The highly anticipated Berkeley taproom from iconic craft brewer Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, of Chico, CA, has now officially opened to the public. Dubbed the Torpedo Room, the 16 tap glistening steel, glass and wood facility is located at 2031 4th St. Bay Area on Tap had an opportunity to check them out on the first day of their soft opening and we were very impressed with what we found.
The tap list on our visit consisted of several rather obscure, small batch, specialty beers (at least one of which we had never even seen before) and a smattering of familiar favorites. In the interest of encouraging visitors to explore the variety of styles they produce, the Torpedo Room sells their beer in flights of four small samples roughly equal to one pint of beer total. Among the more exciting elements about this new location is that they will offer growler fills, adding another high quality beer-to-go option in an area that hasn’t seemed to have quite enough to cover demand. For me at least, this is one of the foremost reasons this is such a welcome addition to the East Bay beer circuit.
The Torpedo Room will also host beer tasting classes, beer launches and other fun events. The initial hours are listed as 11 am to 7 pm Tuesday through Thursday and 11 am to 8 pm Friday and Saturday. Hours may expand as they move forward so keep an eye on their website for details.
After an extended ‘soft’ opening, Danish gypsy brewer Mikkell Borg Bjergsø’s project with Oakland’s Trappist and Trappist Provisions co-owner Chuck Stilphen Mikkeller Bar San Francisco officially opens today with events continuing throughout the weekend. Mikkell, who’ve we’ve featured previously, is the brewer of the award winning Mikkeller beers and has two bars in Copenhagen. This is the first in the United States.
The bar offers 42 thoughtfully selected taps including not only Mikkeller products but also local favorites and other offerings from around the world. On our visits so far the list has also featured a handful of Mikkeller beers brewed uniquely for the location. Notably, the bar boasts that it is the first in the world to have individually temperature controlled taps so each beer can be served at the ideal temperature for that style. As a nerd who has spent who knows how much time over the years cradling ice cold Belgian Quads in his hands waiting for them to warm, this personally might be the most exciting aspect of the place.
The décor is a mash up as well. The look and feel of the Tenderloin bar calls to mind the Trappist more than the operations in Copenhagen but an abundance of art from Keith Shore, the man responsible for the always enjoyable Mikkeller bottle labels, helps supply a uniquely Mikkeller identity to the place. This along with familiar faces on staff from the Trappist and Chuck’s ØL Beercafe in Walnut Creek made it very easy for to come in and feel at home right away. Not to be overlooked is Mikkeller Bar SF’s convenient location at 34 Mason, literally steps away from the Powell Street BART station. Since Mikkell is known not to be shy about bumping up the ABV on some of his beers, a safe escape route is key. If you feel like braving the likely crowds this weekend you’ll be rewarded with some very special beers they’ve set aside for the occasion. For less of a crowd, it’s also a great late night stop, open until 2 AM Thursday through Saturday and until midnight the rest of the week. The full kitchen is open until 11 PM daily with a limited menu available until midnight.
See their official website for the complete opening weekend schedule and an updated tap list:
We’re double fisting on this edition of Beer of The Week, showcasing two local beers instead of one. Enjoy!
Our first beer of the week is Bright Seas Blonde from Sante Adairius Rustic Ales in Capitola. Not all sources include Capitola within the technical borders of the San Francisco Bay Area but we’ll say it is, because it’s not so far away, because we love the area, and because we want to claim this exciting brewery as one of our own. This Belgian style ale is aged in used Pinot Noir barrels, where it is exposed to wild yeast and bacteria that impart a refreshing citrusy tart acidity and a very dry finish. We highly recommend you try this and any other Sante Adairius offering you happen across, whether down at their brewery or at any of the beer bars in the greater Bay Area lucky enough to get their product.
Style: American Wild Ale
Our second beer is Just Enough Rope from Moonlight Brewing in Fulton. This blonde lager is also a tart one, a characteristic that seems to fit well with the warmer months. Moonlight is always clever with the names of their beers so we’ll assume the title of this beer is a play on the term ‘ropey’ which refers to an infection in a beer (usually an unintentional one). We can guarantee nothing was accidental about the microorganisms that went into making this beer though. Head brewer Brian Hunt is among the most talented and respected in the local beer scene and he put together a very interesting one here. While not quite as bracingly sour as our other beer of the week, the wild bacteria definitely do their thing, supplying a subtle but lingering tartness and a deep earthy quality unlike any lager we’ve tried to date. We recommend this one for the adventurous beer drinkers out there. This beer has limited distribution and the brewery is keg only, so watch out for it at establishments where Moonlight beers are usually sold.
Style: Sour Blonde Lager
Although the Tribune Tavern is not a beer specific place, the Tribune building is such a big part the iconography of the East Bay and of our site we couldn’t let its arrival go by without comment. The restaurant, which opened in the Oakland landmark April 2013, is partnership between Temoor Noor of Grand Lake Tavern in the Grand Lake neighborhood and Chris Pastena of Chop Bar in Jack London Square. Among the first things we noticed on our visit was the reasonable pricing. There was clearly a conscious effort to keep the menu approachable from a cost standpoint. The staff was friendly, enthusiastic, and helpful. Too often when we ask for ordering advice at a restaurant the answer is something to the effect of “everything here is good” but our server actually had an opinion and helped us make our final decisions.
We ultimately decided on two of their smaller plates. We started with a salad of kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, pickled onions, and walnuts with clothbound cheddar. Next was the ox tongue with celery root, tarragon, capers and radish. Both were excellent and we were particularly impressed with the broad and balanced combination of flavors in the salad.
No article on Bay Area on Tap without mentioning the beer list. We’ll remind you this is not a beer-centric location, so tuck your craft beer nerd ire when you see Blue Moon on the list under Blue Moon Brewing Co and not under Miller Coors. It’s not that kind of place. Instead focus on the small but well-chosen list of mostly local beers. On our visit they had such Bay Area standouts as Drake’s 1500, Linden St Burning Oak Black Lager, Dying Vines Old Brick Bitter, Anchor California Lager and several other Northern California craft options. They also feature a solid wine list and a full bar for your non beer drinking friends.
We notice this place shares a lot of DNA with Noor’s Grand Tavern, if you’re a fan that place (which we are) you’ll also enjoy this one. We’re very happy for the addition of a local dining option where we can enjoy reasonably priced, well-crafted dishes, along with some of our favorite beers. We’ll definitely be returning soon. Next time with bigger appetites so we can try some of their entrees.