Note: The intention behind this post is to start a series within my blog, where I focus on the history of the local area, in this case the East Bay Area in California. My former blog had a few posts in this category, and I really enjoyed learning and writing about this subject. They won’t be all too frequent, but look for more posts of this type in the future.
Buffalo Bill’s Brewery has been a staple of downtown Hayward since it was founded by Bill Owens in 1983. The year prior to Bill’s opening, California finally changed a state law prohibiting businesses from brewing and selling beer on the same premises. Therefore, Bill’s became one of the very first brewpubs to begin operating in the nation, standing at the very origins of the craft brew movement. The first beer offered by Bill’s outside of their brewpub location is the Alimony Ale – supposedly created for a client going through a divorce in 1987. In addition to this, Buffalo Bill’s is also credited with creating the very first commercial available pumpkin ale (the linked article is a fascinating read about both pumpkin ales and the position pumpkins have had in American culture).
After first getting a job by cleaning out tanks for free, the current owner of Buffalo Bills is Geoff Harries purchased the brewpub in 1994. Since then, he has expanded the offering and reach of Buffalo Bill’s, and has recently been working on opening a Hayward distillery, called the Russell City Distillery. According to the Mercury News, Russell City is a reference to a town west of Hayward, a blue-collar town sitting right on the bayshore, which was annexed by Hayward in the 60s and out past the Hayward Executive Airport. The latest news from Russell City Distillery is that a larger sill is being installed, and that hopes are that production begins later this summer.