They say “We’re OK!,” but I beg to differ. This place is pretty rad!
Old Kan originally opened its doors under a different name, Linden Street Brewery, in 2009. Co-owner and Brewer Adam Lamoreaux had found this 1890 electrical cable factory (Standard Underground Cable Company) building back in 2005, but they didn’t start brewing beer there until four years later. They were the first production brewery in Oakland since Golden West left in 1959. Props to that!
In 2014, he and his business partner, James Syhabout, decided to open up a restaurant right next door in the same building. A couple years later, Linden Street Brewery had outgrown the brewing space and moved to a different location in Oakland. They rebranded (maybe because “Linden Street Brewery” was a little too geographically tied) and are now known as Oakland United Beerworks. Adam and James decided to stay behind and grow their current businesses (which became one). They also renamed the place in 2017 and called it Old Kan. All caught up on the history?
But why Old Kan? Maybe it’s just that I’m not a resident of Oakland or maybe I’m just slow (Don’t answer that!)… But Old Kan is actually a pretty clever anagram of Oakland! It just so happens that Adam seems to be a fan of old cans as well. See, it all worked out. Oh and notice the “OK” logo. Neat!
“The big thing for me was understanding where craft beer is going,” Adam said. He also said that a lot of breweries have a very rotational beer menu these days that it is not what he wanted to do. “I can appreciate that but I get into another side of beer where it represents where you are from.” He went on to say: “Hopefully people from Oakland drink Old Kan and it’s in people’s refrigerator.” In short, he wants Old Kan to be a staple of Oakland.
Adam said that they’ve had good success doing that and that it is easy to stay in that lane. They have eight beers on tap at a time, and they don’t vary much. It’s a very stable menu with very staple-worthy beer.
They are able to produce about 5,000 barrels a year in this facility, but Adam said they are not even close at the moment. So what’s Old Kan doing these days to expand the business? You guessed it! They are… canning! They just started canning at the beginning of the year. They currently have one flavor available but will be canning their second beer next week. They plan on having three or four of their brews available in cans by the summer. “Before it was all about draft; canning is a chance to expand the brand,” Adam said.
Their most popular beer as of now (and also my favorite) is their California black lager named Old Kan Dark. It smells just like a stout but feels just like a lager. Adam said he talked to Moonlight Brewing Co.s’ founder Brian Hunt extensively about their Death and Taxes for inspiration. Other than that, they also brew a nice rice lager, a bock beer, a California Common lager, a cream ale, a red ale, as well as a porter. Adam said he is really being on using California ingredients for their California brews because he thinks that we somehow need to close the circle in beer production. Why bring in malt from somewhere else when you can purchase it right here? Imagine that!
Adam’s favorite beer? Old Kan Classic! It’s the California Common lager… just in case you are wondering what we are talking about.
“We are trying to be the best thing in West Oakland,” Adam said. “Then we can hopefully be the best thing in Oakland, and then the Bay.”
Oh, and I know this is a beer blog and all, but I must talk about the restaurant. Their food is freakin’ amazing! I had the portobello sandwich and it was absolutely divine. I sat on the taproom side, but the restaurant and taproom communicate and have the same feel to them. Except, the restaurant also has some cool murals from local artists John Casey and Keith “K-Dub” Williams. Nice decor!
I’ll be back…
More photos from Old Kan: