Brews With Benefits: Tannery Bend Beerworks provides hops with hope by investing in their community

Earlier this summer, the team at Tannery Bend Beerworks opened a location in Oakland’s Upper Telegraph neighborhood, called Tannery on Telegraph. Its orange and bright blue storefront at the intersection of Alcatraz and Telegraph is highly visible to anyone passing by while running errands or during their daily commute.

Opened by partners Matt Cromwell, Lauren Cromwell and Tyler Rodde, friends since they met in high school in Napa—Matt and Lauren have since married—Tannery on Telegraph is meant to represent the gathering of friends and family to celebrate a pairing that appeals to most: quality beer and food.

Additionally, the team at Tannery Bend is a strong believer in community, and chose to open the Tannery on Telegraph in part because of the community that the neighborhood brings to the table. “It’s reciprocal,” Matt Cromwell said. “The more that we support our community, the more it supports us.” 

Cromwell, an aspiring law student-turned-Siebel Institute graduate—a school in Chicago dedicated specifically to the art of brewing and tasting beer—serves as Tannery Bend Beerworks’ brewer. His wife, Lauren, is in charge of events, while Rodde, a known chef, runs the business end of the operation. 

The three have been business partners at Tannery Bend Beerworks since 2014. In 2017, they opened their first location, a small taproom in Downtown Napa. Unfortunately, the taproom was closed at the beginning of the pandemic, as it was too small to guarantee safety while maintaining six feet of distance between customers.

This fall, the team will reopen the Tannery at Action, a taproom located at the brewery’s headquarters and brewing site in Napa, while next summer, a 5,000-square-foot taproom with both indoor and outdoor space will open in Downtown Napa.

For those who haven’t stopped by yet, Tannery on Telegraph features an indoor dining area, an outdoor beer garden and a “grab-and-go” pantry near the front, which includes beers and fresh pasta from Rodde’s Napa-based Italian restaurant “Oenotri.”

According to Matt Cromwell, the grab-and-go pantry has been “pretty successful thus far, because after a couple of beers you don’t want to cook for yourself anymore! And we’re also firm believers that good beers should be complemented by good food.”

When asked what the team at Tannery Bend hopes for in opening its second location, Cromwell said that they “wanted to open a place where locals feel totally comfortable, and know that their friends will be there even if they didn’t talk to them that day. And, a space where you can catch up on all the neighborhood gossip and whatnot.”

In addition to educating the community on beer and food pairings, Tannery on Telegraph plans to start up its “Dine and Donate” event every Thursday evening, something the team previously enacted in its Napa location. “Dine and Donate” picks a nonprofit or school, and allows anyone who stops in to both learn about the cause and donate to it if they choose.

On the success of his team’s new location, Cromwell said, “due to the pandemic, we weren’t really sure what we’d see when we opened the doors. But the neighborhood has been super welcoming. One of our neighbors brought us a couple of plants as a welcoming gift, and I might have cried.”

Tannery Bend Beerworks’ brews “tend to be fairly balanced, since we put an emphasis on pairing beer with food,” Cromwell said. The team is most interested in Belgian-style beers, including saisons and ales, because “they get more character as they age.” Cromwell is also always sure to have West Coast IPAs and “more fruity IPAs” on the shop’s menu.

To switch things up every once in a while, Rodde challenges Cromwell by asking him to brew a beer that includes a specific ingredient. An example of this is the “Capps Belgian Double with Candy Capp Mushrooms,” a beer currently on the menu. The resulting flavor of the beer is similar to that of maple bars, which Cromwell says “pairs well with plain vanilla ice cream.”

Besides beer, Tannery on Telegraph has a full repertoire of appetizers, sandwiches, salads and much more that can be eaten in the space itself, be picked up or be delivered. A few local favorites on the menu thus far include “The Alcatraz,” a blend of smoked turkey, avocado and alfalfa sprouts, and a variety of to-go pasta available from Oenotri.

Tannery on Telegraph is located at 6369 Telegraph Ave. and is open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 8pm. Families with children of all ages are more than welcome.
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