One of the first places we sought out to explore interesting beers was a little restaurant and beer bar below grade off College Avenue in Oakland’s Rockridge area. Over the years, we dropped by, took pictures like the one below, hung out with friends and eventually tried dozens of beers. One visit to Barclays using BART gave us the idea to list craft beer destinations near BART stations, leading to the Beer By BART website, and many adventures including writing for The Celebrator and other publications.
There wasn’t anyplace quite like Barclay’s, though it seemed as if there should have been. The food was pretty much straight-ahead pub fare. Many a plate of fish and chips or a burger satisfied kids and adults between dart games and perusal of the deep beer list. Plaques and mugs hung on the walls to honor regulars past and present. Now and then a special meal by nearby resident Bruce Paton raised the culinary game.
The last special dinner was last weekend. The establishment was a casualty of rising rents. Tonight the word is that people will hang out together until the beer is gone. And then, the community that found home there will evaporate into the night.
A Cooler Way to Go
There are many new venues opening, and perhaps, if we are lucky, some of them may come to provide the kind of home Barclays created for regulars and visitors. One new gathering place that deserves a visit is The Cooler, the new project in San Leandro’s downtown, on East 14th Street. It’s an easy, flat walk from BART, under half a mile and under ten minutes for most on foot. We wrote up a description of The Cooler here.
Industry veteran Jeff Botz, Marin Brewing Company Brewmaster Arne Johnson, and their partner, Eric Keyes, have got The Cooler up and running as a comfortable destination with a fine array of beers you can see on their website.
In this picture, taken just before the opening, Arne is fitting out the draft systems at The Cooler with easy connectors he cleverly customized, so that changing kegs in their roomy cold box area will be simple and swift.
Here’s to new places, new ideas and to remembering the pioneers and the places we first encountered the craft beer community.