OAKLAND — If brewing beer can be likened to any other artform, then playing and composing music is an apt comparison.
For Aram Cretan and Matt Hunter, who met each other in junior high band and went on to open Federation Brewing in the Jack London Square district of Oakland this past February, the transition from childhood bandmates to brewery owners makes complete sense.
The two — along with Cretan’s father, Larry Cretan — bring Federation into a neighborhood well-established in the local beer world. The brewery joins Beer Revolution, Independent Brewing and The Trappist within a short jaunt away, and the new Original Pattern and Oakland United breweries coming to the area shortly.
Visitors in search of high quality beer brewed in small batches won’t find a list of “extra” beers boasting shelves of fruit peels or exotic spices — although Federation’s experiments with a barrel-aged sour stout and brett-soured Syrah-barrel-aged blonde ales will not disappoint.
Federation’s goal in brewing is not to create those types of beers that the latest hype dicates; rather, Hunter says the brewery likes to focus on quality beers that people will always come back to and enjoy.
“We were really focusing on some good examples of classic beer styles,” Hunter said. “In the beginning we wanted to make a really light blonde ale that is super drinkable. It was one of the first ones we made and it was just something that people that are used to drinking American lagers would like.”
Their best-seller, their “Behind You!” blonde ale drinks like a pilsner, but with more crisp and fresh notes from the clean ale yeast. Extremely refreshing and loaded with complex notes from the married flavors of lager and ale, at a flat 5 percent alcohol it’s a beer that can easily quench any beer drinker.
Among their regular offerings is their Low Boy Oatmeal Stout, a roasty caramel and coffee flavor conjuring beer served on nitro as well. Beyond being just the right amount of sweet and toasty, this is the sort of beer that would be perfect for a beer float.
Those with a hoppy preference can find solace in Federation’s In the Weeds IPA. A 76 IBU and 6 percent alcohol IPA, this is not your traditional West Coast hop bomb or trending murky beer. Blending elements from a hoppy American pale ale and the maltiness of an English IPA, In the Weeds boasts a palatable bready and malty backbone with a ton of aroma from the dry-hopped Citra, landing in the upper-hoppiness of IPA-land, but well-balanced in aftertaste for another gulp.
As Federation moves through their first year, Hunter says the brewery plans to expand their brewing next-door and up production, which potentially will have Federation’s beers become more available around Bay Area taprooms.
In the meantime, visitors can pop into their brewery for a slew of different weekly events: from Pints to Pledge on Wednesday nights that donates $1 from each pint sold to benefit a local nonprofit, to local food popups on Saturday nights, and scheduled band performances.