Food & Drink

The 11 Best Beer Bars in Oakland

Published On 05/07/2015 Published On 05/07/2015
Courtesy of The Trappist

In the Gold Rush era, Oakland supported more than FORTY breweries. In the post-Prohibition era, Oakland supported... definitely-not-FORTY breweries. And while it took some time (92 years!), Oakland is finally returning to its sudsier glory days, with brew pubs and beer bars sprouting up faster than you can say "fixie-mustache-fanny-pack-jorts."

Bored with Toronado and Monk’s Kettle? Then BART, Uber, or sober-friend yourself over the bridge to throw back a pint on the sunny side of the bay at one of these.

The Trappist

The Trappist

Old Oakland
Housed inside a Victorian building from the 1870s, The Trappist models itself after an old Belgian pub and has the lengthy list of hard-to-find frites-country ales on tap to prove it -- plus plenty of US (especially California) microbrews and more than 100 bottles. Also cool: the roomier back bar has a different selection than the dark, cozy front bar -- whichever you choose, the bartender will properly pour your beer into the proper glass. Properly. And in case you get only medium hungry: the minimalist menu offers cheeses, charcuterie, and other bites meant to go well with beer.

David Weisman

Lost & Found

Uptown
If you’re starving for sunshine and a raging game of ping-pong/corn hole, you're gonna want to find your way to Lost & Found. The beer garden has 24 brews on tap -- mostly local Belgian-style, stouts, and IPAs -- which you can sip outdoors in a large communal space decorated with greenery, bean bag chairs, and a killer mural. The inside bar is modern and spacious, but outside is where it’s at. Oh, and try the fried ramen noodles because, fried ramen noodles.

Portal Oakland

Portal

East Oakland
On the East side of Lake Merritt, between Merritt Bakery and a tattoo parlor, Portal is a slender bar that opens up to a roomier outdoor patio with picnic tables (sit out there), sunbrellas, and a view of the lake. Drinks-wise, there're 15 tap beers, mostly but not entirely Californian, and at least one cider (Crispin), while eats-wise small plates include pickled things, salads, and frites, as well as mini-burgers and something called “garbage bread,” which could be/definitely 1,000,000% will be just the ticket after a few rounds.
 

Pacific Coast Brewing

Old Oakland
A Downtown standby that's been around since 1988 (when it was one of the only games in town), Pacific Coast Brewing is the kind of place you could bring your dad to watch a football game without it being weird. The brewpub has 24 selections on tap, up to 10 of which are done in house -- try the uber-dark Leviathan or the BBA Sour Cherry Mermaid’s Revenge, which the brewmaster wants "served at his funeral." The menu offers a standard mix of fried things, sandwiches, and beer-battered fish tacos.

Flickr/Steve Kocino

Beer Revolution

Jack London Square
Affectionately called Beer Rev, what this beer bar/bottle shop lacks in frills it makes up for in selection. The smallish, narrow bar offers 50 rotating taps, which could include anything from a Hoparillo Triple IPA, to a Dust Bowl pilsener, to Caldera Mogli barrel-aged porter from Ashland, Oregon. The coolers are stocked with 100+ bottles to drink at home or in either of two seating areas: 1) inside, where you'll get punk rock vibes and limited seating (it’s less crowded in the afternoon), and 2) outside, where you'll find picnic tables and people-watching. Pro tip: pick up a burger from Annex Burger next door.

David Cheung

Grand Tavern

Upper Grand/Grand Lake
A neighborhood spot that calls itself a gastro-pub (but doesn’t have the pretentiousness that the term implies), Grand Tavern is located on the bottom floor of a renovated house where it slings a handful of draft beers -- including local favorite Linden Street -- and bottles. The menu features burgers, lamb shepherd’s pie, and vegetarian-friendly small plates, most including seasonal, local ingredients. For the non-beer drinkers, GT has a killer cocktail and wine list. Oh, and addictive hand-made potato chips. If you can, snag a seat by the fireplace.
 

Diving Dog Brewhouse

Uptown
Not only can you drink beer from one of Diving Dog’s 30 taps, you can also make your own. The beer bar, brewery, and brew-on-premises spot in Uptown Oakland provides DIY options for those that want to have their way with hops. The menu includes craft beers from California, Oregon, the East Coast (Pretty Things, Dogfish Head), and Louisiana (Abita). No food here, but the small spot will let you bring in food from nearby establishments. Watch for occasional pop-up kitchens, too.

Brotzeit Lokal

Brotzeit Lokal

East Oakland
Situated on the Oakland waterfront in the no-man’s land beyond Jack London Square and behind a Homewood Suites motel, Brotzeit is what would happen if a German biergarten had a baby with a waterfront bar. You'll get waterfront views whether you're in the beer hall inside or the beer garden out, plus 30 or so beers that lean toward hard-to-find German varieties, with a few Belgian and local ales mixed in. Pair that Dunkel with sausage, a burger, and/or/but-probably-not-or fish & chips.

Courtesy of The Good Hop

The Good Hop Bottle Shop

Koreatown-Northgate
The Good Hop's beautiful row of coolers houses about 350 bottles and cans from around the globe. Take your good fortune home or sip it in this new, Indiegogo-funded spot. In addition to the fridge-stuffs, TGH offers 16 mostly California beers on tap. It’s located at Telegraph and 24th St, not far from the Fox Theatre and all of this.
 

Analog Oakland Suds & Grub

Downtown/City Center
Analog keeps things simple and old school. Like, really old school: a jukebox, tube TV with ‘80s Nintendo, and vinyl. The beer list is small but well chosen: Ommegang Hennepin, Sculpin IPA, Old Rasputin. Choose from sandwiches called the Miss Piggy (BBQ), the Ham On!!, and the Hail Seitan, plus look for visits from pop-up kitchen Hella Vegan Eats, a Sunday vegan brunch, and record swaps, which are apparently a thing now.

David Weisman

CommonWealth Café and Public House

Pill Hill
If you’re tired of craft beer and just want a Guinness, and maybe a soccer game, and maybe something warm to eat, you will find that here. The homey neighborhood pub has a dozen or so beers on tap --Fullers, Drake’s, Linden Street -- and a British-heavy bottle selection. Pair that pint with English pub fare any time of day, except late at night: they will kick you out at 11pm. Note: ample bike racks are just around the corner on 29th St. Also -- CommonWealth recently opened a second location in Emeryville, FYI.

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Heather Johnson is an Oakland-based writer that has gotten sunburned at Beer Rev, and Brotzeit, and celebrated a birthday at Trappist. She has a low tolerance, aka is cheap date.

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1. Beer Revolution 464 3rd St, Oakland, CA 94607 (Oakland)

Affectionately called Beer Rev, what this beer bar/bottle shop lacks in frills it makes up for in selection. The smallish, narrow bar offers 50 rotating taps, which could include anything from a Hoparillo Triple IPA, to a Dust Bowl pilsener, to Caldera Mogli barrel-aged porter from Ashland, Oregon. The coolers are stocked with 100+ bottles to drink at home or in either of two seating areas: 1) inside, where you'll get punk rock vibes and limited seating (it’s less crowded in the afternoon), and 2) outside, where you'll find picnic tables and people-watching. Pro tip: pick up a burger from Annex Burger next door.

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2. The Trappist 460 8th St, Oakland, 94607 (Oakland)

Housed in an 1870s Oakland Victorian, TT's a cozy shrine to the Belgian pub, with tin ceilings, barrel tables, and innumerable European beer signs, none of which exhort you to "Go for the gusto."

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3. Portal 1611 2nd Ave, Oakland, CA 94606 (Oakland)

From a former construction manager who got some chef training on the side comes Portal, an American pub/beer garden out in Oakland. The menu is no-frills, offering up a variety of comfort food-esque dishes, like homemade pasta, pan seared salmon, beer-marinated chicken, and burger sliders. On top of that, Portal has an impressive beer menu (25 options!) and even does brunch.

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4. Brotzeit Lokal 1000 Embarcadero, Oakland, CA 94606 (Oakland)

Sausage and seaside views -- need we say more? Owned and operated by an Oakland-born husband and wife duo, Brotzeit Lokal is an authentic German biergarten that marries dockside dining with house-made, Bavarian-inspired fare. The eponymous sausage platter -- featuring two links, crunchy sauerkraut, spätzle, and a warm, buttery bretzel -- is the heavy-hitting favorite of both brunch and dinner services, but an extensive list of light bites makes the rest of the menu just as solid. The outdoor patio, sporting bright picnic tables and warm Christmas lights, makes for a convivial ambience (especially if you happen to have a dog; the spot is totally puppy-friendly).

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5. Grand Tavern 3601 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610 (Oakland)

A neighborhood spot that calls itself a gastro-pub (but doesn’t have the pretentiousness that the term implies), Grand Tavern is located on the bottom floor of a renovated house where it slings a handful of draft beers -- including local favorite Linden Street -- and bottles. The menu features burgers, lamb shepherd’s pie, and vegetarian-friendly small plates, most including seasonal, local ingredients. For the non-beer drinkers, GT has a killer cocktail and wine list. Oh, and addictive hand-made potato chips. If you can, snag a seat by the fireplace.

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6. Diving Dog Brewhouse 1802 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612 (Oakland)

It's BYOF(ood) at the Diving Dog Brewhouse, where all the focus is on that nectar of the gods we call beer. With 32 beers on tap and much more in bottles, you never have to try the same brew twice. But if you're feeling more adventurous, the bad boys at Diving Dog will provide the equipment, ingredients, and recipes for you to brew your own beer on site.

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7. Pacific Coast Brewing 906 Washington St, Oakland, CA 94607 (Oakland)

Though Pacific Coast Brewing Co. serves pub fare food, the TLC goes into the beer selection. With 24 taps, eight of which devoted to its own beer, Pacific Coast Brewing is constantly trying to introduce its patrons to the best the beer world has to offer. And it's also the only brewery we know with stained glass AND a juke box.

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8. Good Hop Bottle Shop 2421 Telegraph Ave #102, Oakland, CA 94612 (Oakland)

The Good Hop has 600 bottled and canned beers. We really don't know what we can add which would incentivize you more. Oh. Well there's the 16 seasonal beers on tap. And there are the monthly beer and cheese pairings. And there's the "Meet the brewer" nights. The Good Hop is really one-upping itself.

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9. Analog Oakland 414 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612 (Oakland)

Beer and sandwiches are what's on offer at this simple downtown Oakland spot. A small, but well-curated beer list features the likes of craft brewing all-stars Ommegang, Ballast Point and Old Rasputin. Meanwhile, the sandwich menu is split into carnivorous paninis and quirky vegan twists. On the decor front, Analog keeps things old school...like really old school: the dining room's outfitted with a jukebox, VHS tapes, and 1980 Nintendo.

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10. CommonWealth Cafe and Pub 2882 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609 (Oakland)

If you’re tired of craft beer and just want a Guinness, and maybe check out a soccer game, and perhaps something warm to eat, you will find that at the CommonWealth. The homey neighborhood pub has a dozen or so beers on tap --Fullers, Drake’s, Linden Street -- and a British-heavy bottle selection. Pair that pint with English pub fare any time of day, except late at night: they will kick you out at 11pm.

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11. Lost & Found 2040 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612 (Oakland)

L&F's a beer garden from the people behind The Layover Music Bar and Lounge that has a huge selection of local and European craft beers and comfort food like instant ramen "Cheetos" or spicy Korean wings, all of which can be enjoyed on their 7,000sqft outdoor patio.

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