Admiral Maltings started supplying its small batch malt to local breweries last summer and is now ready for visitors to taste the fruits of its labor — 20 taps of beer brewed with Admiral malt — at a new taproom, The Rake. Named for the floor malting implement used to turn and aerate drying grain, the bar is located right inside the malthouse at Alameda Point (651A W Tower Avenue) with views onto the malting floor.
“For the most part, malt still follows the old model, back when there was just Budweiser, Miller, and Coors,” Admiral Maltings’ co-owner Ron Silberstein told Eater SF last September. Even small breweries get most of their malt — which is one of beer’s four main ingredients — from large suppliers who mostly cater to mega breweries. To truly break free of big beer, Silberstein suggested, micro breweries should invest in small, local malt. And judging by The Rake’s tap list, many brewers have already made the switch.
Available at the outset are beers made with Admiral malt like Drake’s Tiberius Barley Wine, Harmonic Brewing’s Admiral Feldblume lager, Marin Brewing Co.’s Admiral Loran Saison, Faction’s McCrary’s Pale, and Headlands’ Kirby Cove IPA.
To go with its beer, The Rake serves cheese, charcuterie, sandwiches, and salty snacks like whitefish toast and pickled quail eggs — a “tight, tasty pub fare program,” as Silberstein calls it. The pub’s 2,000-square-foot space was designed by Ben Frombgen and Gamut. Its large building, constructed in 1944, was once a Naval warehouse, and it stays true to its industrial history, with original Douglas fir beams and the addition of faux-faded industrial signage. It’s “a nod to that period” and a symbol of the not-quite-faded history of local malt production.
There’s room for 150 people at the Rake’s tables and bar, which was made from railway track that came from the Transcontinental Railroad. But the best seats in the house are those with a view of the action: Five snug booths that look out onto the 20,000 square foot malting facility floor.
If watching malt cool sounds as exciting as watching paint dry, consider that you’re not supposed to consume paint. “This is a way not only to show visitors how malt is made, and connect them to the principle ingredient, but it gives them a single spot to try beer made with Admiral malt,” Silberstein explains.
To that end, Silberstein admits “it would be far cheaper to get a warehouse in Winters, where we’re right next to the farmers. But we chose to do this in an urban environment in part to create an educational opportunity for brewers and customers, to see what malt really is.”
The Alameda location also places Admiral near several of its major customers: Faction Brewing, St. George Spirits, and soon, Almanac Beer Co., whose own brewery will open under the same roof later this year.
The Rake is now open, with initial hours on Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m, Saturday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.