A lot more than 21st Amendment’s Brewery is launching in San Leandro

21st Amendment’s Shaun O’Sullivan and Nico Freccia cheer
the opening of their new brewery

Honestly, from the outside it doesn’t look like much.  21st Amendment’s new brewery in San Leandro is one of the most forgettable, drab buildings in a dusty industrial region full of them A pair of white grain silos is the only outside evidence beer is brewed within.  Located just south of the Oakland Airport in non-descript San Leandro, the place once housed a Kellogg factory pumping out boxes of Pop-Tarts and Raisin Bran for years until closing in 1997. After that, it was used periodically for warehouse space. That’s until 21st Amendment came by and decided this was the place they’d locate their main production brewery as part of their expansion plans, and on June 11, 2015 they dedicated the new brewery with a big ribbon cutting ceremony.

San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter gave a speech, as did brewery co-founders Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan.  Then, hoisting over-sized scissors and posing for the cameras, Freccia and O’Sullivan cut the ceremonial ribbon to hearty cheers and loud toasts with multicolored cans of 21st Amendment favorites “Brew Free or Die”, “Down to Earth” and “Watermelon Wheat” held high in the air.

San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter says a few words

Speeches at events like these are often cliche’d and forgettable. That wasn’t the case here. Shaun and Nico talked how pre-Prohibition breweries were hubs of social and cultural life in San Francisco until Prohibition wiped that out.  To signify their goal of creating a brewery that would become part of the community structure as those early breweries were, they named their brewery after the Constitutional Amendment that effectively repealed prohibition, the 21st.  And indeed, the 21st Amendment Brewpub achieved this goal in San Francisco for the nearly two decades of its existence.  Now they’re considerably raising these stakes with their second and much larger brewery in San Leandro, where brewing beer is just part of the plan.

Not only will 21st Amendment eventually brew 75,000 barrels annually at this facility, they’ll open both a tap room, a restaurant, and even a community meeting center.  Plenty of breweries have drawn people into industrial spaces they would never otherwise venture into for pints of well crafted beer, including Drake’s Brewing, located just a block away in San Leandro.  21st Amendment’s ambitious plans greatly eclipse this tried and true “brewery and a tap room” model.

Needless to say, San Leandro public officials were far more excited about the potential of 21st Amendment’s brewery than they would be for the opening of a dry wall warehouse.  I struck up a conversation with San Leandro Vice Mayor Jim Prola who couldn’t contain his enthusiasm for how he felt this brewery would support an ongoing San Leandro waterfront development and the prospect 21st Amendment supporting of local charities and non-profits with “pint nights”, as Drake’s already does.  Of course, he must also like all the jobs and tax dollars the brewery will generate.

Can 21st Amendment successfully create an even bigger community meeting place in this tired looking industrial park than they did in cosmopolitan San Francisco?   It’s very possible their grand dreams may not be fully realized.   But I’ll say this:  Beer has long been proven as a powerful social force.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures from the festivities.

From the outside, the brewery has a rather drab and unexciting look

In the not too distant future, this will be a tap room
Some impressive looking brewing equipment

Brewmaster Shaun O’Sullivan showing off the new
brewery to guests

Ditto
More of the same

A maze of metal

More shiny, brand spanking new brewing equipment

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ramblingsofabeerrunner

Writing about beer from the California's Silicon Valley.

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