Firebrand Brick Oven Bakery
I was at Bi-Rite in the city yesterday and noticed bread from a bakery I'd never heard of: Firebrand.
I bought their Classic Sourdough, which included unbleached wheat flour, whole wheat flour, and rye flour, all organic. OMG, it was one of the best loaves of bread I have ever tasted. Really crispy crust, moist and chewy inside, packed with flavor. My wife and I couldn't stop slathering butter on it and devouring it.
The bakery is on Beach Street in Oakland and appears to be quite new. (No real website yet; just a placeholder page saying it's available at Bi-Rite and Rainbow.) Don't know if they sell retail from the bakery.
Not so new -- I first had their bread at a restaurant more than two years ago. Very limited distribution, though as you noted. And quite delicious, as you also noted!
their basic wheat baguette has become my favorite in that genre of this area's artisan bakeries. the texture/flavour characteristics from their oven are a bit more pronounced with the baguette's crust to crumb ratio.
I think the German rye is their best loaf. They def use a starter so it's got great chew and flavor
Random data points: at 7:30 on Friday there were two loaves left at the Oakland Whole Foods, a whole wheat and a walnut levain. I got the levain but I prefer Acme's.
Around 1pm today at the Kensington farmers market they had no whole wheat left.