The New Brewery Class of 2015, which included the likes of Fieldwork, Ale Industries, Fort Point, and Headlands, is a tough one to beat. The first 10 months of 2016 have shown some promise though, with new age brewers jumping into the fray. Rather than continue the time-tested, brewery format of tanks in warehouses with wood picnic tables, this list of new breweries has a few good stories and twists.
Barebottle was founded in July 2016 by three serious beer junkies and beer-judges-turned-brewers. The three mixed in a little Ivy League know-how from their Cornell days, then added a beer pro from the legendary Drake's for a seriously successful brew. Honoring their beer judging roots, Barebottle gives their customers a chance to pick the best of the best with pilot brews. That approach is already paying off -- the brewery recently brought home a Bronze Medal from this year’s Great American Beer Festival for their Coastal Red Imperial Amber Ale.
Over $11,000 from a crowdfunding campaign helped get this Oakland project off the ground in June 2016. This neighborhood-bar-meets-brewery sports a simple tasting room, with lots of charm and a warm atmosphere. Novel has a couple of nice American-style IPAs on its beer list of about a dozen brews. You can even sample all the IPAs for less than 10 bucks.
Make room Drake's (Dealership), there’s a new kid in the neighborhood. Wade Ritchey, the former brewer at Cellarmaker, is now brewing at Temescal and is getting attention as a newcomer to the beer community’s list of instant favorites such as the Sandy Pils, a dry-hopped pilsner, and its keg-conditioned saison. With more outdoor than indoor seating, this place is a perfect stop on a sunny day. Temescal also has friendly pours at the counter and food trucks that roll right up to the back gate, including local faves like Vietnamese-Mexican fusion tacos from Powered by Pork.
Seven Stills is not just about the beer; in fact they only had a few beers on tap at time of publish and just opened in July. But getting outside the beer box isn’t a bad thing; the brews are crafted (and aged) in the same barrels used to make their liquor offerings. If you are a student of brewing and distilling, Seven Stills is your type of place, with tours and lectures to feed your brain as well as your buzz.
Founded by brothers who are homebrewers-turned-pros, Laughing Monk features beers with a heavy Belgian influence in a tried and tested brewery format (industrial space with barrels, lots of concrete and wood), and any new brewery that jumps right into the sour beer realm has balls. Their crisp and refreshing Mango Gose is a winner, too. Laughing Monk is steps away from the aforementioned Seven Stills in Bayview, which should help the brewery succeed in its off-the-beaten-path location.
From the Youkilis brothers (that’s right, baseball great Kevin Youkilis) comes Los Gatos’ newest brewpub. In the New Brewery Class of 2016, this is the food stop, with a solid menu that runs the gamut from ceviche to pork belly. Loma has three traditional German style beers on tap, as well as a nice assortment of American beers that don’t have fancy, cheeky, or funny beer names. Anchored by head brewer Warren Billups of Heretic Brewing Company fame, Loma Brewing will be a powerhouse in the South Bay, and they will be on everyone’s brewery tour map before long.
No brick & mortar
Like Holycraft, there’s no taproom or brewery to visit just yet, but it’s likely just a matter of time before this upstart, women-owned, gluten “removed” beer company jumps into that scene. Sufferfest’s beer hit the shelves in 2016, and already you can find the Pilsner and Taper (IPA) in more than 175 locations across NorCal, which is pretty incredible if you think about it.
Army vets and a husband/wife team run this shop, which is not unlike other places that you might pop into for a trivia night and other fun. But unlike many of those other (and bigger) breweries, you can chat directly with the owners. Beer-wise, FDR’s brew line-up isn’t chock full of big beers like many others. So, if lower ABV beers are your thing, you’ll really like the big hoppy taste and nose on the Second Term Session IPA.
There are a couple of new taprooms that should get a quick mention in any story about new breweries. The Brewsters Beer Garden in Petaluma will open in November, and Fieldwork Napa just opened in the incredible Oxbow Public Market in mid-October. If you’re shooting out to the North Bay, these will be two great spots to drink local beer.
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1. Barebottle Brew Co.1525 Cortland Ave, San Francisco
2. Novel Brewing Company6510 San Pablo Ave, Oakland
3. Temescal Brewing4115 Telegraph Ave, Oakland
4. Seven Stills1439 Egbert Ave, San Francisco
5. Laughing Monk Brewing1439 Egbert Ave Unit A, San Francisco
6. Loma Brewing Company130 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
7. Ferment Drink Repeat - FDR Brewery2636 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco
This Bernal Heights brewery puts the spotlight on homebrewers. Every month, Barebottle hosts amateur brewing competitions, and the finalists (as chosen by visitors like you) get added to the tap room's rotating menu. The emphasis is on discovery and experimentation, so come with an open mind and be ready to taste an inventive roster of beer.
Novel is where book lovers and beer enthusiasts meet on common ground, of course you don’t have to be either to enjoy the variety of IPAs and other writing-themed brews, but you will find lots of beer and lots of books at this colorful, cozy neighborhood nook. Community has been important to Novel from its conception and onwards, they started using crowd-funding and still source for ideas (namely for beer poster designs). Come play a board game, hunker down for their monthly trivia night, or simply just enjoy the friendly and very plentiful banter while you try some new brews. We love the Creative Juices New England-style IPA and Unscripted German-style Gose.
Stylish subway tiles, wood accents, and subtly bright colors make this minimalist Oakland brewery a hip little gem in the Bay Area craft brewing world. Look for the pink side door, but we have a feeling you wont be able to miss it especially with a huge, wildly colorful beer garden (draped with cafe lights, we might add) where you, your pooch, and your kids are welcome to enjoy sunshine, great beer, and free popcorn by the fistful. Try Sandy Pils (a light weight, dry-hopped pilsner), Day Trip blonde ale (refreshing and simple), or Pen Pal pale ale (mildly hoppy and dangerously drinkable) to keep summer going just a little bit longer. Don’t miss their rotating local food vendors!
Whiskey distilled from craft beer is the name of the game at Seven Stills Brewery. The process begins with house-made beer, whose varieties include "beerceptions" (beer that's been aged in a whiskey barrel made from the same beer...meta, we know), and collaborations with other breweries, like a recent peanut butter milk stout brewed with Belching Beaver. Said beers are then distilled into whiskey, proving that the brown stuff is only as good as the beer from which it's derived. Seven Stills' bright and industrial tasting room is a great place for small groups thanks to tables, counters, and stools made out of barrels.
This small batch craft brewery has a tasting room in Bayview where you can get growlers of the beer that blends traditions from California and Belgium, and utilizes a mixture of local and seasonal ingredients. Plus, it’s affordable! They’ll fill a 32oz growler for $10-$15 and a 64oz growler for $18-$24. More into crowlers? Good news: those are on the way.
Loma isn’t simply a tap room, it’s a brewpub with menu options that rival even the best gourmet restaurants in and around Los Gatos. Whether or not you are looking for a comfy place to have a great meal or a friendly place to mingle and chat, Loma’s bright atmosphere is just as pleasant as its stylish, high-ceilinged warehouse appeal. Compliment one of many American dishes like the favorite Smorgasbord charcuterie board, smoked trout flatbread, pork belly, seared scallops, or a big ‘ol burger with one of their house made brews. We favor the light, peppy Berliner Weiss and the traditional, mega-hopped American IPA.
While FDR is both a brewery and a taproom, it’s not just meant for the thirsty patrons … FDR is also a homebrew supply shop for those curious beer lovers who are just as passionate about the process as owners, Kevin and Shae Inglin. FDR offers affordable homebrew classes so that you too can subscribe to their philosophy: “Make. Great. Beer.” In their quest to find, and make accessible, some of the greatest brews in the world, their taproom features diverse beer styles and flavors. We love Absobloodylutely! English IPA (it has floral and citrus notes with less hop than American IPAs) and I Got Your Bock (their take on a traditional German lager that is lightly hopped and distinctly “bread-y”).