Out to Concord to visit Derek Smith and Black Diamond Brewing

Where in the world is Black Diamond Brewing Company? The name may remind you of the diamond-shaped danger signs that set off the steepest downhill ski trails. Perhaps you know about the old former coal mines on the slopes of Mount Diablo, now a regional historical park. Or maybe you remember going to Black Diamond when it was a brew pub in Walnut Creek. Relocated to north Concord and no longer a pub, this brewery was named for those historic mines, and their beers are becoming a favorite in the Tahoe area, enjoyed after the day’s last snowboard descent or summer hike.

Derek Smith of Black Diamond Brewing
Derek Smith of Black Diamond Brewing

Last week we arranged to go out to Black Diamond Brewing in their current location, a little more than a mile from North Concord BART Station. While they are no longer a brewpub operation, the brewery tasting room sported afternoon regulars chatting away over favorite special beers, such as an intensely chocolate Imperial Porter. People swing by to pick up cases and six packs of their Jagged Edge English-style IPA, hoppy Steep Trail amber ale and flagship FreeStyle Belgian blonde out of the tasting room, open afternoons Monday through Friday.

Black Diamond tap room
Black Diamond tap room

New packaging at Black Diamond
New packaging at Black Diamond

Derek Smith is now in charge of Black Diamond’s brewing, and his creativity is bursting forth. He’s been adjusting and fine-tuning the popular recipes, adding his own and is ramping up to start barrel aging some of his bigger beers for special releases. The Imperial porter, brewed with an array of roasty malts and sinfully rich Scharffen Berger cocoa nibs, is a likely candidate for this particular treatment. In contrast with the rows of gleaming tanks, the new second-hand bourbon barrels have an enticing decrepit look. Sometime next fall we should get to experience this next chapter in the barrel saga.

Bourbon barrels for beer aging
Bourbon barrels for beer aging

Closer in the future, Black Diamond will be at the Booneville festival, and the two of us are honored that Derek invited us to help pour their beers at this legendary outdoor beer festival. We’re packing our tent… Perhaps we’ll see you there.

To Be Continued!

Explore Beer By BART – see our main list of Bay Area good beer places with detailed transit info, and get out there to enjoy without driving.

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