I have to confess that, until our trip to the East Bay area (we stayed in Dublin, CA), all I knew about Altamont Beer Works was that they had recently collaborated with Boneyard Beer on – what else? – a big IPA called “Lupulin Advisory”. (Altamont brewmaster/owner Stephen Sartori actually worked at Boneyard, for a time)
I had gone into San Leandro and Oakland on my first day in the area and was a tad horrified by the volume of traffic on pretty much all of the Bay Area’s primary arteries. Seattle traffic is bad, of course, and Tacoma traffic is irrationally awful, for a town of just over 200K. But in either of those places, people are generally not going 85 to 90 MPH and changing lanes without signals and parking on my bumper for miles on end because I have the gall to do the posted speed, preventing them from plowing ahead without impediment in what they seem to regard as THEIR lane. We had a long and fairly stressful drive down from Tacoma, finished off by a warp-speed rampage through Sonoma’s best wineries, and then used our one mutual off-day to do MORE driving, so I was tired. I resolved to stay on the east side of those hills that separate East Bay from Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore. Find a nice nearby place to eat. Have a freakin’ bear or glass of wine. Bleed off some steam. And I found them on a google map search of “breweries+Livermore”. We jetted out there on our first night in Dublin, BADLY in need of a beer. I did get a can of Lupulin Advisory, (wasn’t on tap, sadly) which remains sealed until I can catch my breath, but what we tasted was flat-damned illuminating.
If there are any two breweries that are aesthetically joined at the hip, it’s Boneyard and Alatamont. A visit to Boneyard is a Master Class in the contemporary American IPA. DITTO for Altamont. We did a flight of all their IPA offerings plus a DELICIOUS infused Stout called “Nutty Operator”, a classic, murky Oatmeal Stout, booted up with peanut butter and massive amounts of chocolate malts. Judye went a tad berserk for this stuff and I did, too, but was so wrapped up in the IPA Madness that I skipped having a pint of it. Damnit.
The IPAs were ALL exceptional: “Maui Wowi”, “Hella Hoppy” IIPA, “Dank Row”, “Shot Away”, and the GLORIOUS “Juice Above The Clouds” DIPA, a vivid, floral, resiny miracle that recalls Ninkasi “Tricerahops” – and that’s one of the highest compliments I can hand out. There was mercifully little of the NEIPA forced cloudiness. There was light filtering and a very light haze on several but these are clean, crisp, ungratuitous, near-perfect, thoughtful, classy ales that more than justify the Boneyard comparisons. (I even got a tad crazy and left with a t-shirt.) The can of “Lupulin Advisory” sits in my fridge, softly wooing me…(NOTE: I have now consumer this beer. The word that comes to mind is one I cheerfully detest but which is accurate here: AWESOME!)
What I can tell you now is that if you’re a SERIOUS beer fan and visiting NorCal, you do NOT just hit Almanac and 21st Amendment and Cellarmaker and Rare Barrel and Anchor. You PLAN a day to drive out I-580, through the pass between Hayward and Dublin, head out to Vasco Road in eastern Livermore, just across from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, park your butt on a stool at Altamont and prepare to be seriously, Bend-scale WOWED.