There are easy topics brewery owners love to talk about to promote themselves: interesting beer releases, charity work, GABF awards, or cheeky packaging.
And then there are other, much stickier issues most avoid addressing: gentrification, racism and sexism in the industry; labor; and a brewery’s moral responsibility to its community and the people within it.
Sam Gilbert, who co-founded Oakland’s Temescal Brewing about three years ago in the neighborhood with which it shares a name, doesn’t shy away from such difficult conversations. Oakland’s changing, and it’s well past time to talk about it.
Temescal Brewing came into existence in great part because of the community it now counts as patrons. A successful crowdfunding campaign helped the brewery get off the ground, and Gilbert hasn’t forgotten the significance of that. Since then, Temescal has prioritized hiring hyperlocal residents, hosting regular LGBT-focused bashes, and proactively reaching out to communities less frequently seen in your standard brewery taproom.
But the vibes aren’t always positive. Sometimes, being a good neighbor can be much less fun, as when AB InBev announced an intention to open a Golden Road taproom not far from Temescal’s brewhouse. Gilbert, like others in the Oakland craft beer scene, was outspoken against the idea. Ultimately, the plan was quashed, and some believe it was in large part due to vocal critics like Gilbert, and to Oakland’s anti-corporate ideologies.
All of this is to say nothing of the beer. Temescal is frequently cited as one of Bay Area drinkers’ favorite breweries, and its focus on soft, nuanced, and low-ABV styles (and in particular Pilsners) has made fans out of the pickiest consumers. It’s becoming increasingly common to see the brewery’s brightly colored cans in fridges around the Bay.
There’s a reason Temescal’s reputation is as colorful as its approachable, pastel-splashed taproom. It aims for inclusion. And it lives by the motto: “No jerks.”
This is Sam Gilbert of Temescal Brewing. Listen in.
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