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Bay Area beer tour, Part 1: Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse

April 26, 2011 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Favorite Bars, Travelin'

Triple Rock Brewery - sign

I attended a conference last week in the Bay Area and managed to do quite a bit of exploration of the various breweries and beer bars in and around San Francisco. I’ll share photos and observations about the places in a series of Bay Area beer tour posts.

Founded 25 years ago and touted as the oldest “original” brewpub in the United States, Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse brews great beers in the heart of Downtown Berkley, Calif.

Triple Rock was the 5th brewpub to open in the U.S., and among those early brewpubs, it’s the only one still owned and operated by the original founders. It also still uses the original brewing equipment.

The pub opened in 1986 as “Roaring Rock,” but the name sounded a little too familiar to the owners of LaTrobe Brewing Company, makers of Rolling Rock beer. (The daughter of the president of the conglomerate that owned Latrobe Brewing was a college student at UC Berkeley and mentioned Roaring Rock to her father, who put trademark attorneys into action.)

After a legal battle in Federal District Court, Roaring Rock owners  John and Reid Martin lost their case and had to come up with a new name. They ultimately settled on Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse, which honored the three regular beers served at the time: Pinnacle Pale Ale, Red Rock Ale and Black Rock Porter.

Located at 1920 Shattuck, the beers at Triple Rock are varied, but tend to be hoppy, California ales.

On my first visit, I started with a pint of Ipax Ale (6.7 A.B.V.), a West Coast IPA bursting with intense, floral aroma. It’s one of Triple Rock’s house ales, hopped with whole flower Simcoe, and is a really fine beer.

Next up, I got a sampler of three different beers, which were all seasonal brews at Triple Rock.

The Black N Blue (5.1 A.B.V.) is a foreign-style stout brewed with blueberry extract. I found the fruit flavor to be subtle, and the beer had a lingering sweetness and a hint of smoke. It went down smooth.

The Hop Soup (9.3 A.B.V.), brewed with Pacific Northwest hops, had a nice citrus flavor but was a bit hot for my taste.

Meanwhile, the Hopfensuppe (8.5 A.B.V.), a double IPA made with German hops and Munich malts, was a bomb of piny and citrus hop aroma and flavor. It was wonderful and my favorite beer at Triple Rock. When I returned the next night, this is what I drank. I hope the Hopfensuppe gets added to Triple Rock’s list of house beers.

The staff at Triple Rock is well-educated on beers, and the food is great. I had a Philly Cheesesteak with fries, which was tasty.

The atmosphere is very laid-back. If I lived in the Bay Area, this would be one of my haunts.

Triple Rock Brewery - Inside the pubA view inside the Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse.

Triple Rock Brewery - samplerSampling some beers.

Triple Rock Brewery - brewing gearThis is where they make the beer.

Triple Rock Brewery - barThe bar at the Triple Rock Brewery.

NEXT: In Part 2, of the Bay Area beer tour, we head to Jupiter.

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