Last weekend Bay Area on Tap had the opportunity to attend the annual Holiday beer dinner at Pacific Coast Brewing Company at 906 Washington Street, talk to the proprietors about the event at the long tenured brewpub and hear about some of the new developments in the brew house from the new head brewer.
Held each December, the event is now in its 25th year. It’s interesting how much the city, and this neighborhood specifically, has developed during that time. My first time visiting was a little short of a decade ago and the change is dramatic even in that time. Not only was Pacific Coast the only beer centric location in the neighborhood, it was really one of the only restaurants of any note in what was a nearly dead part of town. Now, not only has the local beer scene blossomed with places like the Belgian beer themed Trappist and the beer-friendly Rosamunde Sausage grill both virtually next door and other standouts just short walk away, the area has also recently become home to several interesting restaurants in recent years. All of which has helped turn PCB into part of a suddenly attractive Old Oakland eating and drinking circuit.
A constant amidst that metamorphosis has been this event at the comfy Old Oakland brew pub. In its current incarnation, the event is an eight course, fourteen-beer dinner. With hearty fare that included broiled salmon, mussels, lamb stew and prime rib matched to a beer list with an average ABV over 10%, it was enough to make certain all parties walked away in a festive mood. The menu included some special beers from Pacific Coast like their 2013 Holiday Double IPA and 25th Anniversary Dirty Scarecrow along with standouts from other brewers like Sante Adairius Anaïs Saison and Drake’s Brewing Jolly Rodgers Imperial Black IPA.
Among the highlights of the afternoon was the opportunity we had to spend some time with Pacific Coast’s new brewmaster Paul Wichelmann. The Minnesota native had been a Pacific Coast employee for a time in the late 90’s and returned to take over the head brewer position in July after stints brewing at both Pyramid and Trumer in Berkeley. One of the first, and probably the most significant, changes Paul made upon taking the reins was to switch the brewery from an extract system to full grain, which was completed back in August . Although the regular offerings in Pacific Coast’s lineup have always had their loyal fans, the use of the extract system hadn’t always gone over so well with some beer geeks, who sometimes would choose to stick with the pub’s always interesting selection of guest taps. We recommend all give a second look at their house beers now as early results from the new system have been very good. With that big change out of the way, Paul got to work injecting some new styles into rotation including a recent collaboration with Line 51 Brewing on a massively hoppy Black IPA dubbed Coast Liner and a new IPA called Red Herring, which plays with the concept of an IPA in both malt and in the choice in hops in a way we believe will go over very well. The brewery is also set to get into barrel aging their beers and currently have some Maker’s Mark barrels on deck for future projects. If this weren’t enough to keep him busy, Paul has also recently started his own beer brand called Lucky Devil Brewing, which will focus on Belgian styles including a Belgian Pale Ale, a Saison, a Dubbel and a Tripel. Watch for it to hit Oakland area beer bars in the very near future. With Oakland’s oldest existing beer institution making big moves and interesting new players constantly joining in, it continues to be an exciting time to be a beer enthusiast in the East Bay.
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.
The city of Oakland gained yet another place to socialize and enjoy great beer with the long awaited opening of a tasting room at Linden Street Brewing Co on December 2nd. When they launched a couple years ago Linden was the first production brewery to open in town since the late 50’s. With an outstanding product buoyed by the near obsessive localism of us East Bayers, the brewery has been hugely successful with area bars and restaurants often selling their old time California lagers faster than head brewer Adam Lamoreaux can brew them. While there have been events at the brewery in the past, a tasting room had to wait while they waded through the requisite red tape involved in any such undertaking. In true Linden Street fashion, they threw a party to celebrate the opening complete with food vendors and live music from Lila Nelson and The Job.
The portside brewery is located at 3rd and Linden in West Oakland in a beautiful brick building that dates back to the 1890’s. Adam and his staff were peddling their two standby beers, Urban People’s Common Lager and Burning Oak Black Lager, along with Dee’s Mild from sister brewery Dying Vines at the wallet friendly price of $4 each. We didn’t notice any growlers being filled at the event but hope they will be available sometime soon.
As with every Linden Street event we’ve attended the turnout and energy were outstanding. While Linden parties have significant overlap with other Oakland beer events and craft beer bars, they also seem to have their own unique group of enthusiasts not found at those other places. The diverse crowd on Friday included several families with young children, some pets, and an unusually high number of unusually good looking people. All in all a great time was had and the tasting room will likely be a regular stop for us at Bay Area on Tap. If events like this one are the norm going forward this will be an extremely welcome addition to the Oakland beer scene. Hope to see you there!
Tasting room hours:
Tuesday – Friday 5-8:30 PM
Saturday 12-8 PM
Best bets to find Linden Street Beer elsewhere in Oakland:
Commonwealth Café and Public House 2882 Telegraph Avenue
The Grand Tavern 3601 Grand Avenue
Beer Revolution 464 3rd Street
The Trappist 460 8th St
More at www.lindenbeer.com