Father’s Day is Sunday and if you’re looking for the perfect gift to give your dear papa, we have an idea for you: Curate a selection of East Bay-made brews. With so many great beers to choose from, we tapped 8 experts for this father-focused beery gift guide: brewers who are dads. Along with a beer recommendation, each brewer offers a bit of advice for other dads, especially ones new to fatherhood.
All of the featured breweries and taprooms are open for curbside pickup, so splurge on the dad you’re celebrating by picking up a few of these beers — in cans, growlers or crowlers — straight from the source.
Ocean View Brew Works
The dad: Scott Davidson, owner and head brewer of Albany nanobrewery Ocean View Brew Works, loves fishing and sailing on the bay with his two children. In fact, it’s his absolute favorite thing about being a dad. (“We almost caught a halibut last time,” he recalled.)
The brew: Picnic Pilsner
Where to get it: Ocean View Brew Works, 627 San Pablo Ave. (between Garfield and Portland Avenue), Albany
Why your pops will love it: This well-balanced, German-style pilsner offers a nice bitter finish from German noble hops, but keeps things crisp on the forefront. And at 5.4% ABV, it’s made for easy sipping.
Fatherly advice: “Get outdoors with your children in any form you can!” said Davidson. “Also, when you ask your kids a question, or give directions, wait about 30 seconds and they almost always respond.”
Gilman Brewing Company
The dad: Gilman Brewing co-founder and brewer Sean Wells wholeheartedly believes the best thing about being a dad is watching his 2 1/2-year-old son develop and process new information every single day. Plus, teaching him cool phrases is a close second. “[T]he changes on a day-to-day basis can be incredible. It’s also super fun getting to teach him to read stuff, and like how to say ‘Come at me bro,’ or give a proper high-five,” Wells said.
The brew: W. Berkeley Pils
Where to get it: Gilman Brewing Company, 912 Gilman St. (between Seventh and Eighth Street), Berkeley
Why your pops will love it: A brand new release, the W. Berkeley Pils is Wells’ current favorite because of its low ABV (“So you can enjoy a few and still keep the kids away from the knife drawer”) and its crisp, dry finish with a softened bitter bite. It’s a great homage to a classic German-style pilsner.
Fatherly advice: “Always bring more diapers and changes of clothes with you than you think you need,” said Wells. “It’s amazing how much destruction a little, tiny human can wreak on himself and his surroundings in a short period of time.”
The dad: When Morgan Cox is not running his brewery-taproom in Oakland’s Jingletown neighborhood, the Ale Industries co-founder and brewer looks forward to spending quality time with his kids. “My favorite thing about being a dad is having a couple sidekicks for adventures,” he said. “The reason I enjoy that is because they remind me what it is like to look at the world from a more curious perspective.”
The brew: Golden State of Mind California tea beer
Where to get it: Ale Industries, 3096 E 10th St., (between Fruitvale and Derby avenues), Oakland
Why your pops will love it: Brewed entirely without hops (What?!), Golden State of Mind has an incredible citrus and spice flavor and aroma thanks to the coriander, chamomile and sweet orange peel used in lieu of hops. This California tea beer is light, refreshing and pairs well with a range of food, including barbecue.
Fatherly advice: “The best fatherly advice I have to give is to keep trying. It is super rare to get something right the first time,” Cox said.
East Brother Beer Co.
The dad: When you ask East Brother’s head brewer Paul Liszewski the best thing about being a dad, he paints a heart-melting scene: “As soon as I walk in the door my daughter stops whatever she is doing, yells ‘Daddy!’ and runs over to give me a hug. Once in my arms she asks, ‘Daddy make beer today?’ In that moment, I remember the most important and cherished things in my life: my family and beer.”
The brew: Bo Pils
Where to get it: East Brother Beer Co., 1001 Canal Blvd. (between S 10th and S 12th streets), Richmond
Why your pops will love it: Like any good pilsner, the Bo Pils is light, crisp and refreshing with a nice malt and a hint of spice and lemon from its hops. It drinks well with practically any meal, but the pièce de résistance is its low ABV, which, according to Liszewski, makes it possible to keep up with perambulating toddlers.
Fatherly advice: When it comes to pieces of advice, Liszewski has quite a few, especially for those new dads out there.
1. Find a good, kid-friendly local spot with a great beer list.
2. Koozies will keep your beer cold for extended periods of time.
3. Slowly open any toddler-delivered beer — they love shaking cans.
4. Enjoy the special moments. Just when you think you’ve had enough, your kid will do something so outrageously adorable you will forget the challenges.
Old Kan Beer & Co.
The dad: Despite everything that’s happening in the world today, Old Kan co-owner and brewer Adam Lamoreaux said that he is most impressed by how his kids are facing the immense challenges befalling them. “Whether it is climate change, human rights, COVID-19 or racial justice and equity, these kids are clearly more prepared and motivated to create the change we all seek,” he said proudly.
The brew: Old Kan Classic California Common Lager
Where to get it: (Note: Old Kan Beer has been closed since March 15, but will be reopened by this weekend. Lamoreaux said they’ll start with filling growlers, but hope to have cans available by July 4 weekend). Old Kan Beer & Co., 95 Linden St. (at Third Street), Oakland
Why your pops will love it: While Lamoreaux admits that all of Old Kan’s beer are super approachable, his favorite of the moment is its California Common Lager (Old Kan’s take on a steam beer), an easy-to-drink brew with malty, hoppy and yeasty notes.
Fatherly advice: “The only fatherly advice I think I’d be qualified to give is to not let your work distract you from what is most important,” Lamoreaux said. “Our kids were very young when we started Linden Street, and I spent way too much time and energy focused on the business when I should have been savoring the moments with them that we never get back.”
Mare Island Brewing Co.
The dad: Ryan Gibbons, co-founder of Vallejo’s Mare Island Brewing Co., thinks the best part about being a dad is witnessing the unrivaled sense of joy and wonderment through his two sons’ eyes, as well as the experience of shaping them to be the next, great generation. That, and being able to share the responsibility with his phenomenal wife. “To be able to run a successful brewery and raise two boys takes a great partner, and I really lucked out,” he said.
The brew: Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo (MGV) Mexican lager
Where to get it: Mare Island Brewing Co., Ferry Taproom, 289 Mare Island Way, Vallejo
Why your pops will love it: Light, crisp and with a hint of sweetness from flaked corn (a traditional ingredient in Mexican-style lagers), the MGV is a super quaffable beer. Plus, according to Gibbons, the lager’s namesake was a certified badass. General Vallejo (for whom the city is named) spoke four languages, held most of the North Bay under the Mexican Land Grant, served in the state senate and had 16 children with his wife Francisca Benicia Carrillo (yep, Benicia was named after her).
Fatherly advice: “[Some] advice to give, and constantly remind myself of as well, is that there is time for work later. The time to be with and raise your kids is now,” said Gibbons. “Being a father and role model for your kids is the most important job you can ever have and it all starts with being present.”
Danville Brewing Co., Danville
The dad: Head brewer Matt Sager said being a stay-at-home dad for the first three years of his daughter’s life were some of the most cherished years of his life. And now that she’s a bit older, “Watching my daughter grow into a creative, caring and curious young woman” is his new favorite Dad moment.
The brew: Danville IPA
Where to get it: Danville Brewing Co., 200 Railroad Ave., Suite A (near W Prospect Avenue), Danville
Why your pops will love it: Sager’s personal favorite, the Danville IPA is all about balance. Its toasty bread notes and light toffee-like maltiness set the stage for hops, which add hints of orange marmalade, peach and mango with a touch of pine.
Fatherly advice: “Be accessible to your kiddo! Don’t take their childhood for granted, because it’s gone in a flash!” Sager said, before adding, “Never promise something you can’t provide or threaten a punishment you’re not prepared to follow through on.”
Shadow Puppet Brewing Company
The dad: For Brian Blackburn, founder of Shadow Puppet, getting feedback from his two daughters about the company was a no-brainer. After all, his oldest daughter, Bailey (11), is the one who came up with the brewery’s name when she was just six years old. Plus, the two girls also had the idea for the taproom’s Kidz Korner. “I love having my two daughters involved in the creation of Shadow Puppet Brewing Company and the family-friendly vibe we aim to create here,” Blackburn said.
The brew: Lush Nectar hazy IPA
Where to get it: Shadow Puppet Brewing Company, 4771 Arroyo Vista Way, Suite B (at Bennett Drive), Livermore
Why your pops will love it: Super smooth with a nice haze, this IPA is low in bitterness and has loads of juicy citrus notes, including mandarin, lemon and lime.
Fatherly advice: “You’re not expected to know everything, so don’t stress out too much when you realize you don’t,” said Blackburn. “Leverage other parents in your social circle that are at a similar parenting stage as you. Sharing similar situations and anecdotes can be incredibly helpful and reassuring.”