Oak Barrel Winecraft


1443 San Pablo Ave
Berkeley, California, 94702
United States

(510) 849-0400 | map
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Rated: 3.53 by frasergrove from California

May 20, 2016
Rated: 4 by atpca from California

Jul 17, 2014
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Reviewed by DaveHS from California

4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5
Now that I'm an Oaklander, I guess this is my new homebrew spot. First of all, the set up is really nice. Everything is organized and accessible. And unlike other shops, you are allowed to measure and pour your own grain. And you won't get your hand slapped for grabbing a few ounces of hops or yeast from the fridges. It's a friendly, easy shopping experience. My recipe needed some work, and the guy behind the counter was very helpful. He studiously reassembled my recipe, while punching numbers into his calculator. The recipe turned out to be impeccable. I hit the exact original gravity he predicted. The only thing I had a problem with was that I forgot to ask them to mill the grains. Ended up using a coffee grinder. I think this is a place where they expect you to know what you're doing. Be sure to ask for things like whirlfloc or priming sugar/grain milling/etc. because it might not happen otherwise. Selection is well beyond what I've seen at other home brew stores. They had everything from Burton salts to obscure hop varietals in ample supply. Overall, this is a great homebrew store.
Oct 18, 2011
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Reviewed by Maudite from Texas

4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
I am a recent transplant from Austin, TX, where the homebrew shop is fantastic, friendly, knowledgeable, and has a superior selection to any homebrew shop I have since visited.

My first trek out here was to SF Brewcraft, which was extremely disappointing. I found out about Oak Barrel by driving down San Pablo in Berkeley while working one day. I wasn't even sure if it was a homebrew shop, but it was worth the trip. I have gone back 4 times now, and every subsequent visit is the same.

For the most part, it is a self serve shop, which in this respect is a good thing. If there is any lack of service (which there has so far never been), it doesn't really matter because I have the ability to get the ingredients I need. Great selection of grains, pretty decent selection of yeasts (I stick with white labs, so this is the yeast I refer to). You go in, grab a paper sack (or bring your own grain bag/carrier/receptacle), weigh out the grains you need, mill them yourself there at the shop if you prefer or don't have a grain mill at home, and cash out. Any question I have ever had has been answered with a high level of friendliness and helpfulness. I love this place. I feel good while I shop there.

Downsides: They have a pretty small hop selection. They have good, fresh hops, mainly whole leaf which I prefer, and cover a broad range of alpha acids and flavor/aroma qualities. However, they only come in large vacuum sealed bags, rather than small (1 oz.) quantities. Their selection of hop pellets or plugs is little to none. It's not so bad for my wife and I (who always brew together) because we always make hop tea with what we have left over, and store them in the freezer to keep them fresh. However, there are times when i wish I didn't have to buy so much hops. They don't have every yeast I could possibly want, which I was spoiled with in Austin, but it is a decent selection...
Another downside is not alot of adjuncts, such as herbs/spices. They have a good few, but I have to go elsewhere (Lasa Kharnac) for other herbs.

Upsides: Super friendly and helpful, full experience by getting your own ingredients, and they have usually two, but always at least one, beer on tap. Last time I had Drake's IPA and a shop brewed Belgian red which was outstanding. This is the kind of shop I would take someone just getting into brewing.

They have an okay selection of utensils, containers, fermenters, etc. Not expansive, but enough for the modest/intermediate homebrewer. However, they do have things I have not seen at other shops, such as large fermenters, oak barrels/casks for fermenting. They have a great literature section.

I have always taken my own recipes, so I don't know if they have recipe books there you can look through, but I have had their help, and heard them guiding other people in getting the appropriate ingredients for the style they were trying to brew that day.

Great place.
Mar 03, 2008
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Reviewed by fartingdog from Wisconsin

4.65/5  rDev +11.5%
I've recently started paying more attention to this place. It's now become my first stop when brewing, and if needed, I can always round out my bill elsewhere.

I used to think their grain selection wasn't that extensive, til i stopped by after I brewed a few beers with stuff bought from B3 and was lamenting not finding certain grains the recipes called for. For German and Belgian styles, this is definitely the place to go. The British and domestic grains are also pretty well represented, so there's no problem there. Might be a few specialty grains you can't find here- but nobody carries everything. They also stock most standard adjuncts.

Extract-wise the liquid selection is pretty standard, no German Pils or wheat, tho. Standard DME selections of light, dark, wheat and pils. The hop selection is decent (current circumstances aside), but not great, and a downside (for me) is that they are all packed in 4 oz bags. You can find a good selection of yeast from White Labs, Wyeast, Danstar and Safale. If you plan ahead, they get weekly White Labs shipments and will special order any particular strain you might be looking for. All ingredients are reasonabley priced.

Equipment-wise they have a pretty good selection (all your basics, plus some), including kegging gear and a sweet regulator parts selection in case you need to modify/expand your reg. They can be a little pricey for some items, tho. Plenty of books are also available. The guys here are top-notch and very helpfu and will go out of their way to answer your questions or help you out.
Dec 04, 2007
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Reviewed by Murchmac from California

4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
I've been going to this place a few years now since starting homebrewing. I've always found this place to have very knowledgeable and friendly staff. Whenever I have a question, even about extract brewing, there is always someone there willing to take the time to talk to me. They have a tremendous amount of hops, yeast strains, and malt available. Everything you need to mill or crush the grains. On top of all this they always have two beers on tap and sample cups for free. I like this place and find they have everything for my homebrewing needs.
Aug 15, 2007
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Reviewed by PeatReek from California

3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
Very clean, spacious store with attentive staff glad to help you find everything. Convenient grain scales all over the place. The selection left something to be desired, particularly in the hops department; sure they had Warrior and Ahtanum, but where are the Northdown, Target, and Challenger? Yeast selection had similar problems; they had the old standby White Labs but nothing special. I suppose they did have plenty of books and miscellaneous equipment, if that's what you're into, but you get set up with stuff like that once and then it comes down to fundamentals, like hops.

The prices seemed a bit steep; I remember that the Phil's Phalse Bottoms were 28 for a small plastic one -- you can get stainless for that price! And the extract seemed inordinately expensive, though it always does to me.
Jul 04, 2006
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Reviewed by DaPeculierDane from Wisconsin

4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
Thanks to Brewbacca, I was able to check this place out during a meeting of the Bay Area Mashers. It’s a great store, considerably larger than most of the places I’ve been to in the Midwest. Selection of yeasts, malts, and hops is top notch, well labeled, and well organized. The vibe of the place is great. The staff know their trade and are very friendly. A wide array of brewing gear is readily available. Wine and vinegar products are also available. They offer brewing seminars, give talks, and throw an annual festival too. It’s a great place to meet people from the area who are into brewing/beer tasting.
Jun 09, 2006
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Reviewed by Boneheadmx from California

4.55/5  rDev +9.1%
I went to this place when I started my very first homebrew. They have a lot of goodies here, so stick around and look for whatever you need for your homebrew. They have all sorts of grains, yeasts, and hops for all sorts of beers. They also have books and magazine to help ou along in your beermaking journey.

The service was all right, though it was nothing exceptional. My friend and I were kind of stumped on what sort of materials we would need for a specific type of beer, and the people there didn't tell us much, so we kind of guessed at the materials we would need.

The selection is probably the most amazing thing about this place. You enter into the store and see all sorts of ingredients, equipment, books...etc. You could spend a whole day in here trying to decide what you want, every time finding another product that would make your beer taste better. I highly recommend coming here if you are brewing beer for the first time.
May 19, 2006
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Reviewed by Smorgasbord from California

4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
This is an excellent place for homebrewing supplies or advice. They often brew beer in the back, and you are welcome to watch. The Oak Barrel has everything you need for homebrewing and more, but not a terriffic selection of alternative products - luckily not too necessary, as they carry gear that gets the job done.

I have not made full use of their ingredient selection yet, but they have a wall of grains and a number of 55 gallon barrels of extract. The Oak Barrel also sells supplies for wine and vinegar making.
Sep 16, 2005
Oak Barrel Winecraft in Berkeley, CA
Place rating: 4.17 out of 5 with 10 ratings