Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Buffalo Bill's Brewing In Hayward, California

I picked up my grain and now it was time to stop and quench my thirst from the long drive.

Photojournalist and brewing entrepreneur, Bill Owens opened
Buffalo Bill's Brewery in the early 80's as one of the pioneers of the brewpub movement in California. I had a chance to swing by on my way back from Woodland where I was picking up grains from Certified Foods, Inc. for myself and some of the other Zymurgeek members. Buffalo Bills is located in the downtown part of Hayward, California. It's an old building with a lot of charm and the bar section has a hardwood floor that runs the length of the bar. A very comfortable and relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy a good ale.

I ordered a sampler platter of the beers on tap and spent some time working my way through them from light to dark beginning with an American lager followed by an American wheat, pale ale, red ale and ending with an oatmeal stout.

I need a moment here to say that I have a problem with brewpubs that serve their wheat beer with a slice of lemon. In a sense, the practice is really about homogenizing a product, catering to mass appeal because of market driven imagery which I believe marginalizes the seriousness of a quality and well crafted beer. I want to taste and appreciate the characters that should be evident with an American wheat beer! Having said that, I don't particularly like American wheat to begin with but introducing overpowering flavors to my glass of beer just tells me that the beer can't stand on its own without it. Sorry, I had to get that off my mind. In my personal opinion; adding fruit wedges reflects badly on a serious brewing establishment.

Moving on, my favorite from the grouping was the pale ale, which they call the Tasmanian and I ended up ordering a pint to enjoy with my lunch. Very refreshing with a good malt/hop balance if not slightly on the sweet side.

The Stout has an up front coffee/coco powder flavor with a dry finish and subtle hop flavor, a nice beer.

Three different bottled beers are displayed in cases, decorating the corners of the expansive room. These include Orange Blossom cream ale, Blueberry oatmeal stout and their famous Pumpkin ale. Buffalo Bills is a pretty small place and I asked the barkeep about the bottled beers. He said that they are beers that are contract brewed by Pyramid Brewing. I order the cream ale out of curiosity (not of big fan of the fruit flavored beers, kind of a traditionalist if you haven't noticed) because it is hard to come by a cream ale around here. Unfortunately, the orange blossom flavor overpowers this beer in a relentless way.

I finished up my Tasmanian Devil and headed out into the hot California sun and made my way back down the 880 for Santa Cruz. With 150 pounds of fresh malted grain, it's time to get brewing.

Have you been to this brew pub? Leave a comment.


Sean T. McBeth said...

RE: fruit wedges in the beer.

I do not for a second assume beer is sacred. I don't ever want the beer market to end up in the full-on snobbery of the wine market. You shouldn't have to worry about how you're consuming your beer, "am I doing it right?" It's beer, if it's going in your stomach you're doing it right.

Sometimes, I mix beers. I'll take a lager and mix it with a scotch ale or a heavy stout. Sometimes, I'm just not in the mood for the overpowering nature of such heavy beers. Mixing the beer creates amazing flavors that no wine enthusiast will ever find because of their fear of nonconformity.

The only beer I do not have time for are the macro-produce rice beers, and that has more to do with wanting to support local business than it does with anything about their beer. Every beer, barring spoiled junk, has its place in the market. It can't be 11% barleywines at $10 a bottle all the time, sometimes you all you need a $1 pint of gimme-a-buzz.

Anonymous said...

I used to live down the way from Buffalo Bills. Loved to go in for an early dinner and a pint. And I really like the building its in, however Hayward is a little to be desired.
I am trying to find someone with a descent Tasmanian Devil Clone. I think I have figured it out but its been awhile since I was there and dont live neat the brewpub anymore. If anyone can help that would be great

Beer Diary... said...

Hi Pete,
I wish I could help you but even after some beer forum searches I came up empty. I wish you luck in finding that recipe and thanks for visiting Beer Diary...

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