Like most cosmopolitan cities, Oakland is a place where local, small-batch craft beer thrives. The city’s temperate weather means that you can find numerous open-air brewhouses year-round, which also tend to be pet- and kid-friendly. Almost all the breweries mentioned here are tapped into local foodie culture, whether serving artisan pizza like at Drake’s Dealership, or by hosting food popups and/or food trucks—like Original Pattern or Temescal Brewing. And, because community-building and diversity are such important values in Oakland, you can find breweries like Ale Industries, which is explicitly committed to diversifying its staff. Still, this industry has a ways to go, as the only Black-owned brewery in Oakland, Hella Coastal, hasn’t yet been able to establish a brick and mortar location. Luckily, they’ve sometimes been able to collaborate with established breweries like Drake’s to get the word out about their beer.
Right in the heart of Oakland on Broadway Auto Row in a building that used to be a Dodge dealership, Drake’s Dealership is an open-air beer garden that also sells wood-fired pizza. It has 32 types of beer on tap, some of which are switched out seasonally. Thanks to its ample outdoor space, Drake’s is a meet-up spot for all kinds of folks, including parents with kids in tow. This location is an extension of the original Drake’s Barrel House in nearby San Leandro, one of the Bay Area’s oldest craft breweries that’s known for its hoppy beers.
Located in the trendy Temescal neighborhood, Temescal Brewing is a local brewery with a lovely outdoor patio and a wide range of craft beers. There are two year-round brews, a “hazy, juicy” IPA and a Pilsner, as well as many other rotating beers, like a Pale Ale called “Millennial Burnout.” The brewery doesn’t serve food but it offers free popcorn, and allows you to bring in outside food from the rotating food trucks stationed nearby.
Beer Aficionado Vibes
Located in Oakland’s warehouse district near Jack London Square, this award-winning brewery focuses on Belgian and German styles—lagers, sours, kolsch. Original Pattern Brewing Company also features several IPAs that use New Zealand hops, which are hard to come by in the Bay Area. Original Pattern’s beers have some amazingly creative names, like Stranger Than Fiction (a Pilsner), an IPA called The Idaho Situation, and another IPA called Patience Grasshopper. As an added plus, the brewery has teamed up with Good to Eat Dumplings — a perfect food accompaniment for craft beer—and often offers music and other entertainment.
The Town Vibes
Located in the heavily Latino Fruitvale neighborhood, Ale Industries is one of the few breweries to declare its commitment to diversity, which is lagging in the beer industry. It has a partnership with Oakland’s soccer team, the Roots, and in a particularly innovative move, recently teamed up with the East Bay SPCA to feature homeless pets on its cans in the hopes of getting them adopted. Ale Industries’ beer cans also have a local flavor - Town Beer features a map of Oakland, and East Bay IPA mimics the colors and graphics of BART, the Bay Area’s metro system.
While the craft beer industry is heavily dominated by white men, Novel Brewing is one of very few co-owned by a woman. Located near the Oakland-Berkeley border, it offers 12 different beers on tap at any given time—particularly intriguing is the Milk With Knives, Imperial Coconut Moloko Stout w/ Coconut, which tastes of nutty chocolate and coconut. The unique element of this brewery is that the tasting room is filled with books and games. Dogs and kids are also welcome, and customers can bring in their own food or enjoy one of the food popups hosted by the brewery.