If all those pics of your friends enjoying craft beers with bay views on Instagram are stoking your FOMO, plan an afternoon brewery hop in Alameda—in case you missed it, the former naval base on the waterfront is home to a booming booze scene.
Alameda Point has long been a destination for thrifters and vintage lovers who come for the acclaimed monthly Antiques Faire, but in recent years the rise of Spirits Alley has encouraged bridge-and-tunnelers to stay, hang out, and drink a while.
Monarch Street is now home to no fewer than a dozen distilleries and tasting rooms including the OG Hangar 1 Vodka, award-winning St. George Spirits, and local favorite Rock Wall Wine Company. But if it's beer you want, then beer you will have. Take your pick from imperial IPAs, nuanced barrel-aged sours, German-style Berliner weisse, and more at a few of our favorite breweries in Alameda—on Spirits Alley and beyond.
(Courtesy of @alamedaislandbrewing)
Alameda Island Brewing Company
Start your day downtown where the tasting room at Alameda Island Brewing Company has been known for its vast selection of IPAs and darker beers—think 22 on tap—since 2015. Laidback nautical decor and ample casual seating draws a young crowd who build their own six-packs ($21) and come for special releases such as the Rum Barrel Aged Neptune's Harvest (a pineapple saison) and 2021 anniversary release Hidden Buddha. The bar does not serve food but lets you bring your own, so grab takeout first at Fire Wings or Monkey King Pub & Grub nearby. On nice days, try to snag a table among the potted succulents outside in the shaded courtyard.
// Alameda Island Brewing is open at 1pm daily and also offers takeout and delivery; 1716 Park St. (Alameda), alamedaislandbrewing.com
Almanac's patio is the perfect spot for a sour beer on a sunny day.(Courtesy of @almanacbeer)
Almanac Beer Company
In a one-time naval hangar over on Spirits Alley, Almanac's Alameda taproom is best known for its signature IPAs such as the Love Hazy IPA and sours like the barrel-aged Hypernova. But even non-beer lovers will like it for its spacious and lively patio (dogs welcome!)—don't worry, they've got heat lamps if things get too chilly. There's also plenty of room for tasting your way through oak-aged lagers and decadent stouts inside where a large bay-themed mural sets a local vibe. Hungry? Food truck eats are on offer. On Tuesdays, order the signature red tacos and cajeta-filled churros from La Santa Torta; Wednesdays through Mondays, Scolari's Good Eats slings crispy chicken sandwiches. Keep your eyes peeled for limited release fresh beers and collaborations such as Haunting the Tower (a West Coast IPA made with Ghost Town Brewing Co.) and the special Pride Love IPA. You can also order cans from the Airstream in the outdoor beer garden.
// Almanac Beer Company is open daily, hours vary; 651 W Tower Ave. Ste. B .(Alameda), almanacbeer.com
Get a rare view of an active malting floor from The Rake pub at Admiral Maltings.(Courtesy of Admiral Maltings)
The Rake at Admiral Maltings
An easy hop from Almanac (it's right next door), Admiral Maltings was founded by industry vets Ron Silberstein (ThirstyBear) and Dave McLean (Magnolia) with a singular purpose: to invigorate the craft of producing fresh malt. Admiral's malt is made from California-grown organic grains and is the choice of brewers at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Monkish, and Woodfour. But more to the point, the Admiral also serves beer in its pub, The Rake, which provides a bird's eye view to the action. You'll find more than 20 draft and cask beers here including pilsners, lagers, stouts, and hazy IPAs, and even a small selection of wine for beer-hating dates. There are snacks like warm pretzels, salads, tri-tip and pulled chicken sandwiches, and brats. High ceilings and lots of windows make the bar feel roomier than it is; if you can't find a seat, take your order to the patio at Almanac. They're cool with it.
// The Rake at Admiral Maltings is open noon to 8pm Wednesday through Saturday and until 6pm Sunday; 651 W Tower Ave. (Alameda), admiralmaltings.com
At Faction Brewing on Alameda, seasonal beer releases pair best with a San Francisco sunset.(Courtesy of @factionbrewing)
Any Alameda brewery tour must end at Faction Brewing where you can cap the day watching the sunset over San Francisco from the popular outdoor patio (you have definitely seen this on Insta). Bring the dogs and order one of the weekly specials or seasonal releases like the tangerine-infused B Weisse R or the Vandelay Wit with coriander. Faction produces a wide range of beers in its 20-barrel brewhouse so there are also plenty of other options including the year-round Faction Pale, the Defcon 3 Dubbel, and a chocolatey Belgian stout. Since it's the end of a boozy day, you'll need to eat. Check the food truck calendar to see who's rolling up—this July, expect Satay by the Bay, the Mexican-Hawaiian Locos Only, and Grilled Cheez Guy.
// Faction Brewing is open for two-hour table limits Wednesday through Sunday, hours vary and no reservations are accepted; 2501 Monarch St. (Alameda), factionbrewing.com.