San Leandro may soon be the premiere beer destination in the Bay Area. Joining Drake’s, a craft brewery and Cleophus Quealy, a newcomer with a knack for Belgian makes, is 21st Amendment’s brand new brew headquarters in the Williams Street Industrial Park. The space, which is five huge acres large, will open to the public this June 26 and in the coming year, will gradually add a restaurant, a floating bar, an event space, and an outdoor recreation area.
Back in January 2013, as co-founder Shaun O’Sullivan told the crowd gathered at the Grand Opening on Wednesday, he and co-founder Nico Freccia had an idea to move all brewing operations to the East Bay. Both O’Sullivan and Freccia were living in the area, and they wanted to give back to the community that helped them grow as a company with a multi-use restaurant and brewery. “In the early days of San Francisco, breweries were a center of community life, and we wanted to regain that social gathering experience,” Freccia says of their plans to build out the space.
“There’s a vibrant arts community here, a vibrant tech community,” he says. “We’re over the moon to be here.”
San Leandro appears happy to have them as well. Garry Offenberg of the Chamber of Commerce stated that, “21st Amendment is a perfect example of how this city is redefining itself,” and Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office presented O’Sullivan and Freccia with a congratulatory certificate. Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter added that the brewery is “that extra little thing San Leandro needs.”
Over the fifteen years that 21st Amendment has been in existence its popularity has so flourished that operations became too large to continue to operate out of the San Francisco brewpub by AT&T Park. For the last six years, they had been brewing in Cold Spring, Minnesota (near St. Cloud), but with the new opening in San Leandro, they’ll finally be able to bring the brewing process home to the Bay.
However, the new space, actually, isn’t all that new after all. As a matter of fact, it’s an old Kellogg’s factory. “This space found us,” O’Sullivan said, while taking a group on tour around the company’s new digs. “It provided skin and the nuts and bolts to make a great brewery.”
The new brewing system is virtually all state of the art, and exponentially increases the amount of output the brewery will now be able to create. The German-created system is hyper-efficient, and will allow them to produce 75,000 barrels of beer in a year. The Brite tanks are so large, in fact, that they had to lower them into the building with cranes licensed by the FAA.
The canning system, as O’Sullivan says, is about as up-to-the-minute as it gets as well. The machine allows them to can 500 beers in a minute, and drain a whole Brite tank in six hours. New Belgium in Fort Collins, Colorado and Sierra Nevada in Chico, California, two huge breweries, have similar machines.
But despite the brewery’s new growth, they’re still minding their roots. “The great thing about brewing is that it’s about the community,” he says before introducing a couple special guests. On the tour is Drake’s Brewing Operator John Martin, who consequently hired O’Sullivan when he was younger, as is Adam Lamoreaux, the owner of Linden Street Brewery, whom O’Sullivan once hired to work at 21st Amendment.
The brewery is already at work on their first in-house batch, “The #0001”, a take on their own Brew Free! Or Die IPA, and though it’s not quite ready yet, you can hope it will be by the time the brewery opens its doors to the public in a couple weeks. More collaborations are on the way too. There were mentions of a Summer collaboration with Cleophus Quealy, and there will certainly be some partnerships with Drake’s to come along soon.
The main bar is already intact in the main foyer of the warehouse, but there’s much more on its way too. O’Sullivan teases that “within a year or so” the space will have a mezzanine level “floating bar” to be called “The Treehouse”, an event space that will feature live music, a fully operational restaurant, and an outdoor area.
Until then, 21st Amendment will invite food trucks to the brewery between noon and 8 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays as soon as they open their doors June 26.
For more information, head to 21st Amendment’s site.
Alyssa Pereira is a music writer, web producer, and pop culture blogger for CBS stations in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Find her on Twitter at Alyssa Pereira