Almanac Beer Co. has a permanent home for production, securing an Alameda brewery space with an indoor taproom and outdoor beer garden. It’s currently under construction and will open this fall.
For seven years, founders Damian Fagan and Jesse Friedman have operated as roaming contract brewers, crafting their barrel-aged beers on equipment at other local breweries. Their own space, a WWII-era building at 651 W Tower Avenue on the former Alameda naval air station, will quadruple their brewing capacity, and even up their quality in the process, Friedman says. It’s 30,000 square feet with room for a 20-barrel brewing system and 4,000 oak barrels for aging.
“It already looked like a cathedral to barrel-aged beer before we moved in,” Friedman says, with curved redwood beams evoking barrels, at least for someone with beer on the mind. Almanac is one of a small cohort of local breweries, such as the Rare Barrel in Berkeley, that’s betting heavily on sours and barrel-aged beers, labor and time intensive products (with prices to match) and a growing fanbase.
The taproom will have 2,000 square feet of indoor space and 1,000 square feet for an outdoor beer garden. It’s Almanac’s second taproom: Their first, which was also their first physical space, opened on 24th Street near Potrero Avenue last December. Although the brewery distributes to 26 states, its taproom has a special place for Friedman. “It’s the first time that we’ve been able to sell beer direct to Almanac customers,” he says. With drinkers visiting the Alameda brewery and imbibing in the taproom, “we’ll own the whole experience end to end.” The taproom will have IPA flowing right when it opens, but the barrel-aged beers will be longer, the youngest of them ready to drink in the new year. Hungry taproom drinkers can expect snacks and perhaps food trucks.
Friedman and Fagan are grateful to Admiral Maltings, a small-batch malt project from SF brewers Ron Silberstein of Thirsty Bear and Dave McLean of Magnolia: They located the Alameda space in the first place, then brought Almanac onboard. Admiral will open before Almanac, malting California-grown grain with limited quantities for Almanac’s use. Friedman is excited to use that for all-California ingredient beers. “Almanac is all about terroir, and infusing California into our beers,” he says. “Working with Admiral is a great way to step that up to another level.”
In the nearby area, drinkers will find no shortage of other local booze producers to sample, like Faction Brewing and craft distillery St. George Spirits. And for San Franciscans looking to make a trip to the area without the drive, a new ferry terminal, right at Almanac’s doorstep, will open in 2019.
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