Already a rising Bay Area booze destination thanks to its collection of craft distilleries and tasting rooms, Alameda's Spirits Alley is adding to its roster this fall with its second brewery, a third winery, and some of California's first micro-maltsters. Here's what you need to know about the upcoming hot spots.
Cofounder Ron Silberstein visits a Sacramento Valley barley field where Admiral Maltings sources some of its grain.(Eric Wolfinger)
The Bay Area has hosted craft breweries, wineries, and spirit producers for decades, but Admiral Maltings is bringing a California first to Alameda: a micro-malthouse producing small-batch malt. Occupying a 20,000-square-foot World War II–era Navy warehouse, the aptly named company will also open an onsite restaurant and pub sometime in October, allowing visitors to try various libations made with Admiral malt, peer into the production space, and learn what goes into making this lesser known beer and spirits ingredient.
It may not (yet) get the same attention as hops command, but malt is arguably the most important beer component, creating its golden color and contributing to the flavor. And the company's cofounders aim to give malt the recognition it deserves—ThirstyBear Brewing Co.'s Ron Silberstein, Magnolia Brewing Co.'s Dave McLean, and head maltster Curtis Davenport hope to familiarize beer lovers with this layer of craft beer personalization. "It's just this whole part of the brewing process that has been kind of hidden in the shadows," Davenport says.
Using sustainably grown Sacramento Valley barley and a pre-Prohibition floor-malting method, Admiral Maltings will provide a rare local malt option for area brewers and distillers, many of whom source theirs from as far away as Germany. Faction Brewing, Almanac Beer Co., and St. George Spirits (the company's new neighbors) have all expressed interest in trying it out, and it'd be no surprise to see brews from Magnolia and ThirstyBear featuring Admiral's malted barley in the future. // 651 W. Tower Ave. (Alameda), admiralmaltings.com
Almanac's new facility was a U.S. Navy dry goods warehouse during World War II. In reference to the space, cofounder Jesse Friedman says, "It just looks like a cathedral to barrel-aged beer already."(Courtesy of Almanac Beer Co.)
Almanac Brewery & Barrelhouse
San Francisco's Almanac Beer Co., known for its sours and barrel-aged brews, is expanding to Alameda Point, where the company will produce all of its craft beer in a building shared with Admiral Maltings beginning in late fall. Cofounders Damian Fagan and Jesse Friedman are readying their 30,000-square-foot space to feature both a full-production brewery and a taproom offering brewery tours, taproom-only beers, and snacks.
Brewing since 2010, Fagan and Friedman just opened their first Almanac taproom and beer garden in the Mission last December, but never had their own brewing facility until now. According to Friedman, Almanac is looking forward to contributing to Alameda's growing brewing and spirits scene while still maintaining their SF presence. Be on the lookout for new Almanac brews made with malt from neighboring Admiral Maltings once both facilities are up and running. // 2704 24th St. (Mission); coming in late fall to 651 W. Tower Ave., Unit B (Alameda), almanacbeer.com
After seven years in Oakland, Urban Legend Cellars is moving its wine production to Spirits Alley. Although they're keeping their Jack London Square tasting room intact for now, husband-and-wife team Steve and Marilee Shaffer are trading their current 2,200 square feet of manufacturing space for Building 25 at Alameda Point, where they'll have 18,000 square feet to work with. "The last two harvests have been a lot like making wine in a walk-in closet in Manhattan," Marilee says.
The Shaffers have big dreams for their new digs. Aside from the 13,000 square feet they'll use for winemaking, the Alameda-based pair plans to build out a tasting room to not only offer traditional sampling but also accommodate those who want to linger over a glass or two. They're also looking into the possibility of adding a full-service kitchen to create a complementary food and wine experience. And before all that? Expect special events and wine club gatherings out at the Point as early as August. // 200 2nd St. (Oakland); coming in fall to 1951 Monarch St, Ste. 300 (Alameda), ulcellars.com