21st Amendment Brewing Gives It to San Leandro in the Can

Did you know that Nico Freccia and Shaun O'Sullivan, the co-founders of 21st Amendment Brewing, like it in the can? It’s true. I’m not spreading rumors here; they’ve said it themselves hundreds of times. Hell, I like it in the can, too. With their new 95,000-square-foot brewery in San Leandro, they’re going to be able to put a whole lot more beer in their trademark cans and get it to us thirsty Bay Area drinkers while it’s super fresh!

Freccia, O'Sullivan, friends, media, local pols, and folks involved in the design and build-out of the massive new production brewery and taproom were on hand last Thursday, June 11 for a ribbon cutting ceremony and tour. 21st Amendment joins Drake’s Brewing and Cleophus Quealy in San Leandro in what is rapidly becoming the go-to spot in the Bay Area for big production breweries. And when I say “big,” I really mean it.

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The new 21A spot is massive. They’re opening up with the ability to put out about 75,000 barrels of beer per year (a barrel is 31 gallons), but they have the ability to expand and add fermenters such that they could crank out something in the neighborhood of 300,000 barrels per year! Their German-designed and US-built brewhouse is a 100-barrel unit, and they’ve got lots of 500 barrel fermenters waiting to be filled with Brew Free Or Die IPAHell Or High Watermelon, Down to Earth Session IPA, and Back In Black IPA, among others. They’ve also installed a state-of-the-art, Rube Goldberg-esque canning line that can can cans a whole lot faster than you can teach a toucan to do the cancan.

All of this sexy stainless steel is right next to the area where they currently have a small bar and tasting room, but which will eventually house a bar and-full service restaurant. There are plans for several floating bars throughout the brewery and a large beer garden out back. Essentially, 21A has now finished building everything they need for brewing and will finish the rest of the build over the next year or so. There are rumors from a very good source that a barrel program is on the to-do list. 21A will be announcing a soft opening of the taproom in the near future, so keep your ears open.

Will the fancy new brewing system change the character of these Bay Area classics? Nope. The only difference is that the beer will be fresher than the beer they’d previously been “partner brewing” in the Midwest, so if you liked it before, you’re going to like it even more now. I got to taste their first brew on the new system. Based on their Brew Free Or Die IPA recipe, they called it Batch 0001. All I know is that if their first brew was that freakin’ good, I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!

Chris Cohen is a Certified Cicerone, a certified BJCP beer judge, founder of the SF Homebrewers Guild, and author of the Beer Scholar Study Guide for the Certified Cicerone Exam. He is opening a bar, Old Devil Moon, in Bernal Heights in late 2015. 

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