Faction Brewing pale ales show up on taps in the bay area from time to time, and they're nearly always fresh and bright with a twist. But it wasn't until writing the book that I thought I had to go visit. I haven't had many chances or reasons to go to the Alameda, and you really have to commit to going to Faction.
It's out there in the middle of nowhere. More correctly, it's out where the Oakland Army Base was. That base was the main conduit for soldiers headed to Vietnam and Korea at one point, and closed in 1999. It's now in the midst of a renovation, but that renovation has left behind many large swaths of industrial land near the port.
Driving out to Faction is just a ham-fisted version of going to most great small craft breweries. Where craft beer lovers have to step through parking lots and make their way through industrial parks all the time, this drive takes them past shuttered factories, large swaths of barren land, and into what used to be a functional part of the port -- which itself looks like straight tarmac, obstructed only barely by the haze coming off the hot tar.
Here's what you see as you park.
Industrial, and beautiful. And, at $2.50 a taster, a beachfront bargain worthy of any HGTV time slot.
There's no kitchen, but there's usually a food truck. There's plenty of seating outside, and that beautiful sunset view, and since you've come so far, you're not really planning a second part of the day. So you sit and enjoy.
I'd say the pale ales are their best foot forward -- their head brewer Rodger Davis was the creator of Drake's Denoggenizer DIPA after all -- but there are plenty of Belgians and stouts on tap, too. You just won't get any brett beers, saisons, or sours, not yet at least. The barrel program is still in the wings.
I enjoyed one of their two-hop beers, Vic Secret and Centennial, that's part of their ongoing series of two-hop pales. I found it super easy to drink, like a session but with more substance than most sessions.
I also had a taster of their Cooler IPA, which had blended mango in an Amarillo / Idaho 7 IPA. It was, of course, fruity, but here's something funny that happens if you get your fruitiness from actual fruit -- you don't get that aroma that you would get if you got it from hops. And I bet if you combined all that mango with Nelson hops, you might get a fruit overload.
The last beer I had was the best. Noslen IPA was the beer I took home in the growler, and it was a delicious, big, Nelson / Dr. Rudi fruit-bomb that was still... bright and fresh. That's really the best combo you can put together if you ask me. Too many big DIPAs descend into syrup, this one didn't.
If you're a pale ale fan visiting the Bay Area, add Faction to Cellarmaker, Drake's, and Fieldwork on your must-drink list.