The newest vendor at the Grand Lake Farmers Market is Ale Industries. According to owner and brewmaster, Morgan Cox, his first exposure to brewing was as an employee of E.G. Phair Brewing, where he started out cleaning drains and, eight years later, ended up as their brewmaster.
On March 3, 2009 (a date obviously etched in Morgan’s memory), the first bottle of Ale Industries beer emerged from the packaging line in their original Concord location. Three years later, the brewery and taproom moved to their current location in Oakland on E. 10th – just off Fruitvale.
Asked why they moved, Morgan noted that he is an Oakland resident and felt that, in terms of locally brewed beers, Oakland was badly underrepresented. In addition, unlike San Francisco, there was a plethora of affordable industrial spaces available here in the 5,000–15,000 square foot range. With a ten-year lease and a ten-year option to renew, Ale Industries is likely to stay put for a very long time.
I first met Morgan at the Grand Lake Market two weeks ago. I was frankly a bit disappointed that they weren’t offering free samples but have been assured that they will be doing so sometime soon, once they can make necessary modifications to their set-up. Any lingering disappointment was, however, more than offset when he began explaining some of the environmental methods they’ve undertaken as summarized in an email he sent to me later in the week:
Ale Industries makes what we call, BioEnergy beer. What that means is, the energy that we use to produce our beer is made from biomass, or vegetable oil to be exact. When we moved production from Concord to Oakland back in 2012 we took that opportunity to re-power the brewery with a hand built and self designed boiler that would run on this waste product. We have a great symbiotic relationship with our restaurant accounts. When we drop off kegs of beer, we also pick up their waste vegetable oil. Once we have that back at the brewery we filter it using a heated centrifuge, removing any particulate and water. it is then processed so it can be used in our boiler and our delivery trucks.
We are also working with a start-up company that builds forward osmosis filtration systems. This unit cleans our waste water so well, that what we are putting down the drain is as clean as the city water coming into the building.
Our second largest waste stream is the malted grain that is used to make our beer. Once we have converted the starches to sugar, and rinsed those into our boil kettle, the spent grain is picked up by a rancher, and it is fed to cattle and pigs.
On average we send only 45 cubic feet of waste to the landfill a week, not bad for the largest brewery in Oakland!
To the above I’d add that, since the recent closing of Linden Street and Pacific Brewing, they’re also the “oldest” brewery in Oakland. Also of import, Ale Industries delivers directly to their restaurant AND retail accounts – including here in the Grand Lake District, Bay Grape and Buckingham Wine and Spirits. As one indication of the extent to which they try to support local businesses, the latter receives direct deliveries from a total of five local breweries.
With my curiosity (and taste buds) thoroughly piqued, I visited the brewery last week. It’s a half block off Fruitvale with some parking at the curb and more in a small dedicated lot across the street. It’s neighbor on one side is Norton Factory Studios (whose artists were featured at Panorama Framing a couple of months ago) and, on the other side, Red Bay Coffee (which supplies the cold-brewed coffee for their aptly-named “Fruitvale Grind” beer.
It’s a bright, cheerful space with artwork on the wall opposite the bar – including photographs by Harvey Castro, who is mentioned at some length elsewhere in this month’s News. If you want to get some recreational exercise while imbibing, there’s a full-size pool table ($5 per hour to cover replacement costs) and dartboards on the back wall.
Ale Industries’ beers appear to be as innovative as some of their unique technologies. In addition to lagers and IPAs, their cherry Kush appears to be a big favorite – as are their various sours and tea beers, some of which are brewed with no hops. At this past weekend’s market, I took advantage of a market special and brought home a four-pack of their Red Oak Lager, which I enjoyed immensely.
If you’re planning a trip to the Ale Industries taproom, be sure to check the event calendar on their website for special events which include All Day Happy Hours and specials on flights, growlers and bottles.
3096 E. 10th Street
Monday – Thursday 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Friday – Sunday 12:00 PM – 10:00 PM