Line 51 Rolls Into Oakland

 

Bay Area on Tap had a chance to sit down with the man behind Line 51 Brewing, PT Lovern, at his Oakland home last week to chat about the upcoming launch, responsible drinking, and to geek out about all things East Bay.


PT with his homebrew conical. Welded locally using kegs purchased from his favorite brewery.

As East Bay natives and AC Transit veterans, the “Line 51” bus route (which runs from Rockridge BART, through downtown and uptown, and on to Fruitvale BART) is a familiar one to us at Bay Area on Tap. We had to be curious though, why Lovern chose it to represent his beers. He explained that not only is it the line he and his drinking/brewing buddies (known as the Booze Brothers) often used to get to and from the better beer bars here in Oakland safely, he also chose this name because he felt it was important to advocate using public transit when imbibing, especially since some of his beers are on the stronger side. In addition, the name helps add some specificity to the place where he lives, crafts his recipes, and where his beer will be available at launch. PT plans to start by distributing his beers at establishments on and around the 51 bus line and grow his business from there. In the course of this strategy, he’s chosen not to limit himself to bars already established as beer geek destinations. After all, adding a few good craft beers on tap is all it takes to turn a decent local bar into something truly awesome. Line 51 seems primed to do just that.

The first beer to launch will be a hoppy red ale dubbed Red Death IPA, it’s name a subtle reference to a work by Oakland’s most well known novelist. Lovern related that he had been experimenting with red malts for years and found that an assertive hop profile could really help anchor the malt character for a bold, yet pleasantly balanced, ale. At 7 percent ABV and a healthy 70 IBU’s this one moves firmly into the IPA category, a style PT says he found to be in high demand when he started asking bar goers in the area what types of beer they’d like to see more of. Early in 2013, Line 51 plans to release a second offering called One Inch Punch. Most will recognize this as a shout out to the technique made famous by Bruce Lee, who opened one of his first martial arts studios a stones throw from PT’s home. We had a chance to try this one as well, and were impressed with how well the hop complexity shined through on a 6 percent 51 IBU beer. We were also lucky enough to sample some of the exciting offerings Line 51 has slated for release slightly further down the line. We’ve been asked not to leak any spoilers quite yet, but expect some highly enjoyable beers built on adventurous recipes with a lot more clever Oakland cultural references.

Watch out for the Line 51 tap handle at Oakland area bars, hand molded by brewer PT Lovern himself.

PT’s local pride is evident not only in the names of his beers but is obvious after only speaking with him a few minutes about the city where he lives. Although for now his beers will be released through a partnership with San Jose’s Hermitage, long term he’d love to open up a production brewery of his own right here in Oakland if his beers are as well received as he hopes they are. The thirsty people of Oakland won’t have to wait long to get their first look at Red Death IPA. There are two release parties this week, Tuesday the 13th at Cato’s Ale House 3891 Piedmont Ave at 5pm, Wednesday the 14th at Ben & Nicks Bar and Grill 5612 College Ave at 7pm, and a third at Kerry House 4086 Piedmont Avenue on the 24th. Get on a bus, get on BART, and get in line. We’ll see you there.

 

8 Replies to “Line 51 Rolls Into Oakland”

  1. I wish all of these “proud locals” would actually pony up and have the cajones to go through the real effort of starting a brewery. Not just a marketing company. This isn’t Oakland beer. This is beer from San Jose that some guy pays to have his label on. Who cares? If you want to support Oakland Brewers buy brews from Linden Street. Buy brews from the brewers who threw their ass on the line to make it happen WITHIN Oakland with their own sweat equity and pride. This is now the third half assed excuse for a new Bay Area brewery. Yeah we get it, Hermitage can brew your beers, can you? No love.

    1. Allow me to retort…..

      If the $100,000+ in savings and loans I’ve invested in this business that operates out of a warehouse in West Oakland and pays all business taxes to Oakland isn’t evidence of enough “local pride” for someone, I can’t help them out on that one. If I was to leave my fulltime teaching position of 15 years to start out at a brewery as a cellar guy, move up the ladder from there, then come back to ask the bank in three or more years to “pony up” the $1.5 million to open a full-scale brewery in order to be a “hardcore dude”, I wouldn’t be able to pay the mortgage on our Oakland home where I create and perfect all the recipes in my basement. Instead I kept my day job, after I “ponied up” all of my family’s savings from the past 15 years just to get the opportunity to put MY beers, which are MY recipes up in Bay Area bars. If and only if my produced beer makes it in this market, I can then decide what my next step will be.

      Please don’t judge me or my brand. If you don’t like it, drink something else. It’s what’s in the glass is what matters most and I created that – with great pride. Nobody in San Jose created any of my beers. They mass produce them for the time being (and we’re happy with the results), but contributed nothing to their creation.

      As for the future of my company, only the consumers will decide. Consumers like you, so do me a favor (because I don’t believe I have met anyone named Wishful Drinker nor do you have all the facts which means this post could be interpreted as slander) and consider keeping these type of remarks to yourself.

      If need more information about my company, or my beers, or even the size of my cajones, you can email me at pt@line51beer.com. You can also look for me at Beer Revolution on Wednesday nights. I am the guy wearing the shirt with the bus on it. Enjoy.

      1. I dig it man. I’ll definitely be trying out some line 51.

        I love the Oakland love. Ignore the haters. Somebody like Wishful just doesn’t know the risk that goes into starting a brewery. Much respect to you man. I can feel the vision and I like it.

    2. That was quite the disappointing diatribe. Sounds like Mr. Wishful is one of these ‘hardcore dudes’ referred to above. If that be the case…you’d think Mr. Hardcore would be a bit less pretentious and support local brews over corporate powerhouses….or maybe he is just a bitter queen.

      Cheers bud.

      J

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