on this jaunt was Commonwealth Cafe and Public House. Unfortunately, we arrived an hour after their mid-afternoon Sunday closing time. Disappointed, we proceeded on for the 20 blocks left to our next destination.
Just around dusk, we reached the main artery of downtown Oakland: Broadway. It was only a few more blocks before our group was walking through the front door of The Trappist.
Although The Trappist is a Belgian-themed establishment, it was a hometown brew that we came to drink. Our group ordered a round of Linden Street Brewery’s flagship beer Urban People’s Common Lager, a delicious California Common. Unfortunately, the beer didn’t pair so well with the 4505 Meats’ chicharrones.
I followed up my Linden Street brew with another lager from Moonlight, the light-bodied Lunatic Lager.
From The Trappist, it was only a short five block walk down Broadway to our final stop of the Urban Beer Hike: Beer Revolution. I have to admit, for Merideth and I it was our third stop at Beer Rev during our two day trip to the Bay Area.
The previous day was “Hopslosion” at Beer Revolution, where over 40 hoppy brews were on tap. Sunday, the hoppy choices were down to a paltry 30-something beers.
At the finish line, our group drank probably the consensus beer of the day, Drake’s Alpha Sessions. Light-bodied and hopped like their Double IPAs with Citra, Simcoe and German Magnum, Alpha Sessions is a delicious 3.8% ABV session beer. The perfect beer to end a long day of hiking and drinking.
Missing one stop was a disappointment, but our Urban Beer Hike reminded us what a worthy beer destination the East Bay is. Next time, a Berkeley or Oakland only hike is a definite possibility.
View all the images from our East Bay Urban Beer Hike
Bright sunshine, groups of jolly friends, and excellent beer. Lots of excellent beer.
Yesterday was the perfect day to celebrate the first beerthday of one of the East Bay’s newest and best beer establishments: Beer Revolution. They’ve come a long way in just one year and we had a great time as we joined a full house of Bay Area beer geeks and celebeerties in toasting Fraggle and Rebecca’s success.
Beer Revolution’s new 40+ tap selection was debuted for the special occasion with an all-star line up of beers, including brews from Russian River, Moylan’s, Drake’s, and Oakland’s own Linden Street. With so many to choose from it’s hard to say what stood out as the best beer of the day. I will say that 21st Amendment’s 21 Rock Triple IPA and Marin Brewing’s Comrade Kriek were among the favorites. If you have yet to visit Beer Revolution, what are you waiting for? Join the revolution!
thebeergeek.com would like to wish Rebecca and Fraggle many more brew-filled days ahead!