Creative young startups reinventing traditional businesses with cheeky exuberance, unconventional ideas, and fresh perspectives have become, well, the standard in the Bay Area. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the exploding craft-brew scene.
Every angle of the microbrew experience is being reconsidered and revamped in Silicon Valley style: conventional methods are being tweaked with new flavors and tastes (from chocolate and espresso to almonds and rhubarb) and christened with droll names — try ordering an All Sticky No Icky or Hammer Pants with a straight face! With each brewery testing the waters in different ways — from environmentally advanced packaging and bottling, to innovative labels created by local artists and designers, to surprising event pairings with charitable and social causes — there are as many different ways to serve, sip, and savor your suds as there are brewers and barrels.
Indeed, one of the most compelling reasons to visit Bay Area brewpubs and taprooms is the incredible diversity not only of brewing philosophies, but also of the brewers themselves. Local surfers, historians, designers, public servants, Peace Corps volunteers, and biz-school professors have all turned their talents to craft-beer brewing, each making their own unique contribution in every way from matching beers to food, recreating classic tastes from ancient times, and melding art, music, and community into serving beer with a social conscience. These new brewers also make themselves intimately available to their public, with many maintaining informative, amusing blog posts, and/or scheduling regular meet-and-greet events and release parties. There are even new, socially engaging ways to “visit” the breweries of your choice without even driving — you can hitch a ride on the funkily decked out Brew Cruz bus, or use your own (and your friends’) pedal power to pub-hop on the San Jose Brewery Bike. We promise you’ll never see (or taste) beer in the same way again.
For places to try, see our list of local breweries here.
By Melissa Duge Spiers