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Good Beer Hunting

Oct 19, 2019

Welcome to the Good Beer Hunting Podcast. I’m Ashley Rodriguez. 

I remember the very first time I went to Temescal Brewing in Oakland, California. I had been watching the buildout for months, waiting in anticipation. You could step outside of my apartment building and see it from the corner. So when they finally opened, I was excited—and pleasantly surprised by the number of crushable, low-ABV beers they offered from the get-go. I was immediately on board. 

My relationship with Temescal Brewing is a mirror of my time in Oakland, initially because of proximity—I could throw a load of clothes in the washing machine and have a beer as I waited to transfer them to the dryer. Eventually, however, it evolved into a closer connection with the folks who ran the brewery. I was used to talking with the bartenders—at that time there were maybe six or seven regular folks I’d see—and eventually I ended up joining the bar staff, and being forever changed not just by the way they brew beer, but by the way they hire, the way they advocate for the rights of others, and the way they became a guiding light for businesses seeking to operate ethically and responsibly. 

A lot of what I love about Temescal comes from owner Sam Gilbert, who we interviewed on this podcast a couple of weeks ago, but also from then-taproom manager Theresa Bale. Theresa hired me back in the day, and is also the founder of Queer First Friday, the Bay’s only craft-beer-focused queer dance party. Every first Friday of the month, Temescal holds one of the most exciting and inclusive queer events in the area. From queer families who bring their children in at the beginning of the night to folks hopping on the dance floor to new performers, DJs, and singers showcasing their talents for the very first time, Queer First Friday is one of the loveliest celebrations of diversity and inclusion that I’ve encountered. And it’s all because of Theresa. 

In this episode, we talk a lot about Queer First Friday—I was at the very first one, slinging beers from the outside bar, slightly overwhelmed by the number of people who showed up, clamoring to get in, and we also talk about how Theresa thinks about hiring for diversity. Theresa isn’t shy about this—she’s intentional, she’s open, and she makes a point to seek out bartenders who maybe don’t have a ton of experience or know that much about beer. Because, for Theresa, to build a truly inclusive staff, you have to look outside the corners and social networks you know. 

I could talk about Temescal and what it means to me forever. But I’ll let Theresa, who recently transitioned from taproom manager to head of operations, a job she created for herself, tell the story. This is Theresa Bale, head of operations for Temescal Brewing in Oakland, California. Listen in.