Several quality Oakland breweries are just a hop, skip, and short walk or bike ride from BART, Amtrak, and the ferry.
The newly formed Jack London Brewing District — recognized by the neighborhood’s business improvement district — highlights the growing number of small craft breweries in the neighborhood. “We just decided it’s time to get [the brewing district] together,” said Aram Cretan, co-founder and head brewer at Federation Brewing. “We spend so much time together hanging out and working together.”
The four founding breweries of the district include Independent Brewing (444 Harrison St.), Original Pattern Brewing (292 4th St.), Oakland United Beerworks (formerly Linden Street Brewery, opening this summer at 262 2nd St.), and Federation Brewing (420 3rd St.). The local beers from these small craft brewers can already be found in many Bay Area restaurants and bars, including ones just footsteps away such as Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, Chop Bar, Beer Revolution, Forge, Plank, and Yoshi’s.
To kick it off, they created a collaborative, limited-edition brew called “Jack London Jam,” a 100 percent spelt beer. The tart summer beer debuted about a week ago at Independent, Original Pattern, and Federation, and is almost sold out.
Before forming the district, they were already working together. For example, the breweries put their spent grain in the yard of Independent Brewing, owned by Steve McDaniel. Once a week, a rancher comes and picks up the grain and feeds it to the cows on the ranch.
There’s another side to sticking together. With the boom of craft breweries across the country, larger companies have bought out smaller ones and packaged them as craft. (Anheuser-Busch InBev’s purchase of Golden Road Brewery is one example.) Sticking together as independent breweries also means sticking it to the big corporations. “We want to show the market that we can work together,” said Matt Hunter, co-founder of Federation Brewing.
The combination of industrial and residential spaces in the neighborhood creates a good location for small-scale food and drink production, with enough people living nearby to walk up and enjoy them. “It gives people an opportunity to try four breweries and take public transit home,” said Shane Aldrich, head brewer at Oakland United Beerworks.
They plan to create more limited-edition beers together and hold quarterly events, including block parties and fundraisers for local organizations.
Original Pattern just opened in April, around the corner from Independent Brewing. “It’s been a great culture,” said co-founder Caitlin O’Connor about the collaboration.
And craft beer’s presence in the Jack London area shows no signs of slowing down. Federation Brewing, which opened its tasting room in March 2017, is expanding next door to give more room for its taproom. Oakland United Beerworks will open a 4,000-square-foot taproom and brewery this summer in the former Public Bikes space on 2nd Street.
At the former World Ground Cafe (308 Jackson St.), a new bar serving local beer called Tiger’s Taproom will be opening — permits pending — likely in early fall. “We’ll definitely promote the Bay Area brewing scene,” co-owner Brian Chan said. “It’s perfect timing for us to go in there.”
If the first collaborative beer is any indication, the new brewing district is onto something good. The limited release “Jack London Jam,” a sour framboise with a hint of raspberries, is all about summer vibes and good feels.