It’s around 9 p.m. on a Monday and Rockridge has officially GONE WILD. Well, specifically, it is the Trappist Provisions — the newish offshoot of the Old Oakland beer palace — that has gone wild, and it’s really just two people: a man and a woman, both dressed in that distinctively genteel palate of earth tones and sensible silhouettes, both acting wildly un-genteel but very, ah, distinctive, making out with a vigor and a stamina I seriously haven’t seen since freshman year of college. Seriously, I was there for over an hour and they did not stop. The bartender — ever decorous after what I can only imagine is some kind of intensive good-manners-and-beard-growing training that all Trappist-affiliated employees must go through — attempted to grant them privacy, despite the fact that they were about four inches from his head. My friend took photos. People stared, though politely. It was mesmerizing. It was above all, impressive, considering that the Trappist Provisions is tiny and relatively well lit and just generally not that kind of place.
Where the original Trappist does the urban-lodge thing with wood-paneled aplomb, its little brother is cooler, sparser, more minimal — white walls, blond wood, few decorations, zero taxidermy. The original Trappist wears sumptuous flannels in shades of evergreen and chocolate; the Trappist Provisions shops at Uniqlo. It’s a smaller space, an existentially tidier place: just a few communal tables, a small bar, nine taps total, and a much smaller food menu, designed to emphasize the retail operation at least as much as the bar operation, with coolers full of exotic bottles occupying decently prime real estate along the wall.
It does not necessarily feel like a space for lounging, and yet, at 9 p.m. on a Monday, it is packed to a degree that would be surprising for any bar, let alone this one. A group of thirtiesish women gossip at one of the picnic tables; next to me, a pair of apparent beer nerds earnestly and happily discuss notes of fig and yeast. At the bar, the amorous couple continues its amorousness with admirable commitment to the cause. The Thornbridge Raven ($8.50 for 33 centiliters; also, yes, the Trappist measures its beers in centiliters because it is that kind of place) was, as promised on the menu, possessing of “sweet malt with pine, citrus and floral hops and a dry roasted finish”; in case it is not yet clear, it is very good. Also, even at 6.6 percent ABV, it is still about half as alcoholic as the booziest beer on the menu. Perhaps this explains the amorous couple? Probably not.