PBN Brewery Check-In – Alameda Island Brewing Co. Friday, July 20th, 2018
Alameda Island Brewing Company is located in Alameda, California – a town officially founded in 1853 just adjacent to Oakland and to the east across the south bay from San Francisco. The ‘Island City’ (actually two islands) is the home of Coast Guard Station Alameda, which is how founder, Brewmaster and Coast Guard alumni, Matthew Fox, found his way here.
Originally from Southern California, Matt was a boatswain’s mate in the late 1990’s on the Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau, whose home port was Alameda. After leaving the coast guard, he worked as a compliance analyst for a casino while developing his skills as a garage homebrewer. But, Matt decided to go pro. As he says, “Every homebrewer has it in the back of their heads,” and interned for a couple of years at Inland Empire Brewing Company in Riverside, CA, before building Alameda Island Brewing Company over a two-year period with partner and investor Bill Phua.
The décor of the tasting room immediately reminds you of his heritage, with orange life preservers from coast guard vessels on the walls, many of them signed by crew members. 20 taps line the wall behind the bar, filled with a wide range of creations. The walls on either side of the tap row are covered with ‘pay it forward’ names on wood craft sticks; civilians to the left, military and service folks to the right.
There is a noticeable presence of German styles in the lineup as Matt notes, “I love German beers!” Their library includes Kolsch, Altbier, Kottbusser (a historic German wheat ale), and of course, the Autumnator Doppelbock available through our BrewMarketplace. There’s also Uncommon Common on draft – a Kentucky Common – an almost forgotten American pre-prohibition style beer designed by Kentucky-based German brewers in the 1800’s.
AIBC opened in February 2015 and still features several of his original beers, including Cavanaugh Kolsch and Alameda’s IPA, which is an east coast-style IPA with a firm malt backbone. Speaking of IPAs, the menu covers the range with dank, brut, west coast, east coast, and hazy IPA offerings, showing that Matt’s IPA-centric SoCal homebrew history still holds a place in his brewing philosophy.
With seventeen 40-barrel fermenters, a 20-barrel kettle, and a 40-barrel mash tun, the brewery can easily handle their taproom and keg demands. Why the larger mash tun? They can work with a larger amount of grain and make high-gravity beers.
AIBC is definitely a ‘family affair’; Matt’s sister-in-law Jennah Heimans manages the office, brother-in-law Michael Heimans serves as the tasting room supervisor. Assistant brewers Dylan Cardiff and Dan Morgan, and cellarman Casey “the human forklift” Roloson, round out the brewery staff. Delivery driver Vince Mata keeps their quaffables flowing at bars and restaurants around the region.
Next time you’re in the Bay area for a ballgame, be sure to drop into this warm and unique taproom!