With beer culture hitting its stride, no other city understands the importance of brew tastings than Oakland. This East Bay Area city takes beer to heart. Breweries are opening their doors for curious tasters to come and sample one, two, or six of their carefully crafted beers.
Federation Brewing concentrates on only two things: their beer and their patrons. The bartenders are knowledgeable to the point of being able to fill up the four-beer sampler of their in-house brews. Varying on seasonal and limited edition beers, Federation usually consists of ten drafts of creative concoctions on-tap. There’s no frills or cute gimmicks at this tavern and tasting room, just crafted ale and skillful brewers striving to create the next best beer for their loyal following to taste.
Diving Dog Brewhouse was established for beer lovers, by beer lovers. This small-batch brewery features 30 beers on tap, all open for tastings. Diving Dog’s brewed-on-the-premises beers also accompany unique brews made by other Oakland locals, so what’s available is always a surprise. At the Brewhouse, patrons handpick their own flights to create a one-of-kind beer tasting experience. The space adheres to a minimalistic aesthetic, with exposed brick walls lined with barrels of fermenting ale, and copper wiring running along the ceilings. Tastings are available at any given time for the ever-changing brew selection.
As the name suggests, this book-themed tasting room features a library of brews for sampling. On a regular basis, Novel Brewing Company adds 15 freshly made beers to its lineup on-tap, allowing for near-innumerable combinations of flight. Presented with each tasting are four house-brewed selections on top of a book tasting tray. The Novel’s literary mission continues with cleverly named ales, synonymous with books or their titles— such as the Flying Blind oatmeal stout and the Bookend brown ale.
This come-as-you-are Oakland brewery offers small-batch brews for patrons to sample and taste. While lagers are the specialty, Independent Brewing Company’s Sticky Zipper IPA proves time and again to be a favorite in tastings. The brewery’s prime placing in the heavily-trafficked Jack London Square makes it a hotspot for locals to sip on new additions and for tourists to try Oakland brews.
At Ale Industries, their six-beer tasting flights still aren’t enough to encompass the continually changing flavor profiles of their 14 on-tap brews. The variety of beers up for trying range from local takes on traditional brews like the East Bay IPA to the experimental hop-less Golden State of Mind ale—all crafted with the locals in mind. Ale Industries offer many beers that are available year-round for tasting while the sipping of others is only possible seasonally.
Delightfully reminiscent of a vintage ice cream parlor, Temescal Brewing carries an IPA-forward menu without being overbearing. The brewers at Temescal take the notion of IPAs and expand the flavor profiles to the point of nearly creating an entirely new type of brew. Experiencing a tasting here opens up new layers of beer, as the brewmasters at Temescal expose classic flavors and then build more artistic tastes on top of that. A dozen or so house brews continuously rotate through the taps, ensuring there’s always something new to add to a tasting flight.
Roses’ Taproom is a masterfully curated ale bar, with tastings given in a sleek and modern atmosphere. A feminine charm wafts through the space without being overpowering to the honored ruggedness of beer culture. Tastings are a must at this original brewery. Classics like the sour Saison have their place on the Roses’ menu, as do more experimental brews, like a barrel-aged milk stout topped with a scoop of ice cream and chocolate-sprinkle garnish. The creativity at the taproom flows nearly as much as the locally crafted ale— making for well-balanced tastings that spark surprise in both beer-novices and experts.