A few days ago while riding Amtrak from Sacramento to Oakland I overheard a group of business colleagues talking about where to get a good beer in San Francisco. I butted in and offered them some easy to get to (using BART) beer drinking joints in the East Bay.
That conversation was the germ of this post about finding good suds in Oakland and Berkeley.
In the course of research, I came across a fun and useful website that lists places to ease your thirst throughout the BART system: BeerByBART.com. (I kid you not.)
Happy beer swilling!
OAKLAND (close to 12th Street BART):
Pacific Coast Brewing Co.
906 Washington Street
Pacific Coast brews its own beer but also offers a limited selection of other good craft brews. They serve pub food, and in nice weather offer outdoor seating. It can get quite busy on weekdays after 5:00 p.m. due to the many offices in downtown Oakland. See note with The Trappist below about eats and sleeps close by.
460 – 8th Street
As you might gather from the name, The Trappist specializes in Belgian beer with 15 (mostly Belgian and Californian) brews on tap, plus 140 more in bottles. I haven’t yet had a chance to go to The Trappist but from their website I do not believe they serve any food. It’s a narrow little place with just enough room to drink! But if you get hungry check out New World Vegan restaurant right next door – it’s delicious. And there’s a Mexican tapas place right next to New World called Tamarindo. (The Oakland Marriott, Courtyard and the Washington Inn are very close to both The Trappist and Pacific Coast Brewing Co., should you plan on getting “too Belgian” or “too Pacific”.)
OAKLAND (close to Rockridge BART):
5940 College Avenue
30 (count ’em) craft brews on tap at any given time. It isn’t cheap at $5.50 per pint but here’s a little cost saving hint: go to the bar before 6 p.m. and buy 4 green tokens for $19 (works out to $4.75 per pint). The chips themselves can be used at anytime. (Don’t forget to tip the server when you redeem the chips.) Delicious pub food and more, with specials available after 6 p.m. The place is tucked away a few feet below sidewalk level and has a small outdoor area. Barclay’s is very popular and gets noisy but it’s worth it.
Ben & Nick’s
5612 College Avenue
Barclay’s is three blocks north of Rockridge BART and Ben & Nick’s is one block south. My partner and I used to make Ben & Nick’s our regular hangout until we discovered Barclay’s, but it’s still a good pick. In addition to having an excellent, changing selection of craft beers on tap, it also has a full liquor bar in case a cocktail is what you’re hankering for. Ben & Nick’s also has three dark, cozy booths that easily seat up to four. Good pub food, too. Try the beet salad when you want something healthy in addition to your fries. A window seat on a nice day is a good place to people watch on College Avenue. Like Barclay’s, it gets noisy when it’s crowded.
OAKLAND (not close to a BART station):
Cato’s Ale House
3891 Piedmont Avenue
Cato’s and Ben & Nick’s used to be owned by the same person but I suspect that may no longer be the case since Cato’s has its own website whereas Ben & Nick’s does not. Nonetheless, their food menus are similar although happily Cato’s also offers pizza. Curiously, Cato’s does not serve hard liquor. Like Ben & Nicks, they offer a great beer selection on tap. Fun neighborhood vibe, and located in an old house on Piedmont Avenue.
BERKELEY (close to the main Berkeley BART station):
2181 Shattuck Avenue
Jupiter is one very cool place just a couple of blocks from the UC Berkeley campus. Like Pacific Coast Brewing Co., they serve both a selection of their own beers plus a revolving array of other craft brews. The food menu consists of pub grub and excellent pizza. Jupiter has an attractive, terraced outdoor seating area behind the main building. Jupiter appears to be owned by the same concern that operates Bear’s Lair (right on the Cal campus) and Triple Rock described below.
Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse
1920 Shattuck Avenue
Triple Rock brews and serves a large selection of its own beers although not those of other breweries. I haven’t been to Triple Rock in a number of years but based on its on-line menu it appears to offer the usual pub fare and salads, but not pizza. Triple Rock is a few blocks north of BART and University Avenue, whereas Jupiter is located south of University and right across the street from BART.