There is a new taproom on Oakland’s Temescal block, and you’ll be impressed with its brew as much as you are with its gorgeous, feminine design. Helmed by a wife-and-husband team, Hillary Huffard and Luke Janson, these artistic and entrepreneurial owners have created an environment that is loaded with intentional details, all the way down to the custom wood tap handles. Plus, they collaborated with locals, such as serving their neighbor’s homemade bread (from Pizzaiolo), and have a Mug Club for loyal patrons with the next-generation of “beer steins” in the form of contemporary, ceramic vessels for imbibing (such as those made by Berkeley’s Sarah Kersten). Bleached ash counters, pink sand walls and Cedar & Moss lighting make Roses’ a true design and celebratory destination. Today, our friend Celine from the blog 24 East is chatting with Hillary Huffard about the design for the taproom and, of course, what you need to order when you get there.
Roses’ Taproom: 4930 Telegraph Avenue Oakland, CA
24 East: What did you want people to feel as they walked through the door?
Hillary Huffard: We want for there to be a message to our guests that come into the space that we are an all-inclusive and welcoming environment for all.
24E: What was the design process like?
Hillary Huffard: Luke and I are both visual artists. We designed everything ourselves with a huge amount of help from Meghan Dorrian of Young American Creative. It was a very hands-on process. Luke has a background in furniture design and carpentry, so we designed all finishes together and he built them (everything from the bar tops and tables to the stools). It was an incredibly collaborative process. All throughout the process, we tried to stay true to the idea that we wanted to keep the space light, celebratory and colorful.
24E: What surprised you during the design process? Did you change direction? What did you fall in love with?
Hillary Huffard: We definitely fell in love with surfaces during the design process. Our table tops and bar tops are the same material treated very differently. The bar top is bleached ash and the tables are ash that we charred with a roofing torch to take out any milling marks and to give it a deep ebony look. We also got obsessed with rounded edges and curves. We definitely wanted to make all the surfaces feel organic and feminine.
24E: How is your business model unique for a taproom?
Hillary Huffard: We focus on small batch brewing, which allows for a lot of creativity and frequency of brewing. We are committed to adhering to classic brewing techniques and styles while also allowing ourselves to be creative and playful in the brewing process when it will benefit the finished product. We also geared our food menu toward high-quality, tapas-style food rather than your usual pub fare. We source all of our ingredients from the farmers’ markets and a couple of restaurants that have production capabilities (Pizzaiolo makes our bread daily for us and we get our charcuterie from Chef Paul Canales at Duende, both in Oakland).
24E: How did being artists impact your design decisions?
Hillary Huffard: I think for the most part, as artists, we are really drawn to process and craft. At the end of the day, Roses’ Taproom is really just an expression of the practice and exploration of the passion. It permeates every endeavor that we take up, whether it is brewing, fermenting kombucha and ginger beer, dreaming up new menu options or adorning the space with plants and paintings. We are in constant pursuit of creating an evocative, full-sensory experience.
24E: What personal touches are you proud of?
Hillary Huffard: The artwork hanging on the walls are by us. It is nice to have some personal work up in the space. We are also really proud of our wall of ceramic mugs that comprise our Mug Club. We enlisted the services of four ceramic artist friends of ours to create one-of-a-kind mugs. When a member signs up, they get to choose a mug that lives here at the brewery and drink out of it every time they come in. Members get discounts on every beer they drink as well as free beers every time we release a new one, which is roughly once per week. It is a great way to create a sense of community within our regulars, as well as a way to show the work of incredibly talented members of our artist community.
If you were visiting here for the first time, what would you order?
For a first time visit, you definitely have to get the French feta with tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil with bread. Roses’ gets its bread from its iconic neighbor, Pizzaiolo, and I love seeing these kind of collaborations and support in the community. It’s also a perfect communal snack to share. As for brew, the Blonde Sapphire is a light, blonde ale with wildflower pollen and jasmine—very refreshing. The Diva cleverly mixes spice with a floral rose for a sophisticated yet unfussy vibe. Sit at the main bar if a seat is open—seeing the sunlight from outside bounce off the Fireclay tile backsplash is gorgeous. Plus, you’ll get the inside scoop from the bartender on what to try next!