Downtown Oakland leads the soul revolution with beer and vegan BBQ

In just a few months, Beer Revolution has become an essential East Bay beer destination. It’s also a place where Bay Area brewers show up to show off their beer. Last week’s featured brewer was Steve Altimari of Valley Brewing in Stockton. Valley makes a wide range of tasty beers, including a hoppy IPA and a very hoppy Uberhoppy. Valley’s London Tavern Ale, a 4.8% abv English-style mild ale, won the silver medal at this year’s World Beer Cup. Altimari, pictured with Arne Johnson of Marin Brewing, also brews some delicious strong beer, and Beer Revolution recently featured Valley’s Decadent Darkness, a potent (over 10% abv) blend of Valley’s barrel aged Imperial Stout, Old Inventory Barley Wine and its standard Black Cat Foreign Stout. As an extra treat, Altimari brought a big bottle filled with his Effin Guud, which he described as a 4-year-old American strong ale.
The potent beers featured at Beer Revolution would overwhelm a lot of foods. Fortunately, the vegan soul food at Souley Vegan, located right next door, has the toothsome substance to hold its own. Although you won’t find any meat on Souley’s menu, you probably won’t miss it when you tuck into the BBQ tofu and creamy mac ‘n cheese (pictured), red beans and rice, and fried okra.
The serious beer-drinking countries in Europe have been matching beer with food for centuries. Mussels and frites with Belgian ale, lagers with schnitzel, and fish and chips with English ale are classic combinations. American beer is based on European beer styles, but American brewers put their own twist on traditional recipes to create unique brews, some of which defy easy categorization. A lot of those experiments are being brewed right here in the Bay Area.
At the same time, the Bay Area is in the midst of a culinary revolution that integrates influences from a variety of cultures – Latin American, Middle Eastern and Asian – as well as classic American dishes like barbecue. The 21st century American culinary insurrection is on full display at 3rd and Broadway, where Souley Vegan and Beer Revolution intersect. You can have a lot of fun matching Souley Vegan’s brightly flavored soul food with American beers like Valley’s Decadent Darkness and Effin Guud, and the 30th anniversary collaboration stout between Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada and Fritz Maytag of Anchor Brewing. Rich, opaque, potent brews are a delicious match with the darkly sweet richness of Souley Vegan’s BBQ tofu and accentuate the cheesiness of its mac ‘n cheese.
With all due respect to Tea Party activists nostalgic for the bygone era of the revered founding fathers, the real revolution is in looking forward and embracing what America can become rather than yearning for what it was when knee breeches and tricorner hats were in style. Beer Revolution and Souley Vegan are at the forefront of our current culinary insurgency, matching American beer with American food. To my mind, enjoying American craft beer and soul food on the sunny patio at Beer Revolution is a more patriotic and infinitely more enjoyable way to honor our country’s history over the Memorial Day weekend than reliving the Boston Tea Party.

Souley Vegan
301 Broadway
(at 3rd St)
Oakland, CA 94607
Neighborhood: Jack London Square
(510) 922-1615

Beer Revolution
464 3rd Street
(between Washington St & Broadway)
Oakland, CA 94607
Neighborhood: Jack London Square
(510) 452-2337

Valley Brewing
157 W Adams St
Stockton, CA 95204
(209) 464-2739

1 comment:

  1. Chuck,
    I love that photo of Steve Altimari and Arne Johnson. It's classic, especially the "finger pointing"!