On a Tuesday afternoon Allen Korenstein is rushing from one office to another. Earlier that morning, he had been navigating the emotional labyrinth of foster care, handling five cases in his role as a juvenile law attorney. Half an hour after leaving the courthouse, he’s on the other side of downtown, at the Camino Brewing taproom, which he and his partner recently opened on South First Street.

“I practice a very intense kind of law in the mornings, and then shift my gears and put my brewery hat on in the afternoons,” he says, on the way to Camino.

After handling the affairs of some of San Jose’s most at-risk youth, Korenstein is now handling the plans for the brewery’s Summer Jubilee, a joint event with Sam’s BBQ, which will celebrate “BBQ, brews and blues,” as well as the release of Camino’s new IPA variety pack. The event is slated to kick off this Saturday at noon.

Though they only opened their doors in April, Camino is already an important part of the growing craft beer scene in San Jose. Located just south of 280 at 718 S. First St., it is the second point of a 2 1/2 -mile taproom trail, which begins at Uproar Brewing Company to the north, runs down to Clandestine Brewing just a few blocks to the south of Camino, and continues on to Santa Clara Valley Brewing, Hermitage and Strike. And that doesn’t even count Hapa’s in Midtown, Lazy Duck up north or Floodcraft on The Alameda. All this is to say, craft beer has arrived in San Jose.

This January, in an article titled “Craft Beer Is the Strangest, Happiest Economic Story in America,” The Atlantic observed that while nearly every other industry in this country is solidifying into massive corporate monopolies, beer is undergoing a refreshing moment of hyper-locality. Once, South Bay beer fans had to drive to San Francisco or Santa Cruz to get a taste of some local flavor. But now, a wide array of talented brewers are determined to make the South Bay a major player in the industry.

“You have to really like making beer, because it’s not a short process,” says Liz Scandizzo, one of Clandestine’s owners and brewers. “You can’t just make the beer; you have to work toward how to find it. Some beer, it’s pretty easy to get going the way you want pretty quickly, and then others its fine tuning.”

Finding a winning recipe isn’t just about flavor. For local brewers, it’s about establishing an identity in a field with a sudden influx of competition. At Clandestine, the name of the game is variety. Despite only being open a few years, the brewery’s full beer list adds up to more than 160.

“We have so many kinds of beers. That’s a thing that we take pride in,” Scandizzo says. “Our average size is two barrels. We do three, up to four. Sometimes we do small, one-barrel batches. Any given weekend, beers are coming off and new beers are coming on.”

Like many of their neighbors in the brewing scene, Clandestine began as a homebrew operation before eventually turning into a full-scale business. While giants like Apple, Google and Facebook now dominate the tech industry in Silicon Valley, it would seem that the truly scrappy startups—the small companies with the garage-band grit—aren’t building disruptive apps; they’re brewing hazy IPAs, Kölsches and kettle sours.

With breweries opening in Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and Redwood City, the dynamic is beginning to favor the local over the multinational, and physical grains over digital bytes.

Often, this bears out in a more collaborative spirit than Silicon Valley’s notably libertarian bent. Among the beer makers of the South Bay, there is a refreshing air of cooperation. At Strike, head brewer Ryan Bridge is putting the finishing touches on a new beer that the company is releasing as a joint effort with Hermitage.

“They’re just up the road,” Bridge says of his neighbors, adding that Hermitage has often helped Strike when the company is in need of hops or grains.

“We’re always talking about recipes and helping each other as much as we can.”

The new beer is a hoppy lager made with grains sourced from a small malt farm in Washington.

“It’s a clean lager base, and we threw a whole bunch of hops in it right at the end. So it’s gonna be a hybrid of a Pilsner-IPA style. I’m really excited about it.”

But this collaboration is only the tip of the iceberg for a group of brewers who feel that San Jose’s time has finally come.

Smack dab in the middle of downtown is Uproar, a brewery whose rocky beginnings bely their involvement in the local scene.

“We waited quite some time for our grand opening. Even though we opened on June 14, 2017, we weren’t fully permitted to brew,” ” says Jason Gallego, adding that Uproar was criticized for being “a brewery that didn’t have many of our own beers on tap.”

After finally getting all the necessary permits, Uproar quickly began moving operations in-house, and now fills their taps with around 15 of their own brews.

“It was rough in the beginning, but it was worth it.”

More importantly, Uproar is one of many breweries trying to unite the local scene, as well as turn Silicon Valley Beer Week into something that more accurately represents San Jose.

“The beer walks that we have in San Jose, most of the breweries there aren’t even from San Jose. They’re from all throughout California, all the way up to Washington. That’s not local,” Gallego says.

The idea behind Beer Week was always to celebrate local creators over larger businesses. With the explosion of small taprooms that has swept the South Bay, the area finally has a beer scene representative of the area’s diversity. And in San Jose, with nine full-time breweries pumping out beer, attending festivals and winning awards, the city is absolutely having its moment. So be sure grab a drink, because things are about to get interesting.

Other Silicon Valley Beer Week Stories: 
Downtown San Jose’s Taproom Trail
Smoothing Out the Hops: Hazy IPAs Takeover
The Can Van: Mobile Canning for Craft Beer
The Yeast Bay Conjures Original Cultures for Craft Brewers