By Kathy Chouteau
An extraordinary new landmark has sprouted up atop the hill above Point Potrero in Richmond that stands as an ode to regional craft beer, the recent pop-up monoliths and a spectacular celestial event.
The aptly named “Beer Can Monolith” rises approximately 9 feet high in a pyramid formation consisting primarily of 32-ounce beer can crowlers stacked up and wrapped in holiday lights like a glorious gift to the city topped by a large red “bow”/light.
Steve Zwetsch of Cigar Box Kitchen Guitars tipped The Standard off about the Beer Can Monolith, which is the handiwork of a Richmond man who prefers to remain anonymous. The work’s creator is a craft beer enthusiast who had saved up his beer crowlers over time spent supporting local breweries during the pandemic. Fueled by his passion for local craft beer—and inspired by the mysterious monoliths that had begun popping up in remote places, as well as the then-impending convergence of Saturn and Jupiter—the Richmond man built his creation the day before the Dec. 21 planetary event. Noteworthy is that one of Richmond’s own craft breweries—Armistice—was given a place of honor at the top of the structure just below the red light.
When it’s lit up at night, “it can be seen from pretty far away,” said Zwetsch of the Beer Can Monolith. Per Zwetsch, a friend of his who lives in the El Cerrito hills was able to spy the monolith from his home.
Equipped with Zwetsch’s tip and general directions, this reporter’s family recently set about finding the curious monolith. My eagle-eyed 8-year-old son was the first to spot it from the car, and soon after, a gate off Canal Blvd. where we could hike up to it. We parked and entered through a gate with a sign displaying a Rosie the Riveter wartime worker marked “Overlook” and “Shipyard Trail 3.” We followed a short trail as it wound up the hill, eventually coming to the top where we beheld the Beer Can Monolith in all of its glory.
As it turns out, the monolith—which this reporter personally celebrates as a Richmond incarnation of outsider art akin to what can be found at the Albany Bulb—was not the only wonderful sight to see atop the hill. Those who venture up the hill are also rewarded by some of the most spectacular views from Richmond of the San Francisco Bay. A concrete bench welcomes visitors to relax and enjoy the vistas, and a nearby sign informs us that we are not just taking in art and the bay—but also a uniquely Richmond spot: the former home of Kaiser Shipyard #3, where Rosie the Riveters built ships during WWII. The juxtaposition of the city’s historic shipbuilding industry vs. an ode to some of its modern-day craft beer breweries was not lost on this reporter.
Want to see the Beer Can Monolith for yourself? In Richmond, follow Canal Blvd. in a bay-ward direction and park on the wide shoulder of the road just past the large, road-spanning Point Potrero sign. Walk along the road’s shoulder (again, bay-ward) for a few minutes until you come to an ordinary gate marked Overlook and Shipyard Trail 3. Follow the short trail upward until you arrive at the top where the monolith is located. From there, enjoy the views.