Mass transit fans and beer aficionados alike, rejoice. Oakland's newest watering hole combines the best of both those worlds, pouring a selection of on-tap IPAs and ales from the side of a retired and restored AC Transit bus from 1972.
While still working out the mechanical kinks — both literally and metaphorically — of their new 7,500-square-foot Oakland tasting room and brewery, PT Lovern and his wife Leti Lovern, owners of Line 51 Brewing Company, opened the doors to their new bottling space and taproom, The Terminal, in Oakland this past Thursday to glowing reviews. Per SFGate, this weekend’s soft opening includes the usual bar tropes: a litany of positioned widescreen TVs for sports ball watching, large wooden benches to saddle and rest drinks and eats atop of, and a parked food truck slinging sobering bites. But one on-site oddity? The utterly delightful, thoroughly renovated Line 51 AC transit bus where bartenders currently tap the four available brews — Short Dog pale ale, One Inch Punch IPA, Red Death ale and DubNation IPA — from the side of.
It's a fitting parallel for the brand owners and pair of former teachers, who once lugged kegs of beer on the 51 Line in their early days.
"We took the beer on the actual AC transit bus from American Steel Studios [in Oakland], which is where we distributed out of our warehouse," PT Lovern tell SFGate's Dianne de Guzman. "[We would ride] the 14 to the 51, and then we rode down in the 51, with a 15-gallon keg of beer."
Lovern also saw erecting this tubular pub as not only a means to offer tribute to the company’s past and transit ties, but also as a way to preach responsible drinking.
"I only distributed [our kegs] to, at first, [bars within] walking distance from the AC transit line," PT Lovern adds, who he shares 4-year-old twins Valentine and Victor, 2-year-old Viviana, and 18-month-old Vincent with his wife.
"So the idea was if you want it, you should ride the bus; you can walk to it. You're not even going to use your keys."
But, like how they once hauled 15-gallon kegs from bar to bar, opening their Castro Street endeavor has been strenuous.
'[...] We've been in construction for over 18 months," PT Lovern recounts. "It's been an uphill battle, but it's all worth it now cause we have our space that we're so ready to share with everybody, [and] it's pretty much exactly how we want it."
Given the legions of now-converted fans of the brand crowding the space, it's safe to say the taproom and brewery is also "pretty much" what gaggles of Bay Area zythophiles could've ever wanted, as well.
Plans are in place to build a small deli kitchen on the property, which is presumed to open down the road. More brews — which will hopefully include the staple-favorite baltic porter, Panther — are expected to come on tap; it's unclear, though, if they've fully transitioned out of mass-producing their brews at Tied House Brewery in Mountain View.
The 51A and 51B lines in Oakland are two of the most heavily used bus routes in East Bay, shuttling an estimated 19,000 passengers a day to Berkeley, Oakland, and Alameda.
Line 51 Brewing Company is perched at 303 Castro Street in Oakland’s Acorn Industrial neighborhood. As of now, you can swing by Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.; stay up-to-date on current Line 51 happenings and news at line51beer.com
Image: Twitter via @Josh_Hawn