For all the renewed emphasis on flavor profiles that the craft-beer revolution has brought, many of the new generation of breweries can feel like glorified factories. Granted, that’s precisely what they are, but they’re not just nodes of production and distribution; they’re also meant to be places to hang out in. And hanging out in a cavernous zeppelin-hangar with poor acoustics in which the dominant motif is stainless steel can feel monotonous after awhile.
Following a decade of toiling and home-brewing, husband-and-wife team Luke Janson and Hillary Rose Huffard have opened Roses’ Taproom in Temescal. Its fermentation tanks are visible in the back, but the front half of the operation is a completely different animal. Janson and Huffard are creative types, urban farmers with strong connections to the other foodie businesses on the block, like Pizzaiolo.
Roses’ opened over the weekend, playing bossa nova beats and pouring the first three of a planned suite of beers: a California blonde ale, a toasted coconut porter, and an American pale ale. Its walls are painted a sandy peach color, and there are scalloped tiles amid all the potted plants. Some of the art on the walls is beautifully abstract, with one piece depicting geometric shapes that resemble the dreamy “Cone of Obliscence” at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in L.A. In fairness, the neighborhood already has a microbrewery that fits this general description, as Temescal Brewing’s chill interior looks like a graphically advanced bedspread from the early 1990s. Lovely though it is, Temescal Brewing is more of a beer garden where outside food is encouraged, while the all-indoor Roses’ is more of an all-ages gastropub that happens to brew beer.
In the former Shaver and Cutlery Shop — whose existence can be detected in the green awning that Roses’ physically turned around — this “human-scale” microbrewery produces seven barrels of beer at a time, with barely 200 gallons in each batch. Of the three initial offerings, the $7 porter was the most notable: Served with a lime wedge to acidify the coconut’s sweetness, it’s beautifully opaque and nutty. Next on the docket are a Fourth-of-July themed Saison, a Kolsch, and an IPA that’s promised to be “hoppy.”
Food runs heavily to the world of sausage from Duende and bread from nearby Pizzaiolo (plus mustard and Kerrygold butter!). A spreadable sobresada ($7) stands out from all the duck-liver mousses out there, but it’s the cold slices of pork botifarra al ron sausage ($7) made with dried figs, cherries, and rum that really pair nicely with the American pale ale. Combine them into a Ploughman-esque Provisional Lunch with the addition of La Quercia prosciutto and a “ruby kraut” prepared with fish sauce, or just get some mussels in escabeche with pimenton. Anywhere that simple bread-and-butter represents a highly appealing snack option is going to do all right.
Roses’ also has a “Mug Club” designed to entice locals to become regulars. For $30 a month, with a three-month minimum to start, you get your own numbered mug, which was made by a local artisan and lives on a shelf with its buddies. Every beer is $2 off — or $1 off for small pours — and you get a free taste of every new beer, roughly twice each month. If you move far away, suddenly lose all sensation in your taste buds, or experience some other freak life event that would necessitate no longer drinking at Roses’ Taproom, you get to keep the mug.
Sausage and mugs of beer at the place where it’s brewed — it sounds so hypermasculine, yet the composition of the taproom was roughly at gender parity. And as a Rose is a vermouth-and-cherry-liqueur cocktail and rosé is a wine, it’s only fitting that Roses’ would be a good place for a beer.
Roses’ Taproom, 4930 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-520-2192 or rosestaproom.com