Friday, December 07, 2007


Tonight, Friday December 7th, is the opening night of Oakland, California-based Belgian-themed beer bar THE TRAPPIST, and the kids, as they say, are waaay psyched. You probably will be as well – get a load of this opening night beer list. THE TRAPPIST is the product of many, many months’ planning and hard labor, and obviously many years of hardcore Belgian beer enthusiasm (though a few local and US micros will be served as well). It’s in a fantastic and burgeoning part of “Old Oakland”, right by a BART (subway) station, and having driven by it before it opened, it just flat-out looks cool.

We caught up over email with one of the bar’s two proprietors, Aaron Porter, and asked him a few questions about what looks to be a new home away from home for many Bay Area beer lovers:

HEDONIST BEER JIVE: What led you to open a Belgian-themed beer bar in Oakland, particularly one as ambitious at The Trappist appears to be?

AARON PORTER: We love Oakland! Oakland seemed like the right spot...for practical reasons, but also for beer reasons...there’s a lot of people in the east bay that are fanatical about beer...there’s tons of great places to go...both here in the east bay and in SF, but Oakland is central and easily accessible...The Trappist is located near 3 major freeways, 4 blocks from BART...and close to home. We looked in SF for a space...but nothing seemed quite right...Chuck happened upon our tiny 10’-0” wide space and it just simply felt right. We like the pace of Oakland...we like the people, we like the way things work over here.

HEDONIST BEER JIVE: Have either of you run businesses before, and if so, what are you bringing from those experiences to this one?

AARON PORTER: Chuck has another business he’s been running for 10+ years...he owns and operates rehearsal spaces for bands...Oakland and in Sacramento. He has a tremendous amount of operational experience as well as tons of construction experience. I work in architecture as a self-employed freelancer w/ background in construction. Our combined experience gave us confidence to try and put The Trappist together.

HEDONIST BEER JIVE: Why do you think Oakland and the greater Bay Area will embrace The Trappist right now? Is this a time that’s particularly ripe for such a bar?

AARON PORTER: We think so...there a plenty of great bars that have wonderful beer lists...many that have great Belgian beer lists...but we wanted to create a space that we wanted to be in...a place we would want to go to...a place that reminded us of our favorite bars in Amsterdam and Belgium...both architecturally and in terms of the beer...We are doing the things we appreciate about the places we visit on our trips...these are things you don’t yet see that often here...and we’d love to see it more. We think (and hope) that people will feel the way we do about these things...people that haven’t maybe had a chance to travel the places we’ve been will hopefully get the vibe, a kind of armchair experience...those that have been to Belgium, etc...they will hopefully get transported to a degree...we’ll far Oakland likes us!

HEDONIST BEER JIVE: Some of the bottles you’ve listed on previous versions of your web site are among the most rare and hard-to-get Belgians in the US. How are you cobbling together such an incredible selection of tap and bottled beers?

AARON PORTER: It’s been a lot of work...we have to be annoying to some extent...pressure proves beneficial to a degree...but also, since we’re specializing we have people looking out for us, digging through their warehouses and garages...we have to be resourceful.

HEDONIST BEER JIVE: What’s your aim for a typical night at The Trappist? Put another way, do you have a demographic you’re shooting for, and what are you doing to reach those folks?

AARON PORTER: We think we’re going to get a very mixed crowd... it’s hard to say...but we’ll probably be getting the beer geeks, the aficionados, the beer curious, the local crowd, etc...i actually think we’ll have a very broad appeal.

HEDONIST BEER JIVE: You guys obviously know a thing or two about great beer. How did you discover the beers of Belgium, and do you each have an “epiphany moment” to share?

AARON PORTER: The Trappist came to us around November last year, I’d say...we had been talking about it casually during a trip to Belgium...and that talk got a bit more serious when we got November last year we were looking for a space. The first Belgian beer I had was a Chimay Grand Reserve (I believe the only beer they imported then), probably 15+ years ago...i had a friend that knew of a liquor store in downtown Oakland that had a small selection of specialty beer...he turned me on to the Chimay...that was the start of it for me, essentially. A couple years later, I took a trip to Belgium and visited the Abbey de Scourmont at Chimay...since then, I had always wondered why there really wasn’t a beer bar at home that was doing it the way it was done out there...Chuck and I started doing “beer trips” a few years ago...we both started wondering why there wasn’t a beer bar doing it the way it was done out there.

HEDONIST BEER JIVE: If you had to pick only five beers that you’d love to carry and personally drink in your new bar, what would they be?

AARON PORTER: Only five? That’s’ll change depending upon when asked...part of the reason we have a large bottle list is because we can’t choose....

Het Anker Cuvee Van de Keizer
Regenboog Guido
St. Feuillien Blonde [on tap]
Stuisse Pannepot or Earthmonk
Alvinne Gaspar

Again, the big opening night bash is this evening, Friday December 7th, and then the bar is open Wednesday - Thursday - Friday at 4PM, Saturday & Sunday at 2PM, and closed Monday & Tuesday. It’s located at 460 8th Street in Oakland, California. See you there.

1 comment:

Rick Sellers said...

I flagged this for me to come back to when I had a few minutes to focus on it. As usual, great stuff. I'd heard of this place on my last trip to Toronado last week, the word on the street is good (to say the least). I can't wait to make my way there myself.