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Craft beers thrive in Oakland once again

Craft beers thrive in Oakland once again

I have wanted to start a beer blog for a while now and since I love the beer community and I love Oakland, Oakland Local seemed like the perfect platform for it!

Why is the craft beer industry so important? For me, the most important thing is the people and how much craft breweries give back to their local communities through donations (monetary and liquid), hosting fundraisers and supporting local clubs and sports teams. That makes it a loving community of people and small businesses, more than just an industry.

There also are other important economical impacts, like the fact that the craft beer industry provides over 108,000 jobs nationally and beer festivals bring in tourists and revenue for cities, not to mention local taxes paid by breweries, distributors, retailers and consumers.

Back in the days of Oakland’s famous scribe Jack London, Steam Beer was the common libation in the Bay Area. Steam Beer - now called California Common after Anchor patented the term - has unique origins in the Bay Area similar to sourdough bread.

In "John Barleycorn," Jack London describes the pre-prohibition shift drink etiquette: “A bottle of ginger ale cost the saloon ever so much more than a glass of steam beer; and it was up to me, if I wanted to hold my job, to drink beer.”(sic)

Back then, before Prohibition and the mass homogenization of beer that followed its repeal, the beer scene in Oakland was a thriving culture. Some notable breweries were:

Oakland Brewery (1853-1903) - of which the East Oakland Brewery and Saloon branched out of in 1880.

Washington Brewery (1856-1910)

Brooklyn Brewery (1870-1919) - The area east of Lake Merritt used to be a township called Brooklyn. When Brooklyn’s Courthouse was destroyed in an earthquake, the area was slowly incorporated into Oakland.

Golden West Brewery (1856-1959) - Now the parking lot next to West Oakland Bart, this brewery slowly merged Oakland Brewery, Washington Brewery and several other small short-lived East Bay breweries into one.

After 1959, the Oakland beer scene was pretty dry until Pacific Coast opened in 1986. Unfortunately, when people talk West Coast beer cities they talk about Portland, San Diego and Seattle. While all those cities have great beer, we in the Bay Area have a thriving craft beer community that is growing rapidly.

Breweries to look for in Oakland

Linden Street - Oakland’s first production brewery since 1959. Go visit the taproom! Linden Street Brewing also is the brewing home for Dying Vines, which brews tasty English-style beers.

Line 51 - Boasts handles at pubs and restaurants along the 51 bus line, which runs down Broadway. They are big advocates of using public transportation while enjoying local beer.

Oakland Brewing Company - They don’t have a taproom quite yet, but there are bottles available at local stores that are definitely worth seeking out.

MacArthur Garage - Oakland’s first Nanobrewery. “... steeped in local culture, history and the fight for social justice. Our aim is provide the social lubricant to agitate the activist in all of us.”

Pacific Coast - Oakland’s famous Brewpub. You can enjoy their house beers or a number of guest beers.

So be sure to drink and support local, because chances are your local brewery is supporting someone or something you love.

If you have questions, ideas for craft beer news to cover and/or want to hear about a specific beer topic, please let me know below at, or leave a not in the comments.


Kirby Bennett is a craft beer enthusiast with a writing habit. She loves to tell the stories of the people behind the beer and geek out on local beer culture. She recently completed an internship at the Brewers Association, in the Craft Beer Program, and now works as an Event Representative in the Bay Area for Ninkasi Brewing Company. She also loves cooking, gardening, and riding her bike around Oakland.