Oakland United Beerworks is a small, tightly knit crew of talented, hardworking people dedicated to producing and serving brewery-fresh craft beer to our hometown of Oakland and neighboring communities. Learn about our roots as Linden Street Brewery and meet the crew that makes it happen.
OUR OAKLAND ROOTS
Oakland is and always has been a beer town; a place where hard-working people would gather together to enjoy locally brewed, fresh beer. As the local population grew during the Gold Rush and building of the Transcontinental Railway, Oakland was affectionately referred to as the “Milwaukee of the West” for its numerous neighborhood-based breweries. After World War II, the resident population moved from downtown to the suburbs and production brewing in Oakland stopped.
Founded in 2009 as Linden Street Brewery, we became the first community-based production brewery in Oakland since Golden West Brewery closed in the 1950s. We are proud to have been the first of many craft brewers who have since restored production brewing in Oakland.
In 2017, following the sale of our building on Linden Street to a new developer, we moved our operations to the waterfront Jack London District and rebranded as Oakland United Beerworks. We substantially expanded our brewing capacity, added a team of hardworking employees, and opened a spacious new taproom.
With the support of a small team of dedicated Oakland craft beer enthusiasts, Oakland United is proud to continue the great beer brewing tradition in Oakland.
MEET OUR CREW
Oakland United is pleased to introduce Mike Vinson, our Head Brewer. Mike has over 5 years of experience brewing in the Bay Area and comes to us from Headlands Brewing, where he was the Head Brewer for their Lafayette brewpub. He has previously worked for East Brother Brewing and Gilman Brewing and has won multiple awards, including Gold medals for his Pilsner at the California Craft Brewers Summit (2019) and for his Oatmeal Stout at the California State Fair (2019). Mike will be working hand-in-hand with Assistant Brewer Stephen Ruddy to bring our customers new, creative and delicious craft beer.
Originally hailing from Pennsylvania, Stephen earned his BA in History at San Francisco State University in 2013 and subsequently put down roots in the Bay area. Stephen’s pedigree in local craft beer is impressive, having worked in the brewhouses at Almanac Beer Company, Libertine Brewing Company, and Anchor Brewing Company over the last several years. As our Assistant Brewer, Stephen’s extensive experience will be integral to our mission to expand our product line and ensure the highest quality products. Stephen’s resume is also burnished by his Certified Cicerone certification, attesting to his comprehensive knowledge of beer, competence in assessing beer quality, and ability to identify styles by taste. Welcome, Stephen!
Meet Elizabeth Smith-Carpenter, our Taproom Manager. Liz’s calm and friendly demeanor at the front of the house belies her tenacity as she works behind the scenes to optimize taproom operations with the ultimate goal of maximizing our customer experience. Liz gained her customer service chops as Taproom Operations Manager at Ale Industries and at The Wall Restaurant. Hailing from San Diego, Liz has spent many years studying directing in film production. Her avocations include basketball, which she played at Chapman University, and acting. You can catch a performance of hers at Oakland Theatre Project. But wait, there’s more! She also plays the piano, which she was classically trained in for 7 years! You’ll see the smiling face of multi-talented Liz at the taproom as she works to keep our thirsty customers well hydrated. Come on by and join us in welcoming her!
Tracy’s 15 years of experience in sales and marketing are eye-popping, having directed custom, client-specific sales programs at GameStop Media, What They Like, Inc., MTV Networks and IGN Entertainment, among others. While at GameStop, her customer-centric approach was key to her success as Sales Director of the West Coast and her accounts included Microsoft, Sony Pictures and PlayStation. Tracy was also National Sales Director at What They Like, Inc. where she was responsible for establishing and maintaining a client base and her core accounts included E.A., Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo. Her talent, personality, and extensive skill set would make her a success in any company but Tracy brings her undeniable sales cred to Oakland United! Be on the lookout for Tracy as she introduces our brews to more restaurants and pubs in your neighborhood! You’ll recognize her for her great smile so come on by and say HI!
It would not be an overstatement to describe Maureen as a “force of nature” and we are fortunate to have her as our sales representative in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Her creativity combined with attention to detail led to her success as manager and media and event coordinator at EJ Phair, Ale Industries and The Good Hop. With her beer acumen developed and refined over 15 years in the craft beer industry, Mo is bullish on Oakland United beer. We are all in on Mo, as well, as we look to her not only to drive sales as the Bay area re-opens post-COVID, but also to help us as we strive to become a more innovative, efficient and socially responsible company. Mo knows!
Meet Lisa Wells, our Regional Sales Director. With 25+ years of sales experience in various industries, Lisa brings her passion for building relationships, helping customers and growing the business to the craft beer biz. As an alum of UCLA and supported by husband Mike, children S and Bryan and daughter-in-law Lauren, Lisa’s expertise will help her convert non-believers into Oakland United fans across the Bay area. Lisa first fell in love with our beer years ago during our Linden Street days when her nephew, Andrew Ritter, was head brewer. Sadly, Andrew passed away from ALS several years ago but Lisa’s passion for our beer continues and her presence strengthens Andrew’s “Drink Beer, Slay Dragon” philosophy at Oakland United. Her commitment to expanding the reach of our beer is truly a labor of love and we are delighted to have her on our team!
Johnathan’s successful career path enjoyed a consistently upward trajectory as senior website manager responsible for 15 hotel websites and manager of multiple web design and SEO agencies. Fortunately for OUB, his career took a purposeful hard right hand turn into the craft beer biz in 2022. As an ardent home brewer for 5 years, Johnathan decided to lean into his passion and we are now lucky to have him in the OUB family in charge of our Delivery and Logistics. While his background includes mad technology skills, Johnathan also has the ideal demeanor and beer knowledge to make him the perfect face of OUB to our wholesale customers throughout the Bay area. While he’s not on the road and making our customers happy by delivering Oakland’s best craft beer, he is training as a Cellarman under the tutelage of our Head Brewer, Mike Vinson. Please join us in welcoming Johnathan to OUB!
Meet Will, one of our Beertenders and undoubtedly one of the most interesting men at OUB. He is a Clinical Psychologist with a PhD from John F. Kennedy University practicing full-time in Richmond who used to be a regular patron at our taproom. When told we were hiring, he applied simply because he loved our beer, wanted a break from his day-to-day, and enjoyed the people he met at the taproom. Now part of our crew, anyone who meets him at the taproom can tell that he is a happy soul who chooses to be there. Will’s avocations include 20 years of skateboarding (and 8 years teaching it), being an avid runner who finished the Boston Marathon earlier this year, and an ardent traveler who has logged visits to all 50 states. Welcome to OUB, Will!
Kristen Karnay is our Operations Lead, a position that requires someone who’s part Traffic Cop, part Jack-of-All-Trades, and part Flying Wallenda. While working at our young start-up is fun, running a brewery requires diligence by many creative people, working together to produce, distribute and sell our beer. Kristen works with all aspects of brewery business workflow, maximizing our efficiency while tracking production, inventory, delivery, budgets and ensuring quality standards and employee safety. She is also primary contributor to our social media so you can add “Wildlife Photographer” to her list of attributes. Interestingly, Kristen has a Master’s of Science degree in Forensic Science from the University of California at Davis and has worked in the Ballistics Department at the San Diego Police Department. So while she could deal with noncompliance in several “interesting” ways, she prefers to rely on her considerable powers of persuasion to implement our production and performance goals.
John has been a resident and champion of Oakland since 1976 when he moved from Gary, Indiana to the Bay area to attend Cal. Since then, John has married, had twin daughters and had 30 years of experience as a real estate broker, with an interlude as founder of LaSalle Cigars in Montclair. Despite his success, John has never forgotten his roots in the steel mill country of Indiana. His father, most of his family and for a brief period of time, John himself, worked in the steel mills. These blue collar roots help ground John in the values of hard work and equal opportunity and a strong sense of community. You will frequently see John working at the brewery or doing deliveries. If you do, say hi—he would love to hear from you!
Growing up in Hawaii, Chris Ritter’s favorite time was when family, friends, and even strangers would come together to “talk story,” often over a local Primo Beer. It is no wonder that today in his role of OUB’s “Official Head Schmoozer and Lead Drinker,” he can most often be found at the taproom offering samples to our guests, giving brewery-made biscuits to their dogs, and talking to everyone about anything, even occasionally beer. Chris’ involvement goes back over ten years to the days when we were Linden Street Brewery. His son, Andrew, was our lead brewer back then. Sadly, Andrew died of ALS in 2017 at the age of 31. Today, we redouble our efforts to honor him by continuing to brew great beer and releasing our annual Andrew Ritter Tribute beer, proceeds from which go toward finding a cure for ALS. When Chris isn’t acting as ambassador of our brewery, he is a “Strategy and Jury Consultant Advisor,” meaning he helps clients hone their trial strategy, including jury selection and the use of expert testimony. But we suspect that despite his legal eagle creds, Chris’ first love is OUB. So when you’re at the brewery, don’t be surprised to see a smiling Chris coming your way, bearing samples of beer, dog biscuits, and a story or two.