It's not often that you find a business as tightly moored in local tradition as Linden Street Brewery (95 Linden St., Oakland), where all the beers have a Gold Rush-era flavor. The idea, said owner Adam Lamoreaux — who opened the brewery just four months ago — was to make a beer that congealed with its surroundings. Linden Street resides in an old brick warehouse just a few blocks from the West Oakland shipyards. Built in 1890, the building originally housed the Standard Underground Cable factory, which operated back when Americans were switching from gas to electricity. Lamoreaux said he wanted to capture that time period in his brewing processes, which use a lager yeast "similar to what they had back in the day." His two original beers — the Urban People's Common Lager and Burning Oak Black Lager — are unfiltered and naturally carbonated, meant to recall the type of beer that Jack London probably drank at Heinold's. But like everything else at Linden Street, they also have a modern edge.
Call Lamoreaux an unsung beero. He got into beer around age nineteen, shortly after enlisting in the Navy. He tried his first quality brew in Australia, and spent the better part of the 1990s traveling the world and sudsing it up in every country he visited. Between tours Lamoreaux stayed at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, which put him just a stone's throw away from Jupiter, Pyramid, Triple Rock, and several other local breweries. Not to mention he was right next to Oakland, a city that looms large in US brewing history (According to Lamoreaux, Oakland once had forty breweries averaging two kegs a day.) By time he got out in 1998, Lamoreaux was a veritable beer savant.
He worked in pubs and breweries throughout the next decade, and eventually rose up the ranks. Eleven years was ample time for Lamoreaux to learn how new technologies had affected the taste of beer — for the worse, he thought. "After Prohibition it all became Pilsner," he explained.) Yet, Lamoreaux also kept abreast of current trends in the beer-drinking world. He learned that modern West Coast beeroes gravitate toward "hoppier" beer (meaning a bitter flavor, for those who don't imbibe), and that a lot of local breweries focus on that sharp, earthy taste. Thus, Lamoreaux made his Linden Street brews hoppy enough to suit a modern palate, but rustic enough to lend a sense of historical grounding. That's a neat bit of marketing ingenuity that works well in practice.
On Saturday, Oct. 17, Lamoreaux will roll out his two lagers at a Beer & Brats celebration, which includes barbecued bratwurst sausages (courtesy of local butchery Star Meats), live blues by Rick Baskin, and a locally sourced vegetarian option. Event proceeds will benefit the Oakland Rotary Community Endowment and Bay Area Community Services, a food distribution program that brings farm-fresh edibles to the inner-city. Lamoreaux says it's the perfect opportunity for people to visit his production brewery and celebrate Oakland's long history of beer consumption. To help facilitate that, he'll have a double-decker shuttle bus to pick people up from the West Oakland BART station and drop them off at the brewery. Leave the driving to him — but drink responsibly. Noon-5 p.m., free. LindenBeer.com or Oakland-Rotary.org/events
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