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Sep 22, 2014

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Walnut Creek

January, 2000

By Bobby Bush

The original Jupiter opened in Berkeley sometime in 1994. Owned by the same group that owns Triple Rock, a Berkeley brewpub of some repute, the multi-tap Jupiter never brewed a beer, even though thereís an honest to goodness brewhouse on site. Rumor has it that some sort of political mumbo-jumbo created the brewpub/no-brewpub situation. Even without its own house-brewed beers, Jupiter is a good Berkeley party bar.

Regardless, there is now a brewing Jupiter. In operation since April 1999 in the suburban town of Walnut Creek, this unusual brewpub is like three breweries in one. The Jupiter beers are all West Coast style and include Jupiter Wheat (American-style, of course), Jupiter Golden Ale, a hoppy Jupiter Red and refreshing dry-hopped Jupiter IPA. From the same seven barrel brewhouse, brewer Blake Bomben also brews the Old Globe line. These English-style ales include Old Globe ESB, Old Globe Pale Ale, Old Globe Brown and a burnt coffee flavored Old Globe Stout. The Europa beers are all continental lagers. They include a malty smooth Europa Marzen and Europa Pilsner. Iím not sure which category Comet, a cupboard-emptying, spice-free, caramel-ish Special Holiday Ale, fell into, but it was nice nonetheless. Kegs of Jupiter beers are shipped to Berkeley for sale in that non-brewing establishment. There were plenty of guest beers, including Bay Area micros like Drakes Ale, Red Rocket, Moylanís Burnt Amber and Twist of Fate Bitter.

The structure was more of a food bar than a beer bar, so we watched as the chef prepared several appetizing salads in a cramped, but open kitchen. A wood-fired oven flickered close by. No sampler trays were available, but the waitress was helpful with multiple tastes and endless responses to our inane questions. Look Ďem up at www.jupiterbeer.com.

After arguing with the parking meter man, we walked half-block down the street to Faultline Brewing Company. Another sister facility - the original Faultline opened in Sunnyvale, southwest across the Bay, back in 1993 or so - this big circa-1997 brewpub had a huge brewery behind glass and eleven beers to show for it. From behind the long black marble-topped bar, our super model-like bartendress was cold, but helpful. We tried all eleven, more or less in order from light to dark, make that sweet to bitter. Most notable were the quick finishing Kolsch, light coffee-toned Best Bitter, Scottish-style Holiday Strong, malty Doppel Bock and burgundy-colored, seductive Old Battle Axe Barleywine, a wonderful sipping beer.

Faultline partners Steve Geiszler and Mark Perry will soon be opening a cider brewery and restaurant in downtown San Francisco. A Sacramento brewpub is also in the offing. Keep up with this growing business at www.faultlinebrewing.com.

This was my second trip to Black Diamond Brewing Company. Open since November 1995, itís Walnut Creekís oldest brewpub. Located adjacent to a busy Harley Davidson dealership and housed in an old car dealership, this airy, two-floor structure features lots of stained wood, a hardwood floor and redwood-stained, curvy bar top. An upscale restaurant, featuring everything from Turkey Burger West to Pasta Pomodoro, beer is still the local language. We passed on a cloudy Hefe-Weizen and light Golden Ale and chose Pale Ale to start. This medium bodied brew began with a soapy start (poor glass washing practices?), and evolved into to a nicely hopped pale with a mild, pleasing aftertaste. Irish Stout, smooth from nitrogen, was coffee-esque with a very dry finish. An Amber Ale and Brown Ale were also on tap, but we were too bloated to give them a try. You can find more about Black Diamond at www.bdbrewing.com.

Thatís it for this beer-filled trip to the great Left Coast. Belch .... hope you enjoyed the ride.

This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.

© Bobby Bush

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