Oak Park Brewing Co. is hosting previews Saturday and Sunday. Bee staff
Oak Park Brewing Co. is hosting previews Saturday and Sunday. Bee staff

Beer Run

Blair Anthony Robertson keeps up with what's brewing in craft beers

Beer Run

Oak Park Brewing Co. is finally ready for business

By Blair Anthony Robertson

brobertson@sacbee.com

November 13, 2014 04:00 PM

You’ve probably been hearing about Oak Park Brewing Co. for so long that you may have wondered if this place was ever going to open.

Seven beers on tap. Food. Big-time design details in a 90-year-old building. Live music. Tons of outdoor seating.

It’s all very real, and it’s happening Saturday and Sunday. The partners behind this exciting new addition to the local beer community started looking for a building 21/2 years ago. There have been delays and design changes and building permit issues to confront – all things that made the opening day a moving target for so long.

“Finally,” said co-founder Tom Karvonen, noting that the old warehouse-style building had some structural issues that required engineering.

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All that extra time, attention and, yes, money have made the space “look amazing,” Karvonen said. Exposed interior brick, open rafters, steel beams and columns will give the building a “Victorian-industrial feel, almost a steampunk kind of thing.”

I’ve already heard good reports on the beer. The brewery was pouring at a recent “Gather” street party event in Oak Park.

This weekend’s preview runs 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday, and is open to everyone. Many local brewers are expected to be on hand to show their support.

Oak Park Brewing Co. has a full kitchen, though the menu will be limited during this preview opening.

I asked Karvonen how the beer will stand out from other craft breweries.

“We like to say we’re a British and Belgian ale with a West Coat edge,” he said. “Our IPAs, although they have great hop aroma and flavor, also have a nice malt finish and balance. We have great, complex beers that are well balanced. We have some beers that we think will be our showcase beers, but that’s up to the customer to decide.”

Oak Park Brewing Co. is the latest piece of good news in Oak Park, which has been riding a wave of momentum in recent years, including new housing. Just across the street, Old Soul coffee shop is expanding, taking over a 900-square-foot adjacent space that will focus on serving wine and craft beer, and is expected to have an “experimental kitchen.”

Karvonen said he and his partners are excited about the potential in the neighborhood.

“I think the area is fantastic and really up-and-coming,” he said. “I see all the buzz about the Broadway Triangle (a new live-work project) and there are so many people moving into the area. We’re very excited to be part of the renaissance that’s happening.”

The owners plan to officially open the brewery Thursday; hours will be 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays (3514 Broadway, Sacramento; 916-660-2723; www.opbrewco.com).

Honk for Goose Island

Goose Island Brewery came to town recently as part of a 32-city tour to celebrate the craft beer industry and promote its many impressive beers.

The company, which made news (and incited plenty of controversy) when it was sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev, has some of the most highly regarded beers going, even as some have argued the brewery sold its soul to an international conglomerate. Goose Island execs have argued that its recipes and approach to brewing will not be influenced by the parent company.

I tasted the Bourbon County Stout coffee beer at Capitol Beer and Tap Room and found it to be an incredible, deeply nuanced and balanced beer while still being big and flavor-forward. At 13.2 percent ABV, it’s not something to guzzle. I took advantage of Capitol Beer’s 5-ounce option and, for me, that was plenty. I had just come from LowBrau, where I had enjoyed a Prairie Bomb by Prairie Artisan Ales (14 percent ABV). These are two of the best coffee beers going.

I caught up with Goose Island brewer Tim Faith, who said that aging beer in bourbon barrels, for instance, imparts all kinds of additional flavor notes – coconut, vanilla and cinnamon were very prominent in the Bourbon County coffee stout I tasted.

The Bourbon County series of beers, with high alcohol and complex flavors, tend to change and become more nuanced and well-rounded with age. Awhile back, I told you about IPAs and the importance of freshness. With some beers, aging is worthwhile. In fact, some Bourbon County beers that are just a few years old sell for $50 or more per bottle.

Much has been made of the proper temperature for drinking these stouts. Many beer aficionados tend to like them at about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, arguing that the flavors tend to open up at warmer temperatures. But Faith sees it differently. He likes to start with his beer at about 40 degrees, “then see how the flavors change as it gets warmer.”

Call The Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @Blarob.

What we’re drinking: Some of the best beers I’ve had recently have been from Sudwerk Brewing’s “Brewers Cut” series. It’s a special, barrel-aged program that is turning out some amazing beer, including Buffalo Theory, a very unusual but enticing sour oatmeal stout; Uncle Fester, a sour doppelbock; and Neighborino, a Flanders Oud Bruin style beer aged in Petite Sirah barrels with cherries and strawberries. All of them are distinctive, drink beautifully and are just the right kind of crazy.

The best way to get future beers from this series is to join the Brewers Cut club – $170 for 2014, which includes a large bottle of limited-release, barrel-aged beer each month, along with some bonus beers. There is a waiting list, and Sudwerk of Davis hopes to grow the program for 2015. If you’re interested, get on the waiting list; www.sudwerkbrew.com.