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5 Bites: Suds and Savory Sausage in Oakland and Berkeley

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Chipotle Chicken Sausage
Chipotle Chicken Sausage

Whether you're in the mood for knackwürste or merguez, there's now a whole range of establishments where you can indulge in the sizzling sausage and burgeoning craft beer scene in the East Bay. Let us know your favorites in the comments.

Housed in a former laundromat, you'll find that the suds now being served up at Hog's Apothecary are of the tasty hoppy variety. With long, wooden communal tables and an expansive bar filling up the large, airy space, proprietors Bradford Earle and John Streit run their American-style beer hall under the motto of where "locavore meets locapour." 38 taps of Californian beer and wines flow from the wall behind the bar and pair well with the diverse array of seasonal dishes prepared with locally-sourced ingredients.

Chef Streit was on the premises, busy expediting the entrees emerging from the kitchen for his patrons. You won't find the usual buffalo chicken wings and nachos bar fare on his whimsical menu, which includes such starters as, "Fries with Eyes," deep-fried Eureka smelt with green garlic aioli, and "Chokes & Favas," marinated artichokes piled on a barley salad with fresh favas, ricotta salata, black olives and a schmaltz-fried egg. The fruity triple IPA, "Dank Statement," from the San Francisco-based Cellarmaker Brewing Company and Sierra Nevada's "Southern Hemisphere" fresh hop IPA are a fine match to these rich appetizers. Prep your palate with the Bay Laurel sour beer from Craftsman Brewing, which has a sparkly champagne taste with an unusual finish reminiscent of cured meats -- specifically salami. Then you'll be ready to move on to the housemade sausage sandwiches like the "Istanbul not Constantinople," a Middle-Eastern spiced pork sausage with charred nettles and "Amargallego," a pork-and-chicken sausage topped with salsa brava, crispy potatoes and Calabrian chile, nestled between pillowy-soft buns with a side of pickled vegetables.

Even if you ate the entire giant pile of lard-fried Kennebec potato chips that accompanied your sausages, try and make room for their noteworthy peach and pretzel fritters with creme anglaise. My husband and I shared this decadent dessert with one of our table mates, Lauri, a devoted regular of the bar. Both the Old Stock Ale, a barleywine from Ft. Bragg's North Coast Brewing Company and "Carlo's Stout", an imperial stout from Alameda's Faction Brewing, are excellent beers to wash down your sugary treat. By the end of your meal, you'll more than likely be sharing the sentiments shown on the sign around the neck of Theo, the towering carved wooden sculpture of a dancing pig perched on a counter: "This beer is making me awesome." Stay tuned for further developments as brunch and outdoor seating are in the works.


Hog’s Apothecary
375 40th St. [Map]
Oakland, CA 94609
Ph: (510) 338-3847
Hours: Everyday from 5pm-12am, closed on Tuesdays
Facebook: The Hog's Apothecary
Twitter: @HogsApothecary
Price range: Entrees ($11-$17)

2121 San Pablo Ave. [Map]
Berkeley, CA 94702
Ph: (510) 647-5016
Hours: Tue-Sun 11:30am-9pm; Fri-Sat open 11:30am-10pm
Lunch 11:30am-2pm; Afternoon Menu 2-5:30pm; Dinner starting 5:30pm
Weekend Brunch 11:30am-2:30pm; Happy Hour Tue-Fri 2-5:30pm
Facebook: Gaumenkitzel
Twitter: @gaumenkitzel
Price range: Entrees ($11-$17)

If you're looking for an alternative to Alameda-based Speisekammer, head over to Berkeley for a uniquely Bay Area take on German cuisine. Hamburg ex-pats, the husband-and-wife team Kai Flache and Chef Anja Voth, have recreated their childhood favorites with an all-natural approach. Eschewing artificial additives, canned or processed ingredients, even microwaves and deep fryers, this solar-powered restaurant prides itself on preparing everything from scratch -- including yogurt and bread. They also serve sustainably raised fish and meat and use locally grown, organic produce.

Along with offering the largest German beer selection in the Bay Area, they also have plenty of sausage options available on their menu. A substantial starter is their platter of liver sausage and tangy north German butter cheese that comes with a small mixed green salad and orange-honey dressing, grated carrot-thyme salad, roasted beets, pickles and their housebaked Gaumenkitzel whole wheat bread with fresh unsalted butter. Or you could opt for a sausage plate and choose from three Nürnberger bratwürste sausages, two wiener knackwürste or one Bavarian white sausage with their housemade potato salad accented with dill. A delicious variation on the classic American combo of mac-and-cheese with hot dogs is the delicatessen wiener knackwürste on spätzle dish. This German gnocchi-like pasta is dressed in a housemade mustard and sharp cheddar sauce with slices of wiener knackwürste .

An easy way to sample their draft beers is through their tasting menu that's served on a map of Germany that indicates their region of origin, or just flip through their sizable beer menu to peruse their collection of bottled beers like the Schönramer Saphir Bock, a bright, 8% ABV ale with fruity notes. Or try one of their exclusive imports, the Grevensteiner Kellerbier (cellar beer) that's an unfiltered, unpasteurized 5.2% ABV pilsner that's reminiscent of caramel and honey. You can also get bottles to go; check out their small shop that's stocked with beer, wine, jams, chocolate and other German foodstuffs.

In the former space of the now departed Mama Buzz coffeehouse, Telegraph is a popular destination with locals in search of reasonably priced comfort food in an urban beer garden setting. Two spacious patios (one indoors) furnished with wooden picnic tables and an eclectic collection of local art -- including a "Lost Sloth" mural and pop-up shop by Oakland artist J. Otto Seibold -- can accommodate lots of customers.

There's an assortment of appetizing housemade sausages offered daily. Two recent specials included the beer brat and chipotle chicken on fresh hoagie buns topped with jalapeño-cilantro slaw and mayo served with a side of potato chips. Other sandwiches, burgers and breakfast items are also available if you're hankering for other options. There's no shortage of beverages either; they've got a variety of local and regional draft and bottled beers -- including Oakland's Line 51 Brewing's Imperial India Pale Ale -- soda, coffee and Temescal kombucha made by Arbor Cafe.

2318 Telegraph Ave.[Map]
Oakland, CA 94612
Ph: (510) 444-8353
Hours: Mon 4pm-12am; Tue-Thu 11-12am; Fri-Sat 11-2am; Sun 11-12am
Facebook: TelegraphOAK
Twitter: @TelegraphOAK
Price range: $$ Entrees ($11-$17)

The veteran venue on the list, Chuck Stilphen and Aaron Porter's Belgian-style pub has been pouring brews in the Old Oakland neighborhood for over 8 years. While The Trappist doesn't carry the substantial assortment of housemade sausages as Stilphen's recently opened Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco, they do have two transplants from that establishment: a plump, juicy bratwurst poached in Sculpin IPA with a potato hash and the delectable pastrami sandwich with Gruyère, housemade sauerkraut and dressing on rye. (And it seems he'll be launching a sausage company that bears the same name in the near future with Trappist chef Michael O’Brien.) Along with cheese plates and charcuterie, O'Brien cooks up some creative concotions like "Green Eggs & Eggs" made with soft-boiled eggs, wasabi, tobiko, Japanese mayonnaise and habanero oil. There's also some alcohol-infused desserts, like the imperial stout chocolate mousse with roasted hazelnuts and whipped cream.

Customers can unwind in the Old World brick-and-wood ambience of the front or back bars or relax in their outdoors back patio. The Dutch Trappist beer, La Trappe Quadrupel, hails from De Koningshoeven Brewery and packs a sugary punch at 10% ABV. And it's no surprise to find more offerings from Mikkeller, the Danish brewery that's partnered with Stilphen's aforementioned city venture. Mikkeller Big Worse Barleywine is a sweet, honey-like tonic while the crisp, light Belgian Saison Dupont is a refreshing summer beer. Stop by their College Avenue shop if you want to take home any rare imported brews.

The Trappist Beer Cafe
460 8th St. [Map]
Oakland, CA 94607
Ph: (510) 238-8900
Hours: Everyday 12pm-12am; Fri-Sat 12pm-1am
Facebook: The Trappist's Insider Page
Twitter: @TheTrappist
Price range: $$ Entrees ($11-$17)

Brotzeit Lokal
1000 Embarcadero [Map]
Oakland, CA 94606
Ph: (510) 645-1905
Hours: Tue-Thu 11:30am-11pm (kitchen closes at 9:30pm); Fri 11:30am-12pm (kitchen closes at 10pm); Sat 10am-12pm (kitchen closes at 10pm); Sun 10am-9:30pm (kitchen closes at 9pm)
Facebook: Brozeit Lokal
Twitter: @Brotzeit_Lokal
Price range: $$ Entrees ($11-$17)

Looking for a scenic spot to enjoy beer and sausage? Just past Jack London Square off of the Embarcadero, Chop Bar's Lev Delany has created a waterfront oasis that's perfect for large crowds in fine weather. Brotzeit's kitchen utilizes whole animal butchery in preparing their sausages and burgers, and all of their sauerkraut, sauces, pickles and mustards are also housemade. Share the käsespätzle, a creamy baked version of the German noodle dish with Gruyère cheese sauce, for a filling starter. Then move onto their Brotzeit platter -- choose from one or two sausages from their lengthy list -- with sauerkraut, green beans, radishes and a "Bretzel". You can also order a more substantial helping to feed a hungry group; the larger entree can feed between 6-8 people. While the meat-to-bun ratio is slightly unbalanced with their lamb merguez wurst sandwich, it's still a palatable option with sauerkraut, pickled red onions and jalapeño.


Brozeit Lokal has a rotating menu of German, Belgian and Californian craft beers; if you're feeling extra thirsty, go for a liter of Kolsch or a two-liter boot while you enjoy the view of the Brooklyn Basin.

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