Berkeley Jumps on the Beer Bandwagon with New Breweries, Bars
By Doug Oakley Staff Writer Bay Area News Group firstname.lastname@example.org
BERKELEY -- Berkeley is going bonkers for beer.
Craft beer fans will have four new establishments, two micro breweries and two beer bars, to visit by the end of the year, including a Sierra Nevada Brewing tasting room planned for Fourth Street near University Avenue.
The Sierra Nevada bar is the first outside its Chico production facility. Three others will join it: a "sour beer" brewery called the Rare Barrel is set to open on Carleton Street by the end of the year; a craft beer bar called Moxy opened in April on Sacramento Street; and a brewery and beer bar called Hoi Polloi Brew Pub is aiming to open in the fall on Alcatraz Avenue.
The four new venues are a big increase to a relatively small beer market compared to Oakland and San Francisco. Berkeley already has Berkeley Pyramid Alehouse on Gilman Street, Trumer Pils on Fourth Street, and Triple Rock and Jupiter on Shattuck Avenue.
"In my eyes Berkeley should be on the same level as Portland, Seattle and Denver where people unconditionally embrace craft, whatever kind," said 27-year-old Jay Goodwin, of San Mateo, who is the co-owner of The Rare Barrel along with his college roommate Alex Wallash and Goodwin's father. The brewery is making its first batch of sour beer, an obscure flavor similar to a Belgian beer but with lower alcohol.
Their venture is the largest of the four set to open with a 14,000-square-foot space housed in a former furniture warehouse between Carleton and Parker streets. It will also have a "quick-serve" restaurant.
Goodwin said with all the breweries opening up in the city, an enthusiastic beer swiller can "plan a day around it."
Goodwin called Sierra Nevada's announcement that it will open a tasting room, which will serve its signature pale ale and specialty beers not available for sale in bars or stores, "a really, really big deal."
"I feel really lucky they are doing that," Goodwin said. "We'll both be in West Berkeley which could become a beer destination."
On Sacramento Street, a husband and wife team from Berkeley who own The Hobnob restaurant in Alameda, Mike and Amy Voisenat, opened Moxy in April. Mike Voisenat said the couple lives just down the street from their new beer garden.
They have 14 beers on tap in addition to bottles. They'll also have burgers, fries, salads and vegetarian fare.
"We wanted to do something new, more like a bar than a restaurant, and we want all craft beers," Voisenat said. "In Berkeley, I think people know their beer a lot better than people in other places. I want room to experiment and have a rotating tap section."
Yet another micro-micro brewery called Hoi Polloi Brew Pub is scheduled to open by the end of the year in a shoe-box size space on Alcatraz Avenue near Adeline Street.
"It's a really nice place, about 620 square feet is all," said owner Viet Vu of San Francisco, who has worked at breweries around the Bay Area.
"The idea is it's an intimate space that fits into the dense urban environment," Vu said. "We like the small neighborhood bars in the Bay Area and wanted to re-create that."
Vu said he will brew his own beer on site and have 12 to 14 other, mostly local beers for sale as well.
Why are so many breweries and beer bars opening up in Berkeley? Room to grow.
"I think one of the reasons is that Berkeley doesn't have the concentration other cities have," Vu said. "San Francisco and Oakland have several."
He said Alcatraz Avenue near Adeline Avenue, also called the Lorin District, has a lot of potential "and we could go along with that."