There's a new kid on the block next to St. George Spirits and Rock Wall Winery, and you guessed it -- it's a brewery. Faction Brewing completes the Alameda Naval Air base's boozy trifecta with six taps, a killer view of the San Francisco skyline, and a parking lot-turned-patio to soak up the East Bay sun.
Faction was opened late last year by industry veterans Claudia Pamparana and Rodger Davis, who have combined experience at 21st Amendment, Drakes and Triple Rock. Their following shows: On Saturdays the lines are out the door and Faction's suds are popping up more and more on local taps.
A flight featuring all six beers is $13 and it's a tasty intro to the taproom. Hopheads will have plenty of options here. Amongst the lighter brews is the 2 Hop Pale Ale, a crisp beer with a citrusy jab. Four beers down the spectrum is the Blitzen IIPA, a triple IPA that at 10.2 percent ABV tastes a little like impending danger, but mostly like hops and honeysuckle. Belgian fans will enjoy the Defcon I, a mellow Belgian quad with cherry undertones.
While the taproom and patio are bare bones, being at the edge of the island makes up for it. The uninterrupted view spans from South San Francisco to the Lego-like shipping containers on the Oakland port. Picnic tables are aplenty, but there's no shade, so heat-sensitive folks be warned.
To wash down the beer, do like the regulars and bring a picnic or enjoy one of the rotating food vendors on Friday through Sunday. There's BBQ on Saturdays and this last Sunday Off The Grid regular Sticks Corn Dogs was slanging dogs and tater tots for $5 a pop. Their batters sometimes incorporate jalapeño or bacon, and a typical hot dog is replaced with sausages like habanero and pepper jack chicken and Louisiana hotlinks. They may call them gourmet and hand-dipped, but rest assured that it's still impossible to look fancy eating a corn dog, especially after several beers.
The brewery is planning to start bottling soon, but for now customers can walk away with 32-ounce or 64-ounce growlers. In about two weeks the taps will expand, offering up to twenty beers. Look out for a Spring IPA, a new Belgian and come fall, barrel aged beers made with barrels from next door.
Tasting room hours are noon to 8 Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 6 on Sunday.
Insider's tip: Get there by sea! Ferries from the San Francisco Ferry Building and Pier 41 dock at the Alameda Main Street terminal, about a mile from the brewery.