A mere four blocks from the Oakland City Center BART station lies Pacific Coast Brewing. Unimposing from the outside, the stained glass above the front door first greets customers. Inside, customers first spot the large mirror and wooden tripple-arches behind the bar. In front are a dozen wooden stools, while nearby stand another three dozen tall tables and chairs. Below - hardwood floors, 20 feet above - a plastered ceiling, all around - red brick walls. The other side of the center wall hosts a front dining room with seating for about 30, with entrances from both locations to the outdoor beer garden. The brewhouse and the restrooms are located in the basement and are wheelchair accessible via an elevator.
The cozy main dining area offers another dozen wooden tables and chairs along with a CD sound system, two dartboards, a beer bottle collection, and framed posters of 20th century American beers. Hanging overhead is the beer menu, a large chalkboard listing the current house and guest offerings. Also overhead are electric ceiling fans that maintain circulation. Ventilation is no longer a problem since Big Brother, aka the State of California, has effectively outlawed tobacco smoking inside businesses such as brewpubs. Two TVs without sound are also unobtrusively on hand. The nearby stairs lead down to the source of the beers, the seven barrel brewhouse.
The three 6-tap towers are pouring the six house beers, domestic and imported guest beers, and one cider. The cask-conditioned Gray Whale, 1050 OG, offers a lingering creamy white head with a hoppy aroma, light body, very smooth light hop over malt flavor, and hoppy finish. This was a Bronze Medal winner at the '91 Great American Beer Festival (GABF). The Belgian Triple appears a hazy dark gold, topped by a fine white head, the malty flavor is accompanied by a serious alcohol character that follows through into the finish. Potent, yet surprisingly easy-drinking. This recipe took the Bronze in the Belgian Ale category at the GABF in 1994. The Imperial Stout, at 10%, offers a roasted aroma, thick creamy head, big body, great mouthfeel, and a mellow roasted flavor with a strong alcoholic kick. The Blue Whale Ale is a clear amber that begins with a hoppy aroma and hoppy flavor but the focus quickly changes to the oakiness that dominates everything else. This one might need some more time to mellow. The mouthfeel is very smooth and all the right flavors are "in there." The Code Blue Barleywine comes in at 10% and appears an opaque brown. The big mouthfeel is accompanied by a pronounced maltiness and alcoholic character. The hop bitterness moderates the flavor balance so as to keep the bold maltiness in check. The Yellow Jacket (specialty) is gold in color with a sulphury hop bitterness. Medium-bodied, it's balanced toward a malty sweetness but without any cloying character. A guest beer down from Fulton in Sonoma County is the Moonlight Bombay By Boat IPA. The intense hop bitterness of this dark amber brew is matched to a very big body and equally full mouthfeel. All pints run $3.50, with 10-ounce glasses $2.75, and a set of six 4-ounce samplers $6.75.
The evening menu offers attractive Pub Specialties such as Sandwiches, Chicken, Meatloaf, Crab, Bangers, and Brats for $6 to $9. Soup & Salad selections include Tuna, Greek, and Chinese. Pizzas are $7 to $15 and range from Mexicana to Veggie. Appetizers can be had for $2 to $7 and offer Mushrooms, Jalepeño, Guacamole, and Potato Skins. Closing time is 10:30 P.M. Monday through Thursday, 11 P.M. Friday and Saturday, and 9 P.M. Sunday. Great house beers, an extensive micro selection from around Northern California, and a comfortable atmosphere all make Pacific Coast Brewing worth seeking out. Only minutes from the nearest BART station, there's no good reason not to check them out.
Pacific Coast Brewing
906 Washington St.
Oakland, CA 94607
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - March 1996 & June 2000
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