The story of Novel Brewing Company starts on Teresa Tamburello and Brian Koloszyc’s second date, which ended with the purchase of a homebrew kit. The two, now married and living in the Golden Gate neighborhood of Oakland, opened Novel together in 2016. Not all home operations, no matter how successful or outsized they become, end up with this fairy tale ending: a brewery within walking distance of home.
In college, Koloszyc developed his palate while drinking craft beer in Vermont and later frequented brew-on-site taprooms to celebrate with coworkers in Seattle. For Tamburello, however, beer was not love at first sight. Her first encounters in St. Louis, MO, (home of Anheuser-Busch) did not evoke affection nor artistry, and it was not until the couple vacationed in Germany where she sipped an Ayinger beer that she could finally proclaim there was a beer that she could love.
An engineer by trade, Tamburello is continuing to learn how to build a business from the ground up while also pulling pints with the staff. Koloszyc focuses on the brew-science: experimenting with recipes, re-engineering operations, and delivering a range of well-balanced brews to appease regulars always in search of something novel.
As the brewery’s name suggests, books are central to this story, too. Tamburello’s family once ran a print shop, and a typeset table from St. Louis now sits as a centerpiece in the taproom. Floating bookcases hover above the tables and offer a reader’s choice of literary works, including David Foster Wallace’s tome, Infinite Jest, a favorite of the couple. Customers are encouraged to browse and read on the premises, and Novel even provides house-made bookmarks so that readers can keep tabs on their progress.
Novel Brewing sits on San Pablo Avenue near the Oakland/Emeryville border with rotating taps against the left wall as you enter while a pop-up restaurant might be set up on the right. The previous tenant, a tofu factory, had sloped the floors for drainage, which made for wobbly tables and spilt beer. To address this, Petaluma-based furniture design company Sons of Salvage crafted sliding tables that can be pushed together for game nights right next to the kettles and casks. Kids have enough space to roam, and the noise is well-modulated by the love of books and beer.
What’s on tap
For this year’s San Francisco Beer Week, Novel Brewing joined forces with local East Bay breweries releasing three collaborations. Novel created The Pilcrow (the backwards-facing paragraph symbol used to mark a new section of text), a blonde ale with chamomile and lime with Triple Rock; Snark Mark, a Hazy IPA with hibiscus, oolong tea, and grapefruit peel with Cleophus Quealy; and Inverted Question Mark an American Wheat with Hoi Polloi that featured sauvignon blanc grapes.
Novel Brewing regularly trots out new recipes (and names!) and offers an assortment of styles for palates of all kind. For those who appreciate literary allusions, you will not be disappointed. Below are the rest of what you’ll find on tap right now:
Dust Jacket: Hazy IPA
Simulacrux: Barrel-aged Belgian-style quadrupel sour ale with red tart cherries
Beer Hoarder: Barrel-aged imperial stout aged in Heaven Hill bourbon/whiskey barrels with local honey, Madagascar vanilla beans, TCHO cocoa nibs, Vietnamese cinnamon and habanero chiles
Lexicon: Barrel-aged mixed fermentation saison with blackberry
Interpunct: Juicy IPA
Hyphen-minus: Pale ale
Chill Juice: Juicy IPA
Admiral Hallertauer: Pilsner
Book Thief: IPA
San Pablo: Rye saison
Park Factor: Kolsch
The Book Was Better: Belgian-style pale ale