SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition
Linden Street Brewery's founder and brewmaster. His Burning Oak Black
Lager is made in that style, which he calls an "Old California
lager" since Anchor Brewing Co. trademarked "steam beer" years ago.
Gold Rush, European immigrants coming from cold enough places would make
lagers in the fall and store them in ice-cold caves" Lamoreaux explains. "But the 1840s was
before refrigeration, and we didn't have the technology to make lagers
like that. So they developed a strain of lager yeast that would ferment
at the ambient temperature of San Francisco." It's one of only two beer
styles that can claim to have been invented in North America.
Whereas German schwartzbiers like Köstritzer hit you with a coffee-like bite
and then finish crisply, Linden Street's old California lager is rounder, with a sweet tinge to it. While it looks like a stout,
though, it's much lighter and clearer -- each sip may begin with
chocolate, but by the time you swallow you'd swear you were drinking a
lighter pale ale.
The black lager, introduced in 2009, has become a favorite
in San Francisco restaurants like Flour + Water, Range, and Cotogna
because of its low alcohol -- 5.5 percent -- and because it pairs so
beautifully with food. It may be one of the Bay Area's new classics, but it's as traditional as they get.
Linden Street Brewery, 95 Linden, Oakland, (510) 812-1264. Available at restaurants around San Francisco.
Other favorites in this series:
38: Broken Record's crawfish grits
39: Cebiche mixto from La Mar